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Review Pedicab Driver a.k.a. Qun long xi feng (1989): A Sammo Hung classic that deserves a proper release!

genre: martial arts, action, comedy, romance, drama

When searching for Sammo Hung titles online Pedicab Driver is one that always pops up. It's mostly highly regarded with very little to no negative reviews and yet it's a title very hard to come by or at least it's hard to find a good release that makes it worth for people like me. While learning Cantonese is one of the things on my to do list I am pretty sure that it's not happening any time soon. Thus I am very reliant on physical media with subtitles. Preferably English or Dutch. For whatever reason that seemed an impossible task. However I did come across a DVD with German subtitles. And that works for me fine since that after English is another language I speak and understand fluently. I am referring to the Asia Line Vol. 37 - Limited Edition and must say that I can't complain too much about it's quality visually. Very likely it's going to be the best there is until a proper Blu-Ray transfer is produced.

Expecting a lighter title with the usual comedy antics nothing had prepared me for the melodrama this film is infused with. The film even starts with a scene where two groups of people are trying to come to an agreement and where every word or gesture is seen as an attack. It's incredibly funny especially when the chaotic fights that ensue don't always turn out the way you expect. The little nod to Star Wars is an example of that. It had me in stitches. Then some slapstick moments after how was I supposed to know I would be confronted with some real life issues. Melodrama in Kung Fu films is not uncommon. However the themes that are explored in this are quite mature and adult. I mean there is a subplot regarding actor Max Mok and actress fennie Yeun which is rather unusual in a supposed lighthearted martial arts flick like this. Fennie Yuen as Siu Chui plays the woman Malted Candy (Max Mox) falls in love with. The way it happens is incredibly sweet and romantic. But there is a twist that puts things quite upside down. It's theme hits hard. But thanks to Nina Li Chi as Bing everyone sees reason and things calm down a bit. Very briefly mind you since then events become real dire. I wasn't expected to be this invested but I was and it felt so good to see Sammo battle it out with the bad guys after this. 

This may not be a non stop actioner. The action that is present is top notch and hard hitting. Especially the big fight sequences with Sammo Hung are delightful. In one of them he fights Lau Kar-Leung (a veteran of many Shaw Brothers productions and Drunken Master II). He is not the only star to be featured. Corey Yuen and Lam Ching-Ying (most famous for the Mr. Vampire films) also make their appearances. Chung Fat and Billy Chow play one of the many bad guys under leadership of Master 5 played by John Shum. He might be and look ridiculous but he is truly one of the most ruthless and evil villains ever portrayed on the big screen. Actually all of the villains are nasty and relentless. In hindsight Sammo Hung should have extended the finale with at least ten minutes and take his time punishing these bad guys.

Overall this is easily one of the best Sammo Hung as ever made and deserves a proper release. Why hasn't this happened yet? 

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