Hong Kong Cinema

My Young Auntie

  • Made: 1980
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: Region 3 NTSC
  • Release Date: 15 Apr 2004
  • Company: IVL / Celestial
  • Length: 114 minutes
  • Picture: Anamorphic 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese (2.0), Mandarin (2.0) with Subtitles
  • Extras: Interactive menus, trailers, artwork and posters, cast and crew info
  • Classification: UN


Lau Kar Leung


Lau Kar Leung, Kara Hui Ying-Hung, Hsiao Ho, Johnny Wang Lung Wei, Gordon Liu, Wilson Tong, Kwan Yung-Moon, Yuen Tak

My Young Auntie arrived in the middle of an illustrious period for director / actor / scriptwriter and martial arts genius Lau Kar Leung. After declaring himself as the major force in 1978 for Shaw Brothers with his smash hits 36th Chamber of Shaolin and Heroes of the East, Leung had further prospered in 1979 with comedy favourites Dirty Ho and Mad Monkey Kung Fu. My Young Auntie was also in a same vein as his directorial debut, Spiritual Boxer, containing this light-hearted tone. From this point onwards, a significant proportion of his output was playing to the very audience that Jackie Chan had won over with his late seventies comedies.

Lau Kar Leung was also developing a preference for youthful rascals as his heroes. The likes of Chen Kuan Tai and Lo Lieh were to play more limited roles as the camera began to focus on the likes of Wong Yue, Fu Sheng, Gordon Liu, Hsiao Ho and the ever-graceful Kara Hui Ying-Hung. For My Young Auntie, Lau Kar Leung cast the latter two to perform alongside him in this kung fu comedy.


Released in 1981, My Young Auntie gave Hsiao Ho his second major lead working for Lau Kar Leung after the excellent Mad Monkey Kung Fu. In this he plays Leung's son, Ah Tao, who is part of the increasingly Westernised element of modern youth, even taking on the name 'Charlie'. Lau Kar Leung is the nephew of a soon to be deceased benefactor. In order to prevent his inheritance falling into the hands of evil third uncle (brilliant performed by Johnny Wang Lung-Wei), the benefactor hastily marries one of his young students, Jing Dai-Nan. Played by Kara Hui, she won best actress for her performance at the 1st HK Film Awards. As family elder, Dai-Nan must now ensure the safe delivery of the inheritance to rightful heir Jing-Chuen (Lau Kar Leung).

This bizarre plot creates plenty of comedy opportunities. For a start, the newly appointed family elder is young enough to be Jing-Chuen's daughter! Ah Tao's progressive behaviour and social crowd come as a major shock to the traditionally minded Dai-Nan. Ah Tao opens a new world of clothes and culture to Dai-Nan who is too proud to admit her discomfort in such surroundings. All of this would not be complete, without Johnny Wang and his henchmen (Kwan Yung-moon and Wilson 'Footdoctor' Tong) coming to seek the inheritance they believe they rightly deserve.


The film flirts between slapstick and kung fu sequences. Much of the slapstick comedy is at Dai-Nan's expense as she experiments in Western clothing and a masquerade ball. Lau Kar Leung inserts an underlying theme that considers the widening gap between traditionalist and increasingly Westernised culture. Unfortunately, his brushstrokes are crude and fail to paint a picture of real depth and sincerity. With many of Lau Kar Leung's 'modern' kung fu comedies, the characters seem flimsy and predictable. There are also a number of inconsequential cameos with the likes of Gordon Liu providing little reason as to why he was cast for a brief fifteen minutes.

The action is of the exceptional standard that can be expected from Lau Kar Leung. He was also supported by Hsiao Ho and Lee King Chu. Hsiao Ho is electrifying as Charlie and Kara Hui once again proves why she was the most graceful kung fu femme of her era. Hsiao Ho and Kara Hui feature in plenty of play sparring between each other. Their awkward and flirtatious relationship as grand-aunt and nephew develops before they square up against Wang's henchmen in his booby trapped lair. However, when the chips are down it is Lau Kar Leung who faces up against Johnny Wang at the bad guy's hideout.

My Young Auntie has an outstanding last twenty minutes as Lau Kar Leung finally faces his treacherous rival. It is great to see Leung with some proper action screen time. In many of his classics he has given himself a cameo but deferred the ultimate battle to a younger starlet, e.g. Heroes of the East, Eight Diagram Pole Fighter. We are treated to a spectacular performance by Lau Kar Leung and Johnny Wang. There are plenty of animal forms on display, all of which is captured brilliantly on camera.


This is the standard offering from the remastered IVL discs from Celestial (Region 3 NTSC). The restored print breathes new life into the movie, boasting exceptional depth and colour. It is an anamorphic 2.35:1 presentation with DD 2.0 tracks for Mandarin and Cantonese. The subtitles are annoyingly small, a problem now rectified in recent releases. Extras include some artwork such as behind the scenes and original posters. There are biographies / filmographies, trailers and scene select.


My Young Auntie triumphs as a kung fu movie, but falters as a social commentary. It is a formula that Leung attempted to rehash two years later with Lady is the Boss. Kara Hui and Hsiao Ho bring real energy to the proceedings, but it is 'step over young pretenders' when Leung rolls his sleeves up at the end. Although it won awards and performed respectably at the box office (HK $3.35m) this will never be regarded as Leung's finest directorial hour. The sprawling plot and paper thin characters will always prevent that. The action is remarkable and ensures that all these shortcomings can be forgiven once the fighting really starts.