Dragon Lord
(Long xiao ye) (1982)
Directed by Jackie Chan

Artistic Value: * *
Entertainment Value: * * *

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Synopsis & Analysis
Jackie Chan's Dragon Lord is a nearly plotless jumble of different elements, which are connected only by their being centered on an irresponsible young man named Dragon (Chan) and his best friend Tiger (Hui-Min Chen). What narrative there is in the movie either revolves around the two protagonists' conflicts with a gang of crooks attempting to export Chinese antiques illegally or their efforts to woo a young woman they notice as she is washing clothes in a river.

Instead of remaining focused on these two stories, however, the director merely inserts scenes developing them amid others concerned with completely unrelated incidents. For example, not only does Dragon Lord begin with a long sequence depicting a violent rugby-like game, it later includes another extended scene presenting, in its entirety, a game of footbag. Even with the conclusions of these scenes, rather than returning to either of the two relatively protracted narratives, most of the rest of the movie is, instead, taken up with a series of comedic sketches. In one of these, Dragon attempts to convince his father that he has been attending to his studies by reciting a poem which, in fact, he does not know. In others, the two protagonists blast a hole in the roof of Tiger's father's house with a gun and destroy a wall in the same man's house with a cannon. A few of the comic scenes do, however, actually relate to the film's narratives. One such scene, for instance, presents Dragon's attempts to make the woman with whom he and Tiger are infatuated believe that his friend is a villain who is trying to abduct her and that he is a hero who has come to her rescue, and a second shows the heroes' efforts to fly a kite to which a love letter has been tied into the house of that same girl.

As the reader will probably have surmised, the movie includes far more comic sequences than it does action scenes. While there are several fights in Dragon Lord, and that with which the movie concludes is both long and genuinely well choreographed, this and other such scenes make up only a small part of the film. Unfortunately, while most of the movie is comedic in tone, it is never particularly funny. Nevertheless, even though it is never remarkably humorous or inspired, Dragon Lord is still a fun film.

Review by Keith Allen

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