Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978)

Reviewed by Gail Kogan
May 30, 2014


Jackie Chan • Hwang Jang Lee • Simon Yuen • Dean Shek • Fung Hak On • Tino Wong • Peter Chan • Hsu Hsia • Charlie Chan • Roy Horan
Eagle’s Shadow
Sammo Hung
Yuen Wo-Ping
Version reviewed was in widescreen format. English dubbed.
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Chien Fu is an orphan staying at the dojo of a Hung Fist master and because he’s not too bright, he is constantly being bullied by some of the assistant headmasters while the teacher is away, particularly from teacher Li who always has Chien Fu be the ‘human punching bag’ to bring in new students. One day, Chien Fu comes to the aid of a kindly beggar named Pai Chang Tien, who in turn helps Chien Fu through a fight with disciples and masters from a rival school. When Chien Fu tells Pai about his situation, the kind beggar feels sorry for him and offers to teach him She Quan (Snake Fist style) as a way of thanking the young orphan for helping him out earlier. Pai agrees to teach Chien Fu under three conditions to which the young orphan agrees and in just a short time Chien Fu becomes a formidable fighting machine, even creating a new technique of his own design in the process. Chien Fu will definitely need these new skills to aid in his master’s survival when the sinister Eagle Claw clan led by Lord Sheng Kuan Yin comes to town searching for Beggar Pai…and their intentions are anything but good.
thoughts on the movie

I had watched a lot of Jackie Chan’s modern day movies and a friend lent me his copy of this film telling me that I should watch some of his old school favorites as well. I usually have my reservations about old school martial arts movies but when I saw the first fight at the beginning of this movie I knew I was in for a treat. The story was interesting, the cinematography was beautiful and the comical genius of Jackie Chan and Simon Yuen combined really made for an interesting story. It was like a Chinese version of the ‘Karate Kid’ (no, not the dreaded remake with Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan) and the film was very interesting to watch.

was it funny?
It’s a Jackie Chan film of course…what else would you expect from the man who could take kung fu and use comical elements at the same time in a breathtaking fight scene?
How was the Action?

This film is chop full of fights and the choreography was right on time. You have a lot of veteran superstars and stuntmen in this film besides Simon Yuen and Jackie Chan. There’s Tyrone Hsu, Fung Hak On who has a guest fight earlier in the opening of the film, Western hapkido stylist Roy Horan who plays a Christian priest and of course the King of Kickers himself Hwang Jang Lee who plays the sinister Lord Sheng Kuan Yin who dominates the screen with his high kicks and knowledge of Eagle Claw style. Also, Jackie adds some of his comical elements to the fight scenes so the fights are fun to watch and he has creative improvisation as well.

Standout performance(s)

It’s hard to say for this one because everybody played their role and they played it well. Jackie does an excellent job playing abused orphan Chien Fu and you really feel sorry for him and the abuse he has to put up with earlier in the film. Simon Yuen was fantastic as Pai Chang Tien, the beggar who takes Chien Fu under his wing and teaches him how to stand up for himself…he was practically like a dad to Chien Fu in this movie. And Hwang Jang Lee gives a chilling performance as always playing the villainous Sheng Kuan Yin, a tenacious tyrannical Eagle Claw master who decimates all who stand in his way of wiping out the Snake Fist schools. Overall, everybody deserves an ‘A’ for their performance.

Watch or Pass
6 Reasons Why You Should WATCH or PASS On This Movie
1. WATCH if you are a fan of Jackie Chan or Yuen Wo Ping’s earlier work.
2. WATCH if you like a little comedy mixed in with your kung fu.
3. PASS if old school kung fu and comedy isn’t your thing.
4. WATCH if you’re a fan of movies involving the wonderful Snake Fist technique.
5. WATCH if you’re a fan of the great Hwang Jang Lee.
6. PASS if you like Jackie Chan’s modern day movies better.

Overall, ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’ has a lot going for it in terms of old school flavor and exhilarating fight scenes. Definitely a keeper for anyone who is into Chan’s earlier works and this is definitely one that I’m going to keep for my collection. The Chan-man knows how to entertain and ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow’ has all the goods for an entertaining kung fu comedy. I highly recommend this title to anyone.