Lizard, The (1972)


lizard shaw poster


A superthief known only as The Lizard has been plaguing police and the wealthy for years. Taking on a Robin Hood level of notoriety he is idolized by the poor and especially by young Xiao (Connie Chan), the granddaughter of a ranking police inspector. Unbeknownst to her and everyone in the police, The Lizard is actually Cheng Long (Yueh Hua), her childhood friend and low level beat cop. Hiding his considerable martial arts skills under a veneer of dimwittedness and a stutter, he seeks to expose a corrupt police inspector (Lo Lieh) while keeping his identity secret a secret.
With direction by Chu Yuan and choreography by the Yuen clan, The Lizard is a comic book style story full of humor and deception. Much lighter in tone than most well known Shaw productions, the film revels in The Lizard’s deceptions and plays on the audience’s knowledge of his true identity when in his stuttering alter ego. There are numerous action scenes with standouts a rescue sequence featuring Chan and Wu Ma and the extremely bloody finale bridge fight. Chan handles her action well but she never truly convinces with hits though her movements are fast and graceful. Hua, not an actor I typically associate with other kung fu greats is generally good though he never given too much in the way of intricacy with his fights. It’s a good performance however despite the lack of wow factor in the fights; he really sells his character and gets you behind him easily. Lo Lieh is terrific as the raping, blackmailing, and corrupt officer tasked with capturing The Lizard. He’s brutal and as big a bastard as they come making it really easy to hate him.
Production value is great with some very well designed sets and dynamic camerawork. The photography is noticeably better than most other Shaw films of the era with framing being most improved especially with distant and perspective shots. Music is solid and memorable, especially considering the tone and thematic materials.
One of the most overlooked entries in the Shaw Bros. library, The Lizard provides entertainment value in spades. Lo Lieh is a terrific villain and the film features some great set pieces. With a fun tone and good pacing, this is a film worth revisiting for its mixing of genres and the fact that it does so well. Of note is that this is the final film from 60s megastar Connie Chan, a perfectly serviceable and agreeable addition and ending to her career.
You may enjoy this film if you liked: Iron Monkey, My Young Auntie, Mark of Zorro, and/or Fong Sai Yuk

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Long time film lover and occasional writer. I watch anything and everything though I have massive love for the works of Shunji Iwai, Jackie Chan, Johnnie To, and Kinji Fukasaku. POP! POP!

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