Four Dragons is the name given to the U.S. release of a Malaysian film known locally as Kinta 1881. This is the first attempt at a movie in the martial arts genre from the country of Malaysia; many Asian countries are increasing or beginning to produce martial arts movies as the output from Chinese controlled Hong Kong is reduced dramatically. The martial arts used in the movie are based on the Wushu style, of which the four stars are all trained.
Wushu is a style of martial arts that merges the many different versions practiced in China and later spread through the Chinese territories of Asia. The style was developed in post World War II China as the government attempted to standardize the martial arts used in the country.
Released in the U.S. in 2008, Four Dragons is based on the real life tin ore rush that occurred in the Malaysian Kinto Valley in the 1880s. The discovery of tin in the valley caused an influx of Chinese immigrants who moved into the region in search of a fortune made from mining tin; four brothers, the dragons of the title form a vigilante group and fight amongst themselves to become the best Wushu fighter in the region. Included in the cast are a number of Wushu and Tai Chi champions including Michael Chin and former Wushu world Champion Robin Ho. Critical response to Four Dragons derided the plot, but praised the martial arts choreography and photography of the movie. The majority of the action sequences contained in Four Dragons take place in a tin mine that acts as the workplace of the Chinese immigrants to the Kinta Valley.
Four Dragons is directed by C.L. Hor who also directed The Loan Shark and Haq for his production company Absolutely Black and CMG Absolute. Absolutely Black is an offshoot of C.L. Hor's successful Black Box Productions. The film was co-written by Hor and Kam Chow, with action choreography by Hong Kong martial arts stunt veteran Chin Kar-lok. Having performed in a large number of Hong Kong produced movies Kar-lok is one of the most respected stunt performers in the world having begun his stunt career in the 1980s; amongst his credits Kar-lok has performed as the stunt double for stars including Jackie Chan. Four Dragons is a Malaysian production acted in the Cantonese language and has been released in the U.S. with English subtitles and has a running time for the U.S. production is 91 minutes.