Action, HK Style – Pedicab Driver (1989)

Director: Sammo Hung
Starring: Sammo Hung, Nina Li Chi, Max Mok Siu Chung, Suen Yuet, Fennie Yuen Kit Ying, Lowell Lo Koon Ting, Meng Hoi, John Sham Kein, Billy Chow Bei Lei, Lau Kar Leung, Lam Ching Ying

Sammo Hung stars as the head of a group of sworn brothers who happen to work as pedicab drivers and help each other out when it is needed including fighting with the cargo haulers in the very first scene or helping out one of their friends who is down on their luck.

Sammo lives with his aunt who is renting out their property to a bakery. He falls for a young lady working there, only trouble is so has her boss which causes some conflict between them. Real trouble occurs when a seedy brothel owner tries to kidnap the young lady and Sammo has to pedal like hell away on the pedicab while being chased down in a car. One thing leads to another and they end up crashing through the window of a gaming house, leading to Sammo being beaten in a hard fight by the gambling house owner, Kau Kar Leung, but he earns the respect of him and is let go.

One of Sammo’s buddies has fallen in love also, but unfortunately she turns out to be ye olde “hooker with a hear of gold’, which causes a big bust up in the groups ties. Sammo’s love interest slaps them around for being so judgemental and they make up. Everything looks peachy with Sammo’s friend marrying the girl, but the evil brothel owner from before doesn’t like his women to leave, sending around goons to bust up the wedding night and leading to the final throwdown with Sammo vs. the entire gang.

This film was personally recommended to me so I was looking forward to it. Also it is not available on DVD and hard to get on VHS. I am not sure if it has even screened on SBS TV in Australia as I would have remembered it otherwise.

The fight scenes are a lot different from ordinary kung fu films as they seem a lot more harsh and brutal and you see Sammo getting more and more beaten up during the course of the scene. This is especially the case with the fight with Lau Kar Leung in the gambling house and the fight with the gangsters at the end.

I did enjoy the opening scene fight as it starts with a misunderstanding and does have the more playful elements such as the two combatants using fluorescent tubes as light sabres and being electrocuted by them with visible electricity like a cartoon. I did not think the movie was like “the Gods Must be Crazy” but it does have some funny parts to balance out the more serious drama that comes later.

In a lot of ways it does remind me of Kung Fu Hustle and certainly some of the cast from this movie appeared in that film with Sammo Hung doing fight choreography on the fight with the three masters in Pig Sty Alley.

It is a shame that this film is not as widely available as some of the other films from the 1980s as it easily stands alongside movies like Mr Canton and Lady Rose or the Project A movies if you like period drama mixed with kung fu.

While it is a kung fu story it does have things in the film that make it different like showing the result of getting into fights and even not having a normal ending as the main character says he has killed too many people in his quest for revenge and has to now try and dodge the police.

The fight with Lau Kar Leung in the gambling house including a stick battle is easily a stand out and can be watched by its own as it is very satisfying. You do end up understanding why the character who is fighting Sammo ends up respecting him as he does take quite a lot of punishment.

If you can manage to get a copy of this I would definitely recommend it as it is something special.

4 thoughts on “Action, HK Style – Pedicab Driver (1989)

  1. I finally got a good transfer of this recently. Great to see it looking as good it was ever going to, unless it gets a legit DVD/Bluray release (ha!).
    You’re right, I’m sure this never screened on SBS. It wasn’t a Golden Harvest film so I don’t know if they had much resources behind it beyond it getting VHS and laserdisc releases.

    BTW if you haven’t seen them I recommend Sammo’s other Bojon films. Sometimes the films don’t have the greatest stories but his choreography was improving as always. Pedicab Driver is probably the best of the lot of them though.

    1. This was the one movie that was personally recommended to me in the program. There is an unofficial DVD release available as rights issues are currently preventing a proper re-release. I have not seen as many Sammo Hung movies as I would like.

      1. Apologies for the late reply.

        Yeah, rights issues is an understatement. Warner have the rights to it (along with Sammo’s other Bojon films and a bunch of Golden Harvest affiliated films) and don’t seem too keen to license what they have. Some have popped up (only one of these Bojon films) on official DVD in France. The French releases don’t come with English subtitles though.

        I’m aware of the unofficial release. I believe it’s taken from a laserdisc, but there’s more than one unofficial version out there. Unfortunately, in the States and online the bootlegs spread like wildfire. Not sure how prevalent that is here. Though the market for older HK films is not what it was (or HKL releases just didn’t sell as much as they’d hoped).

        There’s some hope as Warner could easily issue these films as part of their Warner Archive series but again, I’m not sure how high the demand would be for them to undertake all the work needed to release these films especially if they think they won’t recoup the costs.

        1. Warner Archive is for titles they don’t think are worth producing bulk copies as they are only manufactured on demand so they would be perfect. I do not know why so many titles are available in France and not other places.

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