Review: Dragon Lord (1982)


Dragon Lord

Starring Jackie Chan, Mars, Wai-Man Chan, Fung Hak-On, Hwang In-Sik, Corey Yuen

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Jackie Chan

Jackie Chan Dragon Lord was supposed to be a sequel to the hit film The Young Master, but was changed later. This film was something of a transition film, which saw JC leaving the traditional kung fu films and lacing them with the stunts he would be come known for. This film also gives his buddy Mars, a veteran of many Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung movies a chance to shine.

Dragon Lord follows the adventures of Dragon (Chan) and his buddy Cowboy (Mars). Both are two immature teens whose fathers fret over them constantly. Cowboy’s father is wealthy, so he always feels a sense of entitlement. Dragon, on the other hand, is lazy and spends his days pulling pranks with his posse. What both boys have in common are the town’s past-time: sports games. The film opens with one of the craziest scenes of King of the Hill you’ll ever see, with a ton of guys trying to climb their way up a hill to grab a golden football. After this what ensues is rugby-Jackie Chan style, so know what kind of oh-my-god-did-you-see-that shenanigans that will ensue. Things get dicey for the two boys when they both fall for the same girl, which leads to a rift in their friendship as they try to one-up the other. But there’s nothing to brings two friends back together in a Jackie Chan film like a bad guy, and we have the return of Hwang In-Sik (The Young Master) as a badass who leads a group of soldiers, one of whom, Lu Chen (Wai-Man Chan) isn’t keen on their latest criminal enterprise, the stealing and selling of ancient Chinese artifacts in order to fund their overthrow of the government. He leaves the gang, but of course you don’t just leave, and Dragon and Cowboy find themselves trying to save Lu Chen and stop a coup if they can survive both the traitorous soldiers and their fathers…

Dragon Lord Jackie Chan

Dragon Lord is a very entertaining movie, and for once Mars gets to step beside JC instead of behind him, and does a good job as JC’s friend and foil. Jackie Chan is good as the clueless Dragon, but it’s virtually the same character he’s perfected in Fearless Hyena, The Young Master and Drunken Master, so nothing bad, but nothing original either. Look out for my personal favorite Fung Hak-on as a competitor in the shuttlecock / soccer game that becomes increasingly insane as the game goes on. Hwang In-Sik is good at playing a badass in this, as always, and Wai-Man Chan also shines as a good guy (for a change). The story itself is paper thin, and exists simply for the action scenes, but, in the case of Jackie Chan, there’s nothing wrong with that.

Dragon Lord Jackie Chan

There aren’t as many fights as you would expect in this film, the sports games taking a part of what would normally have been devoted to a fight. The final battle between Jackie Chan, Mars, and Hwang In-Sik is like The Passion of Jackie Chan 2: Mars Gets His Ass Kicked Too. They don’t so much beat the bad guy as much as wearing him down as he beats the holy hell out of them. That kind of ass-kicking can tire anyone out, and JC and Mars both take vicious falls and kicks, and I cringed at a particularly painful fall Mars pulls off.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

The Jackie Chan and Mars scenes are great, but in the case of Jackie Chan we’ve seen this character many, many times before. Still, it’s a movie full of crazy stunts and wild action. The crazy sports scenes are the highlights of this one!

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4 Responses to “Review: Dragon Lord (1982)”

  1. This is personally my favorite JC film pre-Police Story. After watching everything in chronological order from Cub Tiger of Kwangtung, through all the (mostly) forgettable Lo Wei flicks, into Drunken Master, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow, Fearless Hyena, Young Master, and then Dragon Lord, this is the film that really stuck out from the mold. As you say, it’s a transition film, where you get the best from both worlds: an amazing final fight (waaaay more intense and creative than the Young master fight, which was longer but not IMHO better, plus that one fall by Mars you mention – comPLETEly jaw dropping). And that soccer match was insane. Frankly, especially by this point in JC’s career, much more entertaining than yet another fight scene.

    The fact that this film contains virtually no “fighting” (save the end fight), and yet is more jaw dropping than all the previous films combined, is quite an achievement.

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  2. P J Italiano Says:

    Excellent review. I have learned a great deal from reading your review’s and the responses from your fans (Dave Baxter).

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  3. Great review, man. I love reading your reviews. You clearly have a passion for the genre and a great knowledge. I too love the genre but I haven’t seen 1/10th of what you have.

    I have this in my instant cue on Netflix so I will watch it eventually. So, so many Jackie Chan flicks to get around to. He’s amazing.

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    • Hey, thanks. I just wanted to create a place where folks who love martial arts films can come to read reviews and as a place where they can get some info about a star or director or fight choreographer they love.

      I am now transitioning from writing about martial arts films to actually making them. More on that later!

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