House of Fury (2005) — A martial arts flick for everyone

“If you tell me what I want to know, you can go free. There’s no need for any of this pain. It’s not you I want.” “It’s my job.”

Rich’s rating: I wish me and my sister fought like this…

Rich’s review: There’s always a difficulty in reviewing films that we’ll call “Hong Kong Action” films for want of a better classification — the problem being that if you can be entertained by the balletic violence of the martial arts sequences, then you normally overlook the melodramatic, paper thin plots and terrible dialogue which often serve only to carry the plot onward to the next furious 10-minute martial arts extravaganza.

Now personally, I find that entertaining. I know other people might not find a flawless display of wushu the most riveting watch (and these people I also find are often girls, but I’m not here to pigeonhole anyone — oh no, not I), so normally 90% of the reviews of HK Action films can be boiled down to this — “If you like this kind of film, you’ll like it. Otherwise, you won’t.”

Now it’s not that level of cutting edge journalism that has driven Mutant Reviewers into your loving arms, I know. Our readers, they demand a little more from us, and I’m here to deliver. Because House of Fury pleasingly falls into that 10% of martial arts flicks that can actually be enjoyed by all manner of people, regardless of taste.

I came across this little gem while visiting my friend Craig in Scotland — which in case you don’t know, is that place above England where they all wear skirts, jump across crossed swords when they dance, all the men are called Jock, and they eat stuffed sheep stomach for fun (did you really not know that’s what Haggis was? Poor you. I bet you regret eating it now…).

Anyway, between dancing across crossed swords, stuffing sheep stomachs and insisting that I call him “Jock,” Craig (who’s enjoyment of HK action films is similar to mine) showed me House of Fury. With the credits out of the way, let’s move straight on to the actual review of the film.

The plot is typically Hong Kong, and actually comes across far more ridiculous when written down than it does when you’re actually watching the film. Yui Si Bo (or Teddy to his friends) is a very special policeman — his job is to protect the retirement schemes of a number of secret agents who had worked for British Intelligence back when Hong Kong was part of the Queen’s Holdings. Having set several of them up on the Chinese version of the Witness Protection Program, Teddy retires himself, to raise his two teenage kids, Nicky and Natalie.

Nicky and Natalie are your typical, rebellious and troubled late teens. The main difference between them and the characters of Dawson’s Creek, however, is that Nicky and Natalie would be able to kick Dawson, Pacey, and Joey’s asses into the Creek every day of the week without breaking a sweat. Their Dad has taught them to be a bit handy with the old Kung Fu, on the off chance he gets kidnapped by a renegade agent some time in the future and someone comes after them. Seems overly paranoid to them, especially because they believe their Dad’s stories of his time as a secret agent to be a load of old cobblers, to put it politely.

Imagine how stupid they must feel then, when their dad is kidnapped by a renegade agent from the past who targets them as well? I’ll spare their blushes, but the short version is that from that point, Nicky and Natalie are forced to bury their differences and go on a martial arts rampage, with the help of Natalie’s boyfriend, to save their Dad from a fate worse than death — being run over by a bald American in a wheelchair!

Because, unfortunately, while the head villain’s collection of henchmen (particularly his 12-year-old son Nelson, who is pretty handy with a long bit of wood) are appropriately bad-ass, the villainous mastermind is hardly the most threatening opponent for a group of martial arts masters. That is just one of the many tiny flaws that will nag at your mind when watching this.

But despite the fact that it’s cheesier than a cheeto factory, House of Fury is not only action-packed in every sense of the word, it’s sensitive, and genuinely funny throughout — there is some excellent dialogue, and some wonderful sequences when Nicky meets Natalie’s boyfriend Jason for the first time.

Bottom line?

If you like this kind of film, you’ll love it. Otherwise, you still might enjoy it.

See how I’m willing to go the extra mile for you people?

Didja notice?

  • The coolest struggle for the TV remote in any film.
  • Jason is quite the smooth talker when it comes to meeting the parents
  • Sage advice to Jason from a concerned older brother.
  • That Nelson is playing Streetfighter 2 Turbo on his GBA before kicking Teddy Bo’s ass with his big stick
  • Japanese students doing Indian plays about princes who make curry scare me.
  • Pigs are the ideal gift when visiting your girlfriend for dinner. And men go crazy for Moose key-rings
  • Trained agents can synthesize any word or combination of words from the vocal patterns of someone saying “answer me” apparently.
  • Natalie’s friend from school is quite the tease.

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