The mid-80s showed the Shaw Brothers studio, especially its famous action division, in its death throes. Few films show this fin de siècle quite as obviously as ‘I Will Finally Knock You Down, Dad!’, a kung-fu comedy that is very light on the former and not especially strong on the latter.
A rich young wastrel (Chin Siu-Ho) who is constantly disappointing his father (Chen Kuan-Tai), finds himself clashing with his contemporaries over the trivial pursuits that consume them all. Whether it be gambling or trying to impress the local ladies, the son busies himself in ways that embarrass the family name. However, it is only when he falls foul of the owner of a fabric mill – who gives him a painful lesson in kung-fu – that he resolves to better himself. Now he has the ultimate goal of proving himself a man by not only avenging his defeat, but also getting the upper hand against his father.
It should be a criminal offense to waste a cast and crew like this. Chin Siu-Ho at his zenith, Lo Lieh, Phillip Ko Fei, Chen Kuan-Tai and with ace choreographer (and ‘King of Sticks’) Hsu Hsia behind the lens, this should have been a great swansong for the Shaw Brothers studio. Instead, we get a low-rent comedy that reminded more of a 70s sitcom rather than a kung-fu film; it even has a wacky title that would be perfect for a bit of ‘Bless This House’-style hijinks. I was hoping Reg Varney or Sid James would pop up to enliven things, but sadly, they were noticeable by their absence. What viewers must have thought when looking over at what Golden Harvest were producing at the same time, in the same genre.
Viewers may consider a couple of one-on-one duels, namely between Phillip Ko Fei and Chen Kuan-Tai and Chin Siu-Ho respectively, a reward for their patience. However, their appearance and cool, crisp quality is a sour reminder of what might have been. The same lead duo and director had given audiences the wildly uneven ‘Fast Fingers’ the year before, but whereas that was entertaining, ‘I Will Finally Knock You Down, Dad!’ is a bit of a slog.