“Enter the Fat Dragon”: The legendary Sammo Hung stars as a fat kung fu fightin’ pig farmer

By on November 13, 2018

Enter the Fat Dragon (1978) (a.k.a. Feilong Guojilang/Chinese: 肥龍過江) was the second film directed by its star, the confidently corpulent Hong Kong martial arts legend Sammo Hung, in what appears to have been titled as a parody of both the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon as well as a send-up of the entire Bruceploitation phenomenon of the 1970s.

Watch it now on Night Flight Plus.

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For this English-dubbed story — produced by the H.K. Fong Ming Motion Picture Company — actor, director, producer and fight choreographer Sammo Hung (a.k.a. Samo Hung Kam Po, a.k.a. Hung Kam-bo, b. January 7, 1952, in British Hong Kong) plays a pudgy Chinese pig farmer, Ah Lung, who is obsessed with martial arts movie legend Bruce Lee.

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He pays a visit to his friend, who lives in Hong Kong, and for work gets to help out at his uncle’s Hong Kong restaurant, but wherever Sammo goes, trouble seems to follow, leading to scenes where his mimicry of Bruce Lee (right down to facial gestures like the way Lee stroked his nose) is put to good use.

This film’s big belly (literally!) laughs — including a Chinese actor in blackface and wearing a fake Afro wig, attempting to look like Jim Kelly — are balanced pretty well with the movie’s fighting scenes — like the scene where he beats up a gang of toughs who have refused to pay his uncle — which are all incredibly entertaining.

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Hung has often said that he created kung fu comedy with his directorial debut, 1977’s The Iron-Fisted Monk — certainly one of the earliest martial art comedies although mostly it is known for the great choreographed fight scenes — so it should come as no surprise that the comedy or parody film is where Hung believed he fit in best.

Even so, Sammo Hung — an absolute icon of Hong Kong cinema, he acted with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan (who Hung originally had wanted to star in his film The Iron-Fisted Monk), Donnie Yen and many other martial arts superstars — is a surprising agile and accomplished karate style fighter.

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Enter the Fat Dragon had a belated video release in the United States, eventually coming out in 1999 after director and actor Sammo Hung became an unexpected success with his American TV series, CBS’s “Martial Law.”

Incidentally, there was quite a direct connection between Lee and Hung, who appeared as a Shaolin student in the opening sequence of Lee’s Enter the Dragon.

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It was Hung, in 1978, who was given the opportunity to complete the fighting sequences and do re-shoots for The Game of Death, the film Bruce Lee was unable to complete before his death five years earlier.

Read more about Sammo Hung below.

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Hung was born to parents who were both involved with the Hong Kong film business, although he was raising mostly by his grandparents. He was said to have been an adventurous young man, considered “Big Brother” in his family as he was the oldest child.

Hung’s martial arts training began when he was just ten years old, when he was enrolled in Yu Zhan Yuan’s China Drama Academy.

This was the same institution — run from a small theatre by Master Yu Jim Yuen — at which a young Jackie Chan was later was a student, as was Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, Corey Yuen, Yuen Tak and Yuen Mo (each taking the name of their master as part of their own; these martial arts actors would eventually be known as the “Seven Little Fortunes”).

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At the school, Hung spent at least eighteen hours a day in martial arts training, weapons training, acrobatics, acting and singing.

Hung often got into fights, and there’s one particularly gruesome story which recalls how he got into a fight with a group of boys at a local disco after he was showing off by performing back flips.

Out of jealousy, the boys jumped him once he was outside the club, smashing a pop bottle against his face (his upper lip still shows the scar he will carry for life).

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Hung studied Peking opera for eight years before he decided his life’s goal was to bring spectacular martial arts displays to the entertainment world, often favoring wing chun kung fu — among the many styles he’s studied — in his on-screen fights.

At sixteen, he starred as a Japanese swordsman in a popular swordplay film, A Touch of Zen. Hung began working as an Assistant Action Director with the Shaw Brothers in 1966, on the movie Come Drink With Me (Cheng Pei Pei).

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Thereafter, he appeared in small extra roles and performed stunt work, in films like 1968’s The Jade Raksha, Death Valley, Blak Butterfly and a brief appearance in Bells of Death.

In 1971, at age nineteen, he joined the Golden Harvest film production company, and quickly built up a resume as a minor supporting actor with impressive fight choreography skills.

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Hung worked as an Action Director and actor on Lady Whirlwind, which would be Angela Mao’s first movie for the company.

They would team up for several more Golden Harvest films, including Enter the Dragon, starring Bruce Lee.

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To date, a complete listing of all of the films Sammo Hung has been involved with would include more than 75 starring roles, although according to Wikipedia he’s worked on over 230 movies (and likely the number is now a lot higher than that).

Watch Enter the Fat Dragon — and other films in Night Flight’s Wu Tang Collection — on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.