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Film / The Man from Hong Kong

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♫ You, you've blown it all sky high, Our love had wings to fly, We could have touched the sky, You've blown it all sky high... ♫

The Man from Hong Kong (also known as The Dragon Flies) is a 1975 joint production between the film industries of Australia and Hong Kong, directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith, and is pretty much what you'd expect from that description: a kung-fu movie set in Sydney.

The titular man is Inspector Fan Sing-Ling (Special Branch), played by Jimmy Wang Yu, sent to Sydney after a prominent hitman and runner from Hong Kong, Win Chan, is arrested at Ayers Rock following a drug deal gone bad. Further investigation reveals the man behind it all - a certain Jack Wilton (George Lazenby), undisputed crime lord of the entire city. The local police are initially unwilling to help Sing-Ling due to Jurisdiction Friction, leading him to go after Wilton himself, leading to plenty of kung fu fights and vehicle chases. It doesn't go as planned, but he recovers at a vet's daughter's house and launches one final, successful, assault on Jack Wilton's penthouse.

The film is notable for (as mentioned above) being an Australia-Hong Kong collaboration, featuring George Lazenby in a rare villainous role, and the Breakout Pop Hit, "Sky High", by Jigsaw, which plays during the opening and closing credits.

This film provides examples of:

  • Artistic License – Law: Sing-Ling gets a confession from Wilton under very heavy duress when he stuffs a grenade into his mouth. There's no way that would ever stand up in a court of law. It's rendered moot anyway when Wilton's struggling releases the pin, leading to Stuff Blowing Up.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics / Separated by a Common Language: For some reason, everyone from Hong Kong is speaking perfectly fluent Mandarin Chinese, when Cantonese is spoken much more frequently there. The odds of a Mei Ling, a Singaporean (who would probably know Hokkien and Mandarin), being able to understand Sing-Ling would have been pretty low had he been talking in Cantonese.
    • This was, however, the norm in Hong Kong filmmaking at the time, where Mandarin was the de facto lingua franca by producers trying to sell the film in other Asian territories (where Mandarin is more widely-spoken). Cantonese-language cinema didn't make a comeback until later in the decade.
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Averted, but alluded to when Win Chan refuses to talk.
    Bob: No speakee English, huh? Okay, we'll get someone down from Hong Kong who can speak to you.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: Wilton is watching kung fu sparring when, dissatisfied, he orders four of the students to attack him at once. He defeats all of them handily. This is probably because he's easily at least a head taller than them too, though. George Lazenby has a black belt in Shotokan-Ryu Karate.
  • Bilingual Bonus: This movie is best watched with a knowledge of some Mandarin.
  • The Can Kicked Him: Sing-Ling dunks Win Chan's head in a toilet bowl as part of his "interrogation".
  • Cartwright Curse: Angelica, a vet's daughter, brings Sing-Ling to safety at her dad's house. The two are out on a drive when Wilton's assassins attach a bomb to the car. Guess who dies from the explosion and who doesn't?
  • Chekhov's Gun: Caroline, the Love Interest, first meets Sing-Ling when her hang-gliding path lands her in the police parade square. Guess how Sing-Ling gets to Wilton's penthouse in the end?
  • Covers Always Lie: Amazingly enough, everything depicted on the poster occurs in the movie, except there's only one hang-glider.
  • Description Cut = Visual Pun: An Australian detective wonders where the hero has got to. "I guess he's hanging around somewhere." Cut to Sing-Ling flying a hang glider into the Big Bad's lair.
  • Destroy the Product Placement: A car is sent hurtling into a British Airways advertisement proudly proclaiming to be the only direct flight from Australia to Hong Kong.
  • Eiffel Tower Effect: The opening scene beats you over the head with the fact that it's set in Australia with the establishing shot of Uluru.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Every crashed vehicle ends up blowing up. No exceptions.
  • "Everybody Laughs" Ending: As they watch Wilton's penthouse blow up.
  • First Girl Wins: Generally because Angelica got a bad case of explosion.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Wilton sure loves his Oriental curios.
  • Instant Seduction: When Sing-Ling is supposed to arrest Caroline for breaking into the government property, he instead has a friendly chat with her and one Hard Cut later, they're having sex.
  • It's Personal: When Wilton's assassins kill Angelica.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Sing-Ling starts his interrogation by beating Win Chan up. When Win Chan fights back, it escalates into a full-scale kung-fu fight in a prison cell.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Sergeant Morrie, the junior partner of Inspector Bob (who also falls under this despite being much less jerkish), doesn't want a Hong Kong inspector stealing their thunder, so he's initially as unhelpful as possible to Sing-Ling. This stops when Sing-Ling calls them out on this behavior after their failed attempt to find Big Bad Wilton.
    Bob: (After Morrie went on a tirade against Sing-Ling's Cowboy Cop methods) Alright, cool it.
    Morrie: Oh, shut up, Bob! Hey, enough's enough! Extradite Win Chan: that's what you came here to do, but everywhere you go, you just commit mayhem, man! Look, I'll tell you what I'll do; I'll give you my list of contacts, I'll give you every name I painstakingly bloody gathered over the past two years, and you can do the lot of them. This is Australia, mate - *not* "55 Days at Peking"
    Sing-Ling: (pointing at Morrie, pissed) Hey! Don't give me any shit!
  • Kung-Foley: Par for the course given it's a '70s Martial Arts Movie.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Sing-Ling apparently doesn't give a crap about actual police procedure given his tendency to force his way into Wilton's property left and right, outright beating up a guard in front of his colleague and Wilton's Number Two Willard to get into a room.
  • Man on Fire: Sing-Ling throws Wilton into his own fireplace, but Wilton discards the burning jacket.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Two Aussie cops arrest a Chinese drug mule → A Hong Kong-Chinese cop taking down Australia's biggest Crime Lord and his syndicate.
  • Monumental Battle: The Action Prologue is set at Ayers Rock (Uluru).
  • No Kill like Overkill: In the climax, Sing-Ling stuffs a grenade into Wilton's mouth to coerce him into a confession. When the pin gets released, he chucks Wilton into a safe full of his own explosives.
  • No Name Given: Angelica's friend from Singapore is only named as "Chinese Girl" in the credits, despite getting called "Mei Ling" on-screen.
  • Number Two: Willard, Wilton's secretary. Hell of a lot nicer than his boss, though.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Wilton, who says he finds Chinese "make the best servants" and deliberately goads Sing-Ling by saying he "never met a Chinese who didn't have a yellow streak."
  • The Pornomancer: Sing-Ling, if you believe him.
    Caroline: Do you often take white girls to bed?
    Sing-Ling: Only on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • Punny Name: The alternate title "The Dragon Flies" — in addition to alluding to the Chekhov's Gun.
  • Same Language Dub: An uncredited Roy Chiao dubbed all of Jimmy Wang Yu's English dialogue since he didn't speak the language and had to learn his dialogue phonetically.
  • Samus Is a Girl: The Reveal that the hang-glider in the beginning is being ridden by Caroline.
  • Sissy Villain: Willard is rather effeminate. Somewhat doubles as a Non-Action Big Bad and Fat Bastard, even though he's generally polite to the main characters.
  • Spiteful Spit: Win Chan's only response to Bob's questioning him.
  • Super Window Jump: How Sing-Ling finally enters Wilton's penthouse apartment.
  • Swirlie: Done by Sing-Ling to Win Chan.
  • William Telling: Wilton, with a crossbow.
  • Wok Fu: Sing-Ling chases an assassin into a Chinese restaurant's kitchen, with the fight eventually moving into the restaurant itself.