Chik geuk siu ji (1993)
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Johnnie To remakes Chang Cheh's Disciples of Shaolin in The Bare-Footed Kid, keeping the comedic kung fu beggar and the war between weaving houses, though I didn't get a case of déjà vu or anything. A fresh-faced Aaron Kwok (Cold War) stars as the titular characters, and is much more sympathetic than Fu Sheng in the original, which perhaps makes the film's third act, Chang-style sadism a little harder to accept. It starts with silly comedy, a sweet romance, and for the supporting stars - Maggie Cheung and Ti Lung - something more grand and subtle. The turn is perhaps at too sharp an angle. Tonally disjointed, the film also suffers from being smothered in a sappy score, though the action is on par, in quality and style, with other martial arts films of the early 90s, which is to say, the standard set by Tsui Hark in Once Upon a Time in China. Despite its flaws, The Bare-Footed Kid is on solid ground when it comes to tracking its lead's loss of innocence, concerned as it is with learning to write one's name (and thus make one for oneself) and finding a sense of belonging through the symbolism of shoes. Just a little more to it than you'd expect, which is To's calling card, really.
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #56 in Wei Jun Zi's 100 Classic Martial Arts Films
This movie ranks #174 in LoveHKFilm.com's The Best Hong Kong Films Ever