The one thing you should see this week
This week’s pick: Gallants at the Reel Asian International Film Festival
Enter the Crippled Dragon, Hindered Tiger. Reel Asian, consistently one of the city’s best festivals, high-kicks things off Tuesday night with Gallants, a sweet, manic comedy by Clement Cheng and Derek Kwok. Kung-fu legends Chen Kuan-Tai and Bruce Leung charm as Dragon and Tiger, two weary warriors who have spent the past 30 years caring for their comatose mentor, Master Law (Teddy Robin, in an inspired, frighteningly madcap performance). When a bumbling real estate agent named Cheung is dispatched to the men’s village to settle a land dispute involving their tea house, they become unwitting teachers to the hapless urbanite through a series of awesomely improbable events.
Gallants is a touching, ridiculous homage that handily folds in the hallmarks of classic martial arts cinema—the influence of the Shaw brothers is felt in the vertiginous zooms, freeze frames and retro soundtrack. The all-important rivalries are there, too: the weak wannabe Cheung is confronted by the kid he used to beat on in school, now a buff bully bent on revenge; the geriatric Tiger and Dragon have to prove their physical mettle to the owner of a glossy new gym across town; and Master Law, upon awakening, has to do battle with amnesia, with hilarious results (it involves preserved duck and a gentlemen’s club).
The film’s meta-ness is a major draw for kung-fu fans, but it’s not the only one: even initiates will love the underdogs-make-good story. As Tiger (and that other famous hard-headed bruiser) says, “It ain’t about how hard you hit; it’s about how hard you get hit and keep moving forward.”
The details: Nov. 9. $12. Bloor Cinema, 506 Bloor St. W., 416-703-9333, reelasian.com.