KUNG FU STUNTMEN: NEVER SAY NO!, John Wei’s Hard-Hitting Asian Stunt Documentary Lands An Official Trailer
If movies spotlighting the foretold history of stunts in movies is your speed, then writer/director John Wei probably has the right idea in mind, in which case, you could probably take Robin Shou’s Red Trousers: The Life Of The Hong Kong Stuntmen, and make it a double bill with the newest addition to the kiosks, Kung Fu Stuntmen: Never Say No!.
Two years in production and balancing interviews with veterans and newcomers alike, Kung Fu Stuntmen: Never Say No! is jointly produced by the Hong Kong Action Stunt Performers Association and Beijing Jizhi Image Film and Television Culture Co., Ltd.. This one’s got quite the ample load here with up to 100 heavy hitters like Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Donnie Yen, Xin Xin Xiong and Tsui Hark weighing in, along with so many other legendary faces of the craft.
Granted, there’s a lot to be said or continued in discussion with respect to Hong Kong cinema as we come to the end of a longstanding era with so many trailblazers both alive and departed, and it will undoubtedly drive further chatter about the state of cinema going forward with the Mainland standing at the center of it all. Take Hung’s own words, for example, spoken in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter back in 2019 on the topic of the future of martial arts stardom out of the region:
Look at the younger generation in Hong Kong now — where can you find kids who would learn and practice martial arts? There will be no new generation of action stars in Hong Kong now. When we were young, we looked up to the action stars on the big screen and aspired to be them someday. We trained and practiced. And now maybe a kid practices martial arts, but then becomes a salesperson, which he can be anyway without any martial arts training. There is no one for him to look up to. Kids don’t dream of becoming action stars in movies anymore.
Either way you feel about this take or another, if this trailer is any hint, this doc will surely raise the nostalgia for those who’ve followed the wave in the last fifty years or so. Remember feeling Yuen Biao’s kick on the actor doubling Melvin Wong in Righting Wrongs? The first time you saw a blooper reel with Jackie Chan facing one of his near-fatal close calls? Or even the firey peril suffered by the cast in the stomach-churning final shot of Devil Hunters?…
Yep. Crazy shit like that is the lived experience of anyone who’s spent a great deal of their time as Hong Kong cinema fans, and contributes inherently to the instinctive and immediate appreciation of the work that goes into stunts, and imaginably, for Hong Kongers during a time when safety was much less of a priority than getting the shot.
Kung Fu Stuntmen: Never Say No! arrives in the mainland on August 28, so let’s hope we can get this documentary out into the world soon after.
Native New Yorker. Lover of all things pizza, chocolate, pets, and good friends. Karaoke hero. Left of center. Survivor. Fond supporter of cult, obscure and independent cinema - especially fond of Asian movies and global action cinema. Author of the bi-weekly Hit List. Founder and editor of Film Combat Syndicate. Still, very much, only human.