Hong Kong Cinema

The Odd Couple

Odd Couple
  • Made: 1979
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: 2 PAL
  • Release Date: 7 Mar 2005
  • Company: Hong Kong Legends
  • Length: 97 minutes
  • Picture: Anamorphic 2.35:1 Widescreen
  • Language: Cantonese with Subtitles / English Dubbed
  • Extras: Interactive menus, scene selections, traliers, Interviews with Lau Kar Wing, Leung Kar Yan, Bey Logan Commentary
  • Classification: 18


Lau Kar Wing (aka Liu Chia Yung)


Lau Kar Wing, Sammo Hung, Dean Shek Tin, Mars, Karl Maka, Leung Kar Yan, Lee Hoi San, Peter Chan Lung, Chung Faat, Lam Ching Ying,

The Odd Couple is a kung fu comedy caper brought together by the creative genius of Lau Kar Wing and Sammo Hung. Along with Karl Maka, these three formed Gar Bo Productions in the late seventies, which also boasted the enjoyable Crazy Tiger, Dirty Frog. The film marked Lau Kar Wing's third film as director/actor after his return from Taiwan as an action choreographer. The rest of the cast includes many familiar faces such as Dean Shek, Lee Hoi San and a villainous outing for 'Leung Kar Yan.

Karl MakaSammo Hung and Lau Kar Wing


The film begins with a classic Shaw Brothers exposition of the eighteen weapons of kung fu. This seminal opening sequence was virtually replicated four years later with Lau Kar Leung's Legendary Weapons of China. The titular 'Odd Couple' are Sammo (King of Sabres) and Lau Kar Wing (King of Spears). They compete regularly against each other but every encounter results in a draw! Both decide to recruit young pupils and train them up. To add to the comedic blender, Sammo's pupil is played by Lau Kar Wing and Lau Kar Wing's pupil is predictably a youthful Sammo.

Dean Shek provides a comic master-stroke as Master Rocking, in what can only be described as an egg-tastic performance. So are his two guards, Wu Li Single Sabre and Tiger Spear, who put together a great sequence with Sammo and Wing as 'Operatic' fighters. The late entry of the real villain adds complications to the plot. ' Beardie' (aka Leung Kar Yan) is perfectly cast as the smoldering Laughing Bandit, sporting a big scar but an even bigger grudge against the Kings of Sabres and Spear.

Lau Kar Wing


The Odd Couple exudes a playful and carefree air. The elder incarnations of Sammo and Wing are distinguised from their younger counterparts by an increased amount of facial hair and grey wigs. The chemistry between Sammo and Wing ensures that there is some level of empathy with the lead characters, but it is still hard to take the film too seriously.

Youthful SammoBeardie's Henchmen

If there is one reason to watch this film, it is because of the action. The sheer volume of fighting is astounding, with a emphasis on weapons fighting. This is brought to life by the variety and depth of martial arts on display. Firstly, there is the blend of Northern (Sammo) and Southern (Wing) style kung fu. In addition, there is the blend of weapons with Sabre, Spear and Kwan-Do (Leung Kar Yan). This is all thrown together with a classic blend of costumes and locations (including the famous hill top which was later immortalised in Jackie Chan's Young Master).

For the keen eyed, there are also a few camera tricks being used, such as undercranking and doubling. This does not greatly detract from the spectacle, which is attributable to the excellent cast and choreography (Yuen Biao, Lam Ching Ying etc). Lau Kar Wing mentions in the extras section that the actual action sequences did not take too long to shoot due to the experience of the actors and the lengthy planning they undertook before actually committing anything to print.

Final FightLeung Kar Yan's Kwan-Do


Once again, an impressive Region 2 release from Hong Kong Legends. Unfortunately, the quality of the anamorphic widescreen presentation is imperfect, but some night scenes are perhaps too dark. This may be linked to the source material quality but this is not the exceptional quality that would normally be expected. HKL continue to cater for purists and newbies by offering subtitled and dubbed audio options. The disc extras include two interviews with Lau Kar Wing and Leung Kar Yan, plus trailers, scene selection and a Bey Logan commentary. Almost top marks to HKL!


Jackie Chan's encounter with Lau Kar Leung in Drunken Master 2 is seen by many as a seminal clash between the respective kings of kung fu in the late seventies, but The Odd Couple is an earlier example of the exhilarating blend of Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest talent. Lau Kar Wing, fourth generation martial arts descendent of the legend Wong Fei Hung, will never be remembered for his acting, but he matches Sammo blow for blow in this breath-taking vehicle.

Many have argued that this is the finest weapons based kung fu movie ever, but I'm not so sure (several Lau Brothers and Venom movies spring to mind). The action is exceptional, but it is quite clear that much of Sammo and Wing's energies were focused on this area. The weak plot and acting prevent this from being anything more than a entertaining slapstick romp as opposed to a genre classic.



Flying SammoWing and Sammo