Hong Kong Cinema

Snake Deadly Act

  • Made: 1979
  • Format: DVD (VHS details in brackets)
  • Region: 2 PAL
  • Release Date: 23 Sept 2002 (1995)
  • Company: Eastern Heroes
  • Length: 85 mins (91 minutes)
  • Picture: Widescreen Letterboxed
  • Language: Subtitled
  • Extras: Chapters (Trailer)
  • Classification: 15


Wilson Tong


Ng Kun Lung, Wilson Tong, Fong Hak An, Angela Mao, Chan Wai Man, Phillip Kao, Bolo Yeung

Snake Deadly Act is a tale that lacks the more conventional good guy / bad guy divide. Kwok Chung (Wilson Tong) and Yue Yie (Fung Hark On) plays the warring rivals in this bizarre tale of animal style kung fu and Drunken Master inspired training. The only protagonist that has clear moral content is Chung's son (Philip Kao) who is the simple kid caught up in all the trouble. Wilson 'Foot Doctor' Tong directed the work and clearly had a part to play in the ambiguity of the film. Although I have nothing dreadful to say about his directorial debut it is equally so that I have nothing positive to say. There is an element of mediocrity about this film and it is only a strong supporting cast that prevents it from falling to pieces. Notables include cameos from Angela Mao, Chan Wai Man, Bolo Yeung and Ng Kun Lung. It managed a less than spectacular HK $753,000 during its 7 week run at the box office.


For those who have not guessed already, this is about snake style kung fu, and probably has one of the best film names within the genre. Kwok Chung enrages Yue Yie by raping his wife, but as Chung points out Yue Yie is a notorious rapist himself. After fleeing mid battle, Yue Yie swears to kill the whole Chung family. Yue Yie is on the verge of killing Kwok's son when he realises that the 'kid ain't too bad' and instead teaches him snake style kung fu to help defeat his father in a deadly three-way finale!


Possibly the most pleasing element of this movie is the abundance of animal form kung fu. Not only do all the three main protagonists use the snake style, but Kwok has also taught himself Lobster kung fu! Angela Mao has a nice cameo with a tasselled sword but the weapons work is generally low. The choreography is very good but not exceptional by any stretch.

It is hard to watch this film without shouting 'RIP OFF' at loads of the fighting and training. For anyone who has seen Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master this film will contain nothing new. There is the excruciating training whilst living in a small hut in the country. Oh, and Yue Yie also teaches Kwok's son the 'Drunken Feet' technique to combine with his snake style. The fighting even involves Fung Hark On with a fan, which is entertaining but will hardly go down in history. There is also the disappearance of Wilson Tong for 80 mins of the film! He hardly does anything apart from the beginning and end encounters, possibly to concentrate on directing?


The DVD and VHS of this movie are unspectacular and boast a low quality speckled print. It is a shame one of the larger companies could not do a proper re-mastering job on this movie. To the credit of the VHS, it is widescreen and subtitled. It also contains the original trailer, just before the movie, which is quite annoying!


This film does little that is remarkable or original and merely exposes the inability of the leads to carry a film. None of them have the presence to make you genuinely care about their plight. This is echoed in the directing which also struggles to find its way. It is a generally competent movie but everything in it has been done better somewhere else. The only element that is novel lies in the ambiguity of the moral content of the movie, which is normally more mono-chrome in Hong Kong cinema. However, there is a fine line between suspense and indifference and sadly this tends towards the latter.