Hong Kong Cinema

Hapkido (Hap Ki Do)

  • Made: 1972
  • AKA: Lady Kung Ku
  • Box Office: HK $0.87m (#22)
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: PAL Reg 2
  • Release Date: 28 Aug 2006
  • Company: Hong Kong Legends
  • Length: 93 mins
  • Picture: 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
  • Sound: DD5.1, DD2.0
  • Language: Mandarin with English subtitles, English dub
  • Extras: Hapkido Examined, Interview with Hapkido instructor Tammy Parlour, Trailers
  • Classification: 18


Wong Feng


Bai Yeng, Angela Mao, Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan, Carter Wong, Hsu Hsia, Ji Han Jae, Wong In Sik, Chin Ti, Teruo Yamane, Bruce Liang

Action Choreographer:

Sammo Hung

Hapkido - The stars of Hapkido - Angela Mao, Carter Wong and Sammo Hung - all trained in the Korean martial art Hap Ki Do (along with Jackie Chan) under the tutelage of South Korean instructor Jin Pal Kim, helping them to perfect the high-kicking style that Hong Kong audiences came to love thanks to Bruce Lee (who learnt the style from studying under Tae Kwon Do stylist Jhoon Rhee). Jin Pal Kim was a member of South Korean President Chung Hee Park's secret service in the 60s, before moving to Hong Kong where he opened a Hapkido school and starred in eight martial arts films. Sammo Hung also studied under Hap Ki Do master Jin Han Jae (who features in this film) in South Korea before continuing with Jin Pal Kim.

Hapkido PicHapkido Pic


In 1934 Japan has occupied Korea, the people are oppressed and some study an underground martial arts style, Hap Ki Do, in preparation for rebellion. Three Chinese students study alongside them, but after a fight with some Japanese they are sent back to China to open their own Hapkido School. On returning home, the three find that the Japanese are bullying the townspeople through the Black Bear School, and the greedy and violent behaviour of the Bear pupils leads to several run-ins with brave but brash Wei (Sammo Hung). Having told to practise forbearance by their master, the Eagle School Hapkido trio do their best to make peace with the Black Bear School but they are too arrogant, making confrontation inevitable. Isn't it always the way?


It is fair to say that the story won't offer much that you haven't seen before, with its tale of rival schools, revenge and the arrogant getting their comeuppance (think Bruce Lee's Fist of Fury), but the clue is in the title. Named after a martial art, the film features numerous fantastic fight scenes showcasing the Hapkido style thanks to the oodles of genuine martial arts masters and students bringing the action to the screen. Whilst some of the acting that conveys us between bouts is pretty wobbly, particularly Carter Wong in his first starring role, the hamming of some of the bad guys is a joy to behold, with Teruo Yamane perfecting the evil laugh as the head of the Black Bear School and Bruce Liang mugging gamely as he harasses women and boils fish alive, providing a clear cut enemy for our good guys to overcome.

The three stars are all on top form in the fight scenes providing some beautiful martial arts displays, and the inclusion of Hapkido masters Jin Han Jae and Wong In Sik only adds to the spectacle, with Jin overwhelming opponents effortlessly in the opening scenes at the school, and Wong facing off against a sword wielding Teruo towards the end of the film. On top of the main actors, Hapkido features appearances by Jackie Chan, Yuen Biao and Corey Yuen, though in all honesty I didn't spot them in the frenetic action scenes. The also-ran plot can be seen as a drawback, but in hindsight you can appreciate that the storyline wasn't so long in the tooth in 1972, and so can be forgiven for seeming a little cliché to our jaded eyes. It's a solid tale that at least gives a decent set-up for the action to unfold.


The picture for this DVD does feature a few instances of wear with marks on the screen and colour distortion, but these are very rare and on the whole the picture is fantastic, especially taking into account the age of the film. Sound quality receives an equal amount of care and it's easy to feel the extra oomph of the 5.1 remastered Mandarin soundtrack as HKL have provided the original mono version as well. The English dub is of the usual acting quality. Extras are few but credit is still due to Hong Kong Legends for putting together a couple of features to complement a nearly 35 year old film.

The short Hapkido Examined featurette involves Hapkido instructor Tammy Parlour giving us a commentary on some of the standout examples of Hapkido in the movie, along with some background information about the martial art. In the 15 minute interview with Tammy she tells us of her involvement in Hapkido, its history and more about the art itself, serving as a neat addition to the film. A mixture of talking head and clips of Hapkido moves at her London school, this extra is worth a watch as a nice insight into the style that has brought Hong Kong cinema such visually arresting moments. Along with these is the cheesy HKL UK promo, the original trailer that makes much of the martial arts pedigree of its stars, and other trailers for HKL releases.


Hapkido doesn't manage to provide the overall package as the acting and plot take a back seat, but the fights are of such quality that they do make the film worth watching in themselves. You probably already know if you are a fan of 70s Hong Kong fight films and whether you can overlook any related drawbacks, so if you are then you are guaranteed to enjoy this offering.

A decent fight film that's well worth a look.