Warriors Two [贊先生與找錢華] (1978)
AKA Mr. Tsan and Money-Changer Wah (Literal Translation)
Starring Leung Kar-Yan, Casanova Wong, Sammo Hung, Dean Shek Tin, Fung Hak-On, Lee Hoi-Sang, Tiger Yang Seong-Oh, Yeung Wai, Choe Moo-Woong, Lau Kar-Wing
Directed by Sammo Hung
Expectations: I love this one.
Warriors Two is one of the great kung fu films of 1978, if not the entire ’70s. It’s easily Sammo Hung’s best film up to this point in his directorial career, and it would be flawless if it lost the Sammo/Dean Shek fight during the finale. It’s not bad, per se, it just deflates the crescendo and creates a plateau where I patiently wait to return to the main villain’s demise. But Sammo is a professional, and its inclusion was a choice. He wanted the tension broken by humor, and the choreography is unique. Besides, it probably played better in 1970s Hong Kong when kung fu comedy was in its early days.
The lineage of Wing Chun is explained during the film’s opening, leading us to Leung Tsan (Leung Kar-Yan) and Money-Changer Wah (Casanova Wong), and wouldn’t you know it, the film’s Chinese title translates to Mr. Tsan and Money-Changer Wah. Both characters were real people important to the proliferation of Wing Chun throughout the world. Leung Tsan was born in the 1820s, and was known as the King of Wing Chun in Foshan. He is one of the earliest Wing Chun practitioners with a historical record that proves he actually existed. Money-Changer Wah was born in the 1830s, and, after learning from Mr. Tsan, went on to become Ip Man’s first Wing Chun teacher. If you didn’t know it going into Warriors Two, you know by the end of the intro that this is more than a martial arts movie, it’s a Wing Chun movie, and it takes the art seriously.