Gallants @ Fantasia

Only a fool would doubt this film due to the fact that it is a martial arts film starring some older gentlemen as the main combatants. Despite the fact that they are a bit long in the tooth they bring authenticity and vigor to their roles. The amount of veteran talent that the two directors were able to convince to be in their film is quite impressive. An old school style Hong Kong film that makes the point that you don't need tons of special effects to make a good kung fu film.

Cheung (Wong You Nam – Ip Man) is a loser whose life has gone downhill since his younger days when he bullied a boy every day. Now he works at a lower level position at a real estate office. After once again angering his boss, he is sent on a punitive job to a small remote town where they are trying to buy up all the land in order to redevelop.

Almost right away he is bullied by a man and his goons. An older man carrying a large bag of rice comes to his defence. The old man's name is Tiger (Bruce Leung) and his is quite adept at kung fu. Cheung goes with him to the teahouse that he works at and meets his partner, Dragon (Kuan-Tai Chen – Tai-Pan, The Iron Monkey). The two men are disciples of Master Law (Teddy Robin), a man who has been in bed in a coma for 30 years.

Dragon and Tiger are resisting selling the land that the teahouse is on to the developer as they still hold out hope that Master Law will wake up. Some heavies are sent to persuade them and a big fight breaks out. In the fight Master Law is thrown from his bed and is injured. At the hospital later, Tiger, Dragon, Cheung, and Kwai (JJ Jia) are told that miraculously that Master Law is awake. The feisty man brings everyone back to his martial arts club (which is now the teahouse) and even though he is not really sure who is who he starts training them.

Master Pong (Mai Wan Chan) is the owner of the town's flashier martial arts gym. He has organized the Hong Kong Martial Arts Open in order to promote martial arts. Master Law brings all his "students" to the club to sign them up. No matter the odds stacked against them Master Law urges his students to fight on. When a tragedy happens they will all need to remember his words, "If you don't fight you will never lose. If you fight you must win."

The comedy in the film jumps frenetically from bit to bit. It is totally of the wham bam, thank you ma'am style and the audience is the beneficiary. The comedy bits are expertly set up and you'll get some knee slapping moments out of them.

The martial arts sequences are great. Done authentically without many special effects they will still blow your mind. They are done in that old Kung Fu style that should make a come back, in my opinion. The opening fight with Bruce Leung, all done without CGI or wires, is one of the best in film lately.

Whether you are a martial arts film fan or not you will find something to like about this one. Though there is martial arts in the film it is not the primary focus. There is also a great story about family and family being those people who you are closest to. Family can be something that you create for yourself.

All the characters in the film are great. You love the good guys and you even like the bad guys. You even enjoy the fight scenes in which people are getting beaten up. There is such a good spirit running throughout. All the characters feel like friends that you've known for a long time. They are human and relatable.

Another cool aspect of the film is the animation that runs throughout. Whether it is to tell the back story or illustrate the power behind a punch, it is another ode to the past in that the animation is modelled on 1970s and 1980s Japanese anime.

No matter what the odds stacked against you are you should always persevere – that is one of the main messages of Cheng's and Kwok's film. Do not back down and always use the skills we are good at to help you get through even the toughest of situations. Good, authentic fight scenes coupled with a good script. A winner!

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