By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
Well GO USA
Playing at select theatres.
Please check local listings.
Enter the Fat Dragon was quite the unexpected movie to launch on Valentine’s Day weekend. It has enough romantic elements to make the idea work. Ultimately, it’s an update of the 1978 film of the same name starring Sammo Hung and stays true to the comedic styling that defined that generation of martial arts films. Yes, we all love Bruce Lee, and when paired with the crazy stunts popularized by Jackie Chan’s prowess, it’s a movie to admire.
Fallon Zhu (Donnie Yen) is having a hard go at life. He’s a police officer who ends up being more trouble than he’s worth because of all the collateral damage caused when he brings down a criminal. Because of this, he gets demoted to the evidence department and that means sitting down alot. He has access to a vending machine with all the worst possible junk food he can have and eventually it leads to him gaining a lot of weight. Plus, he has girlfriend problems.
Chloe (Niki Chow) doesn’t want to admit she’s not a great actress. She’s beautiful. However, between her and Zhu, the issue is in how they don’t understand or respect each other’s jobs. This underlying theme is often glossed upon as Zhu deals with a simple task ordered by his superiors: to deliver an informant back to Tokyo. He stumbles across a drug operation led by Shimakura (Joey Tee being his nastiest), and to watch how an overweight officer saves the day is as hilarious as watching a City Hunter movie! When there are supporting characters who feel like they came from this world, including a corrupt Japanese superior officer, the idea is not surprising at all.
From Ip Man to Chirrut Îmwe in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), Donnie Yen is an international actor whom I hope Hollywood will bring in more. The makeup work to transform him to a chubby martial artist is nothing short of amazing; it was none too thick to hide his facial performance, and whatever they used to keep him flexible for those intense fighting sequences meant having some material to make sure his moves are not restricted. While these scenes have a lot of cuts to them, making it more of a Hollywood style production, there’s a few moments where the action takes place all in one camera shot.
By comparison, former police officer Thor (Wong Jing) is big boned and not as sturdy. He quickly becomes buddies with Zhu and his humour helps add to the joy. Jing himself is a big name in Hong Kong Cinema; he’s worked with the prolific Stephen Chow. His collaboration with the writers to bring out the story about Thor’s infatuation with Christina (Teresa Mo), a restaurateur, helps reinforce the Valentine’s theme. People can settle their differences and be together.
As for what’s next, I don’t expect a sequel. It’s a joy to see Donnie Yen on screen. Even behind a stuffed suit, this movie is not about fat shaming. To watch Zhu transform from hero to zero and back again is evident in the earthquake scene. He was not being selfish. As for how to deal with troubled relationships, it simply boils down to both parties properly communicating.
4½ Stars out of 5