|The Screaming Tiger (1973)|
|Starring:||Jimmy Wang Yu, Cheung Ching Ching and Lung Fei|
|The Plot: Jimmy Wang Yu plays a wandering martial artist who found his beach-side village completely decimated by the Japanese, and demands vengeance on every single Japanese man who crosses his path. After leaving China for the Japanese shore, he wanders into a local village where a group of bandits cross his path attempting to pickpocket him. Wang Yu manages to catch them in the act, and quickly gives them a beating. When he notices a man following him, who wears the dress of a Komuso monk, he wanders outside of town to see just what this person has in mind. As it turns out, the man is really Chinese and he tries to persuade Wang Yu from holding bitterness in his heart. Wang Yu doesn’t take the advice all too serious, and instead heads back into town where he is then pickpocketed by a young woman. He attempts to follow her, but this only leads him to trouble. He and this young woman become romantically involved, and as Wang Yu discovers more about her, he finds that searching out her boss may very well lead him to the man who destroyed his home.|
The Screaming Ninja, The Screaming Tiger and Wang Yu, King of Boxers, all of these are alternate titles, but not one of them accurately describes the film. If I were to name it, I think I would go with the much more descriptive Jimmy Wang Yu Beats Up Japan. This title seems to be far more fitting, because Wang Yu’s xenophobic view of the Japnese is seemingly more brazen than your average kung fu title looking to go over similar territory. Whoever wrote this picture painted it with their very bitter disgust for the Japanese, and this anger can be felt throughout the picture. The film sometimes takes a fairly dark turn, and these racial tensions stop feeling light and humorous and start seeming dark and slanderous. At the point where we see Jimmy Wang Yu take on and beat four sumo wrestlers, the movie almost seems as if it is preoccupied with defaming all facets of Japanese culture. The film tries to save itself from being pure propaganda by including scenes where Wang Yu is punished by being sternly spoken to for being so racist. However, it is too little after too much. The “fish out of water” scenes that explain the cultural differences between China and Japan are entertaining, and they do manage to lighten the mood a bit. However, they still seem to have the impact of poking fun at the Japanese rather than explaining the differences between cultures. Only one side is shown as being “correct,” and that is the side of the Chinese.
One thing that always made Wang Yu special was how much his films loved to focus on varying martial art styles. The Chinese Boxer films and the One-Armed Boxer series were perfect examples of this. Featuring martial art skills from all over the map, these movies actually shed some light on the Chinese view of arts such as Judo and Muay Thai. Screaming Tiger, due to its focus on Japan, certainly mixes things up, and it shows multiple battles between Japanese karate/judo with Chinese kung fu. The film actually demonstrates a decent amount of knowledge about these arts, as the fight scenes are very well choreographed. Arm locks and traditional judo throws are shown during some fight scenes, and it adds to the overall sense of a martial-arts-variety that Wang Yu seemed to have a fascination with. So many of his films capitalized on this. One gets the sense that it was either a stigma that audiences had when picturing his work or it was something he generally cared a lot about. Surely he didn’t have creative input on every last one of these films, so you have to imagine that this was just a gimmick that audiences expected from Jimmy. However, knowing his temper and control-freak attitude, I wouldn’t be surprised either way. Seeing the intensity of his choreography, one has to imagine that there was a personal interest involved in these projects.