The Underdog Knight / 硬汉
On Youku (English and Chinese Subtitles / soundtrack mostly Mandarin and a bit of Cantonese).
Looking to see vigilante justice handed down to pickpockets and hit-and-run artists on the streets of Qingdao? Look no further than The Underdog Knight’ (硬汉). This ‘Hong Kong – Mainland China co-production shot in Qingdao just a few years ago brings together a great mash-up of local landmarks and idyllic backstreets alongside some entertaining action and comedy. Within just the first few minutes there is a cross-town conglomerate of shots including ‘Old Town’ alleys, the Firetower, Number Three Beach, Liuting Airport as well as several night scenes at May 4th Square throughout.
The plot is based around the life of Lao San/Old Three (played by Liu Ye, Curse of the Golden Flower, City of Life and Death), a sailor with high prospects until he suffers brain damage from an underwater rescue. Following a forced retirement he continues to ‘serve the people’ by fighting crime on the streets alongside his adolescent look alike. The film climaxes with a hostage crisis at the Qingdao Municipal Museum as some Hong Kong triad members attempt to steal a 900-year-old sword.
Although the plot is not the most solid, and the film actually had a disappointing silver screen run, it’s worth checking out if for nothing else than the first several minutes, when it becomes obvious as to why Qingdao’s rugged, rocky charm is such a desired backdrop for feature films. We also must scoff at the lack of Qingdaohua 🙁 but overall, this movie shows off Qingdao as a pretty cool place for an action movie. MI5 maybe?