Dojo Review: The Dragon Tamers
(image courtesy of Hong Kong Movie database)
Director: John Woo
Action Director: Chan Chuen
Plot: Fang ( Carter Wong) searches Korea for expert Tae Kwon Do fighter Master Sheng in order to test his kung fu and gain more experience. In the meanwhile, Fang befriends a local Tae Kwon do instructor Nan Kung (James Tien), recieves instruction from Master Pai (Lee Dae Yeob), falls in love with Master Sheng’s daugther, and teams up with Nan Kung to fight the Yuen Brothers ( Yeung Wai and Gam Kei Chu) and their thugs who run a prostitution ring and try to force all martial arts schools into their association.
I really like when the Hong Kong studios venture outside of using all Chinese martial arts in the choreography of their films and actually use the names of these arts (Golden Harvest stood out by doing this). Action director Chan Chuen uses Tae Kwon Do, Hapkido, and Kung Fu in the martial arts action of this film. The fighting style has some beauty to it, but it’s the brutal nature of the choreography I enjoy. Fang’s (Carter Wong) Kung Fu mixture with Tae Kwon Do really highlights his skill set (he is a black belt in Karate as well as a Kung fu Master) and mixes things up as well. The inclusion of real life Hapkido Master Ji Han Jae as the formidable Master Sheng brings some realism to the movie. The actors kikcs are not so stylized;they are cut short of their full extension to highlight speed, compactness, and the actual hit. Additionally, action maestro John Woo frames the fights really well and the emotional content of the fights are present. Be sure to pay attention to the duel between Fang and Master Sheng not only for the actual martial techniques but for the emotional content displayed by Fang afterwards. This is good fight film making which highlights the story.
The Dragon Tamers is not a movie for fans who wan to see extended, clean, and pretty martial arts techniques. It, however, does boast a good story, as well as emphasize martial virtue, brotherhood, and martial chivalry. Stand out performances from Lee Dae Yoeb and the highly underrated James Tien really help this movie stand out. If you are a fan of John Woo this is a must have. John does a good job with a by the numbers martial arts story and gives us elements of love as well as the aforementioned brotherhood. This is one you may be able to watch with your non-martial arts partner. Beware there is some brief bare breasts and I am glad the movie didn’t turn into an all out female exploitation flick. Overall, The Dragon Tamers is a good movie;one which highlights some Korean martial arts, and has some exciting fight scenes. Also, it has a cool 70’s soundtrack ( some sounds are very similar to Enter The Dragon), and some women who kick butt! Add The Dragon Tamers to your collection! You can even pick up a copy here.