Gallants (2010) – The Kwai Problem

In 2010-11 the Hong Kong kung fu comedy “打擂台 / Gallants” became a smash hit.  It won Best Picture at the Hong Kong Film Awards, and rightly so;  its charming elderly cast and gentle silliness is a joyful affirmation of life.  I absolutely love the film.

But there’s one thing about “Gallants” that troubles me.  That is Kwai.

Kwai (JJ Jia) is a young woman who loves and cares for two elderly men (Chen Kuan Tai and Leung Siu Lung) who operate a tea house in their comatose master’s “Law Gate” martial studio.

A young loser named Cheung (Wong You Nam) finds his way to Law Gate and hopes to learn kung fu from the two men.  When he joins Law Gate, he is

Leung Siu Lung - Wong You Nam - Gallants
WEAK
Wong You Nam as Cheung - Gallants
AND TERRIFIED OF JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING.

He also bullies children.

Law Wing Cheong - Wong You Nam - Gallants

He is a debased, pathetic worm.

 

On the other hand, Kwai is

JJ Jia - Lo Meng - Gallants
CAPABLE
JJ Jia - Gallants
AND BRAVE.

 

She is completely loyal to the men she caretakes.  She physically fights to protect them.  She cooks and cleans for them.  She deeply believes in Law Gate’s traditional values.

I don’t think anyone will argue about the personalities of these two characters.

When Master Law (Teddy Robin Kwan) awakens and begins training his students, Kwai is clearly one of them.

JJ Jia - Chen Kuan Tai - Leung Siu Lung - Wong You Nam - Gallants
*cue awesome theme song*

 

And when it’s time for the team to prepare for a big competition and there is an ubiquitous training montage, Cheung does this:

Wong You Nam training montage - Gallants
LEARN KUNG FU FROM THE OLD MASTERS!  COOL!

During the same training montage, Kwai does this:

jj jia training montage - Gallants
CLEAN AND CARETAKE.

 

Cheung is at heart a good person.  He deserves to break out of his state of miserable debasement.  He is willing to work hard and, when an opportunity comes, he transforms his wimpy loser self into a strong, honorable, self-actualized adult male.  Great!  The End!

And Kwai?  What happens to her?

 

JJ Jia serving - Gallants
CLEAN AND CARETAKE.

Except now she has to take care of Cheung too.

I sincerely hope this is what Kwai wanted.  If so, my heart might feel less troubled.

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