Ok, first off I want everyone to know I’m not making this movie up. I know it sports a title that seems too ridiculous to be true, but I promise you it is real. In fact this utterly absurd action-comedy is actually a remake of a 1978 Sammo Hung film of the same name. So regardless of how it sounds “Enter the Fat Dragon” is an actual thing – a full length feature film with one of Hong Kong’s biggest movie stars attached.
With that out of the way, “Enter the Fat Dragon” is really a remake in title only. Both films are (obviously) riffing on Bruce Lee’s classic “Enter the Dragon” and are as much comedies as action flicks. But that’s about as far as the similarities go. The 2020 version from co-directors Kenji Tanigaki and Wong Jing is very much it’s own thing; as silly as its title suggests and held together by several well-choreographed action sequences.
The film’s biggest draw is veteran Chinese actor Donnie Yen, a martial arts action star who manages to make everything he’s in better. He plays Hong Kong police officer Fallon Zhou whose full-throttled, ‘never slow down’ attitude keeps him in constant trouble with his superiors at the department. It also doesn’t help his relationship with Chloe (Niki Chow), a second-rate TV actress who thinks she’s top-tier talent. She also happens to be his fiancé and his high-octane antics has them constantly at each other’s throats.
While meeting Chloe for their wedding pictures Fallon cant resist the temptation to intervene with a crime in progress. He catches the bad guys but ruins the photo shoot and puts countless innocent lives in danger. It’s the last straw for both Chloe who leaves him and his captain who moves him off the street and into the basement’s evidence room. Six months of melancholy pass during which a more rotund Fallon gives himself over to overeating and vegging out on the couch watching Bruce Lee DVDs.
Then a friend on the police force offers Fallon a chance to redeem himself. All he has to do escort a key witness to Tokyo and hand him over to authorities. Easy right? Well, shortly after they arrive in Japan the witness disappears, Fallon runs afoul of a dapper Yakuza boss (Joey Tee), some crooked cops come into play, even Chloe ends up involved. With the help of a local ex-cop named Titus (played by co-director Wong Jing) Fallon sets out to do what he does and maybe win Chloe back in the process.
The story (it too by Wong Jing) maintains a steadily playful tone even during its action sequences. Nothing is taken seriously which ends up being both good and bad. In one respect it makes the overall silliness a little more palatable. But it also makes the whole thing feel pretty shallow. Adding to that feeling is the inconsistency of the humor. The high-spirited banter and dashes of slapstick work fine. But the eye-rolling butt gags and fart jokes are cheap and lazy. Also there are countless out-of-the-blue plot pieces that get no attention whatsoever or simply make no sense at all. They just add to the messiness.
Strangely the entire overweight angle (that is featured so prominently in the title) doesn’t play much of a role in film. In fact other than having a star like Donnie Yen running around in layers of prosthetic flab, it’s pretty inconsequential. Surprisingly (and thankfully) there are very few weight jokes. Instead you could almost say the film promotes a positive message of self-confidence, although saying it’s fully committed to that message would be a stretch.
While I wouldn’t call “Enter the Fat Dragon” a good movie, Donnie Yen at least makes it entertaining. He’s fun to watch as a kind and well-meaning flub-up. But (as you would expect) he shines brightest in the action scenes, all expertly choreographed, shot, and performed. Yen may be in his late 50s, but he can still blow your mind whether it’s in a thrilling car chase or a 1 vs 20 martial arts throwdown. Watch it for Yen and IF anything sticks with you it’ll probably be him. Ultimately he’s the one who makes this goofy mess of a movie worth seeing. “Enter the Fat Dragon” is now available on VOD.
VERDICT – 2.5 STARS