Fantastic Fest Review: Gallants

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Gallants

Please welcome back contributor Rod Paddock as he gives us the lowdown on one of this year's Fantastic Fest features.

If you ever wondered what would happen if The Karate Kid's Mr Miyagi went back to the Cobra Kai and opened a can of whoop ass, you will love Gallants.

Gallants is the story of 98-pound weakling Cheung (You-Nam Wong), assigned by his bosses to evict a group of elderly tenants from the establishment they have rented. The story starts with the typical "weakling meets bully" theme, but concludes with an interesting set of twists and arcs. During his travels to evict the family, Cheung gets himself in trouble picking on a boy half his size. The boy's elders show up to teach Cheung a lesson. During Cheung's beating, an older gentleman carrying a bag of rice happens along. The elders postpone Cheung's beating to taunt the old man. It doesn't take long before the old man teaches the bullies a lesson in humility. Meaning: he opens that can of whoop ass.

After having his bacon saved, Cheung returns to his task and continues into town where he comes to Law's Teahouse. Through a bit of storytelling serendipity the teahouse is operated by two Kung Fu Masters: Tiger (the old man with the bag of rice), played by Kung Fu Hustle star Siu-Lung Leung; and Dragon, played by Flying Guillotine star Kuan Tai Chen. Interestingly enough, Tiger and Dragon are caretakers for Master Law, another Kung Fu master who has been in a coma for 30 years.

It doesn't take long before Master Law is awakened from his slumber and the real story begins. Law, Tiger and Dragon make Cheung their apprentice in preparation for a Kung Fu tournament. During the apprenticeship, we are taken on a journey encompassing numerous battles with unsavories, hilarious montages and an absolutely rib-splitting trip to a Hong Kong juice joint. It's during this process that we can see Cheung becoming a part of the Law family. Gallants transforms from a typical story about a weakling who gets training and saves the day to a story of true transformation.

If you are looking for a non-typical Kung Fu story with a lot of heart, I would heartily recommend checking out Gallants. This is not just another Karate Kid but a true story of duty, honor, family and the realization of getting old.