Starring Yue Song, Li Yufei, Zhang Chao, Hou Xu
Fight Choreography by Yue Song
Directed by Yue Song and Zhong Lei
Yue Song is an emerging martial artist who is the latest to try to hit it big in a genre of Chinese kung-fu films where pop stars have been given starring roles, which has diminished Hong Kong martial arts films over the last few years. Does this starring vehicle give him the showcase he needs to prove he’s the next big thing?
I’m not sure, but he makes a damn good first film here.
KOTS stars Song as Feng, a young man who excels at street fighting and long with his friends joins a local gang. Feng’s relationship with his father was already damaged, and becomes more so. Eventually Feng gets into a fight with a local gang and kills one of them. Feng is sentenced to prison and is released 8 years later, now a calmer, more reflective man. He tries to avoid conflict that leads to fighting, but as it does with all martial arts heroes, it finds him anyway.
After working as a mover, he meets a young woman named Yi (Yufiei) who helps run a local orphanage. Enchanted with her, Feng agrees to volunteer there, but trouble once again finds him as a local corporation looks to buy out the land for much cheaper than it’s worth, displacing the children at the orphanage. Of course the owner doesn’t want to sell, so the company sends its thugs to deal with him, causing Feng to leap to action, even as he goes to work for the grandmother of the man he killed on the side. Can Feng defend the orphanage and not betray his new ideals?
The story is simply told, but it’s told well. The very ending left me a bit cold, but maybe that’s me. Can’t the hero just simply win for a change? There seems to be a trend in kung-fu movies for the hero to “win” but not (I don’t want to give anything away). As for Yue Song, he does a good job playing the stoic yet regretful hero, and he’s good doing it. The villains were one-dimensional cookie cutter baddies, but they serve the purpose of giving things for Yue to bounce his fists and feet off of, which he does with great abundance. Li Yufei does a good job as a potential love interest, and plays smarter than she lets on. The cinematography is well done, and the lighting is actually good during the dimly lit scenes. The camera also follows the fights well, and takes advantage of the spaces.
The fight scenes are well-choreographed, and does cater a bit toward the MMA crowd, but mixes it up not unlike Donnie Yen’s Flashpoint. The opening fight and the final fights are the best of the film, allowing a grand showcase of Yue Feng’s martial arts prowess, and he does a good job choreographing his fights, but I’d love to see a more experienced fight choreographer like a Corey-non-slumming-it Yuen or Woo Ping work with Song. The final fight really pulls out the stops, as Yue fights with fists, feet, staffs, swords, and anything else he can grab a hold of (during the final fight he tends to take the weapons the thugs are using a turn it on them. It prompted me to think “stop attacking him with stuff! He just takes it and kicks your ass with it!”). I’m not sure the last time I saw so many side and front snap kicks in one film!
I liked Yue Song quite a bit, and I’m really hoping he makes some good choices with his next projects!
Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8
The King Of The Streets is a gritty film about what it takes to become a street fighting legend, with great bone-crushing fights, brutal finishes and a great introduction to new martial arts star Yue Song!
This film releases on Blu-Ray and DVD from WellGoUSA August 6th!