Snake in the Eagle's Shadow
is the film that marks the beginnings of Jackie Chan as a Hong Kong action star. Set in early 20th century China, it is a traditional kung fu action picture invigorated by Chan's good humour and charm. The heart of the film is Jackie's surprisingly emotional relationship with the elderly Yuen Siu Tien, whom the star rescues and befriends. In return, the old man trains Chan in the art of Snake's Fist kung fu, which he later combines with the Cat's Claw to develop the technique of the title. The action, directed by Yuen Woo Ping, includes Chan in an exciting battle with a sword-wielding preacher and a striking showdown with arch-villain Hwang Jang Lee. The sequences in which Chan learns new fighting techniques are both inventive and humorous, with the charismatic Yuen Siu Tien (a veteran Chinese film star and father of the director) offering a sober version of the character he would play in Chan's follow-up Drunken Master
(1978), and in Magnificent Butcher
(1979). The film features a regular ensemble cast of classic Hong Kong kung fu film actors, and regardless of its obviously low budget mixes violence, comedy and emotion into an enduringly popular success.
On the DVD: The image is variable, with some shots displaying considerable grain and print damage while the colours are weak throughout. Worse, the original 2.35:1 film has been reformated to 1.77:1 widescreen TV ratio. While this has been done with some care it inevitably damages the compositions and loses information in the dynamic fight scenes. The sound is functional mono. Soundtrack options are the original Mandarin with English subtitles, or an English dub. Extras include the original English language theatrical trailer, Hong Kong Legends' own trailer, plus promos for further releases and a photo gallery. There is a detailed text biography and filmography of Jackie Chan, and a text interview with producer Ng See Yuen. There is also a text biography of Hwang Jang Lee linked to a kicking showcase which is another short fight scene. Most of these features are identical to those on the Drunken Master DVD.--Gary S Dalkin
A great success on its initial release, this was the film which offered Jackie Chan his first starring role. It tells the story of Chien Fu, a young man who is regularly bullied and abused until he learns the deadly Snake Fist discipline from the last living master. However, by itself this discipline is not enough to defeat the rival Eagle Claw clan, and Chien finds that he must incorporate his own vicious Cat's Paw technique before confronting the dread Eagle Claw master in a battle to the death.
From the Back Cover
Jackie Chan explodes onto the screen in the film that launched his meteoric career. Brimming with imaginative kung fu styles, powerful choreography and innovative training sequences, Snake in the Eagle's Shadow is a dazzling showcase for the overwhelming physical talents of the world's number one action star.
To save his master, Pak Cheung Tien (Yuen Siu Tien), from certain death at the hands of dreaded eagle claw master Shang Kwan Yi Mun--played with gusto by Hwang Jang Lee--Chien Fu (Chan) must combine the lethal art of snake fist with cat's paw (his own invention) and undergo some of the most tortuous training ever devised.
Director Yuen Woo Ping, who recently shot to fame as the architect of the mind-blowing high-impact fight sequences in The Matrix, captures the action with perfect clarity and collaborates with Chan to create one of the most memorable action classics ever made. This movie has captivated audiences all over the world and never seems to lose its magic, no matter how many times you see it. A true perennial classic of martial arts cinema.