The Killer in White (Hong Kong, 1980)

A veteran police constable and rookie officer skilled in kung fu team up for this classic film that starts out as a comedy but then gets serious as the film progresses.

Cheung is a top constable who believes in upholding justice in his town. However, there are certain townsfolk who do not respect him at all and force him in precarious situations. Even his wife, who has a gambling addiction, doesn’t like the fact that he’s a cop who tends to be disregarded. Nevertheless, Cheung stands to his ground and does anything to get respect. When Keung, a young kung fu expert wants to be a cop, at first Cheung isn’t interested. That is, until he learns that Keung is his superior’s nephew and is now forced to take him under his wing.

At first, Cheung and Keung seem to have their differences. However, as they continue to work together, Cheung begins to respect the young rookie due to his impressive martial arts skills. However, as the duo work together more, the insane warlord Master Mang and his men become a serious threat to the pair of cops. When Keung is seriously injured and nursed back to health by Cheung’s wife, he vows not to get involved with them anymore. However, upon his recovery, he begins a huge assault on Mang’s group. This leads to a mysterious killer in white arriving to wreak havoc, forcing the cops in a dangerous situation.

This is quite an interesting classic kung fu film from the director and star who brought you Incredible Kung Fu Master, Joe Cheung and Stephen Tung Wai. The film takes two separate tones, the first half of the film being a kung fu comedy with the second half getting extremely serious. However, what helps is the chemistry between Tung and co-star Roy Chiao, who play a rookie cop and kung fu expert and his veteran partner who works both sides of the law only because his wife nags him due to her gambling addiction.

What’s even more interesting is the eclectic supporting cast of characters who are forced into action with Tung and Chiao, well, mostly Tung. They include “big eye” Addy Sung sporting the most horrendous type of fake teeth in the same vein Hsiao Ho does in Return to the 36th Chamber as a small-time thug who at first seems like a throwaway character; and Peter Chan as one of Master Mang’s henchmen, who tends to be more like a goofball character who covers his own tracks in some pivotal moments. There’s also Benz Kong, who plays another member of Mang’s gang who is not just good with his kicking skills, but his knife skills are quite impressive.

The final bit of the film is where things get very crazy and they involve legendary kung fu actor Yam Sai-koon, who plays Master Mang. It’s pretty clear and predictable who the villain of the film is and what’s insane is that we see Mang in three different forms, similar to that of the masks Leatherface wears in The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. The first is an elderly look in which he sports grey hair and a long beard. Then comes his titular form, where he sports all white and sports white hair and a moustache. Then, his final form comes in dark hair and moustache with his white uniform. While some prints of the film takes out the final seven minutes of the film, those minutes are very brutal and crazy as if Tung goes into a rage similar to Bryan Leung in the classic Thundering Mantis.

The Killer is White starts out pretty funny with Stephen Tung Wai and Roy Chiao as the mismatched police officers and the second half getting more serious in tone with the most insane finale.

WFG RATING: B

A First Films production. Director: Joe Cheung. Producer: Wong Cheuk-hon. Writer: Thomas Tang. Cinematography: Tom Lau. Editing: Marco Mak.

Cast: Roy Chiao, Stephen Tung Wai, Yam Sai-koon, Rosalind Chan, Peter Chan, Ho Pak-kwong, Addy Sung, Fung King-man, To Siu-ming, Benz Kong, Pan Yung-sheng, Huang Ha, Benny Lai, Ka Lee.

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