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Operation Scorpio (1991) - a martial arts movie review



Year of release:  1991 Original Title:  蝎子战士
Director: David Lai Original Language:  Cantonese
Chin Kar Lok
Lau Kar Leung
Kim Won Jin
Frankie Chin Chi Leung
May Lo Mei Wei

Alternate titles: the Scorpion King


Although by no means a masterpiece, Operation Scorpio still has great redeeming qualities, making it a very good watch for any martial arts fans. Methods of the west vs. the East are addressed during the training parts, and while clearly biased towards eastern martial arts training, there are never any disrespectful comments towards western ways. If not for anything else, martial arts fan should watch this movie for its inventive and spectacular fight choreography and the martial arts philosophy.

Characters with martial arts background

Yuk Su played by Chin Ka-Lok (錢嘉樂)

Young Misfit who daydreams about being a comic book super hero. He doesn't fight much until the final battles but his fights are entertaining to watch. Due to the comical aspect of his character, his moves are often exaggerated and non functional outside of the movie world.


Master Yat played by Played by Lau Kar-Leung (劉家良)

Master Yat is an unassuming old chef who in reality is a retired killer and a martial arts expert. As usual Lau Ka-Leung movements are realistic and faithful to genuine southern martial arts. In the movie, he plays Yuk Su’s Chinese Kung Fu teacher.


Song Pol played by Frankie Chin

Having studied in France, Pol brings back to his homeland, training methods learned from his stay in France, where we assume he studied and trained. Generous and kind hearted, he never hesitates to help those in need. With his Super hero physique, Yuk Su instantly becomes a fan of his and asks to be admitted to his school.

Fight scenes involving Song Pol showcases his Raw Power and ability to absorb hits without too much damage. No flashy moves, no kicks, only barbarian style raw power.


Sunny, the Scorpion style practitioner, played by Kim Won-Jin

Although he is the main antagonist, we never see him perpetrate any immoral acts. Throughout the movie, he fights to defend his beloved father who is the real villain, cheating young peasant girls into prostitution and running a prostitution ring.

Kim Won-Jin really showcases his superb kicking skills, gluing the viewer to the screen every time he makes an appearance..


Fighting stance of the Scorpion style



After saving a young girl from the hands of the local crime lord, Yuk Su and his father find refuge at master yat's restaurant, Where Yuk Su starts working as an assistant chef. While learning the rudiments of kitchen work, Yuk Su secretly trains toward his goal of becoming a superhero


Historical value

The movie is most likely taking place in the 1920's but no significant historical event is depicted. All characters are fictional.


Training scenes

The training scenes take a good portion of the movie. Directed by Lau Ka Leung, who himself is a real life southern fist master, martial artists can actually learn a thing or two from watching this movie. The training can be split into two categories: eastern and western.



On the western side, lead by the very muscular Song Pol, we see the Yuk Su learn about bodybuilding, pure power and good nutrition. Exercises include hitting (and getting hit by) a punching bag and other basic exercises like sit-ups.


On the eastern side, master Yat teaches Yuk Su how to control his power, predict which side the opponent will throw a kick and finally the real way to execute the infamous no shadow kick.



Being in a chef, master Yat also trains his student while in the kitchen, in scenes reminiscent of the “wax on wax off” exercise of the original karate kid. He throws ingredients at Yuk Su to develop his observation skills and reflexes, makes him handle and wash the woks to presumably   increase the power and endurance of his arm and helps him in various other hitting and strength building exercises.



Fighting scenes

Choreography is inventive and the actors’ movements are crisp and precise. Most of the fights are wire enhanced, despite which, we can clearly see Kim Won-Jin superior kicking techniques. Although the wire work makes the fights a lot less realistic, they do enhance the spectacular aspect of it. Many of the fights feature comic book style fighting, using strange styles and technique and having the people on the receiving end fly great distances after being hit.



Instead of featuring a style, this movie defines a martial arts style: the scorpion style. Although on paper, scorpion style seems silly, the well thought choreography executed by Kim Won-Jin is exhilarating while looking quite potent.




Body conditioning is an important aspect martial arts training

"A body full of fat cannot generate power"


One powerful punch is better than many weaker ones

Lesson taught by Song Pol, Using some unsound mathematical model.

"if you punch 5 times 100 pound punches, that equals to 100x1x1x1x1. At the end, it’s still only 100 pounds"


Strength is only good if it can be controlled

This principle is shown by master Yat when Yuk Su and he, both holding an egg in their hand,  proceed to punch each other, fist to fist. The egg held by Yuk Su explodes while the one held by master Yat is still intact. Master Yat explains that he concentrated his force in his fingers, thus protecting the egg. Unfortunately, he never clearly explains though, why to him, that is important.


Hitting and training on static objects is not desirable as those objects never strike back

Taught by master Yat who goes out or his way to supplement Yuk Su's training by providing moving targets for him to hit.






Last Updated on Thursday, 08 December 2011 23:51  

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