Good Shaolin monk story. Actually contains some interesting Buddhist thought. Martial arts directed by Yuen Biao, and it shows. Impressive wu shu performances throughout. Lengthy training scenes, excellent finale. Story has a dead spot in the middle in which the hero (the annointed Shaolin successor) wanders the country in disguise and saves a town from being overrun by bandits. Should have been edited out.
This film is an embarassing insult to Bruce Lee, and a major disappointment. For who knows why, the writers distorted the facts on Lee's truly amazing life and martial arts accomplishments. At least 70% of what is in the film is fictionalized and ludicrous. It is hard to believe Linda Lee Cadwell, Bruce Lee's former wife, approved of this project. Jason Scott Lee is awful. He is as bad or worse than the average Bruce Lee imitator of the 1970s. His martial arts skills are non-existent. This is shocking since Lee supposedly trained with some of Bruce Lee's jeet kune do followers. Jason clearly did not study Lee's movements, has zero knowledge of wing chun (he flails at the wooden dummy with non-sensical moves), and cannot kick. He spends the movie screaming and going bonkers, but he captures nothing of Bruce Lee. A shame this movie ever came out.
This is a gem. A classic Shaolin Temple epic, similar in story and spirit to Jet Li's first "Shaolin Temple" but (surprise) superior in pure martial art content. Stars four genuine Shaolin kung fu champions from mainland China, supported by a cast that is also quite skilled. Plenty of well-choreographed and lengthy fight sequences. Moves are executed with precision, speed and snap without any wires. No kung fu fan will be disappointed.
This movie about swing-era Shanghai gangsters is a terrible bore and devoid of martial arts except for the finale. Yuen Biao, who plays a brooding, intense and (for once) humorless character, beats the hell out of his nemesis and looks tough doing it. That makes up for the rest of the movie, which would have gotten a rating of 0.
Three Kingdoms-era sword epic starring wu shu master Yu Chenghui (who also starred as the bad guy in "Shaolin Temple"1 and 3). Impressive sword skills, but not much variety over the course of the film (that's all he does), and the story doesn't quite sustain. However, the locations, pageantry and Pan are worth respect.
The Chinese fairy tale version of the creation of the universe. This movie gets my vote as the single worst films ever made. It's almost unintelligible. Eighty percent of the film is so dark you can't see what's going on. The script makes almost no sense (like a strange teenager's rambling super 8 movie, only it's 2 hours long.) Think of a bad episode of Star Trek with primitive cavemen, only speaking Mandarin. Lots of people in grass skirts pointing at the sky (at "gods" who, poof, appear on mountain tops) or looking at each other. Do not be fooled by the cool promotion artwork on the box (Chen Sing in a one-legged stance, another guy throwing a high kick---these scenes aren't even in the movie!) Cheesiest "special effects" ever seen. No martial arts. Chen Sing is Pan Ku (the Chinese atlas), who, dressed in a loincloth, grunts and holds up the sky.
Before reaching stardom ("Snake in the Eagle's Shadow"), and before he hit his artistic stride, Jackie Chan appeared in a number of mediocre, relatively sober (non-comedy) "pure" kung fu productions. This early effort directed by Lo Wei was perhaps Jackie's most conventional role: a "mute" boy who is trained by two monks at Shaolin Temple (one a renegade, the other a reclusive old master) and a Buddhist nun, with the goal of avenging his father's death. Along the way, he must fight through the Shaolin Wooden Men hall (an alley of mechanical wooden dummies). Jackie's non-verbal acting is greatly restrained, close to horrible. Almost as if Lo Wei had shouted through a bull horn: "Cut! Jackie, please no expressions! Remember, this movie is about WOODEN MEN!" The story contains some dead spots, but is enjoyable enough. The action is plentiful. Lots of training scenes. You can tell from the long opening credits what kind of film it is: Jackie takes on monks using various animal styles (panther, tiger, crane, snake). Unfortunately, throughout the film, Jackie's movements are fluid, on the flowery side, and a bit slow. Styles: Jackie emphasizes snake and what appears to be variations of hung gar, combined with acrobatics (somersaults, flips). Jackie finally wakes up in the final duel vs. Kam Kong. This fight is more reminiscent of later Jackie fare ("Snake in Eagle's Shadow", "Drunken Master").
Lackluster film (even the version Jackie reshot). Some interesting kickboxing. Kickboxing champion Bill Wallace is the villain and (as he did in a few other Jackie movies) clearly overpowers Jackie. Of course, Jackie does something silly and wins.
Another in long series of films in which Korean kicker HWL looks better than everyone else but loses because he's the bad guy.
All-star cast. However a wasted effort. Not much martial arts until the end, and the stars' have short fight scenes.
Chia Ling is smooth, nice kicks. Tam Tao Liang (in a cameo) is very good with his kicks, too (this is the best part of the film). A weird effort which includes guys dressed in monkey suits doing kung fu.
is another outstanding mainland Chinese epic which gets a huge upgrade
upon inspection (now by a more experienced reviewer). The cast features
Don't be fooled into thinking this Chin dynasty historical epic has any martial arts. Lots of horses, axes and dust.
Stars: Ho Chung Tao (Bruce Li), Hwang jang Lee, Carter Wong. MA rating: 4
If there is one Bruce Li movie worth watching it's this one. Lots of wing chun (Ho Chung Tao's original schooling) including cameo by Lo Man Kam (wing chun master teaching in Taiwan). The Bruce Lee imitation is better than average here, and relevant to the story. Hwang Jang Lee explodes into the film as a Japanese villain, and kicks Bruce Li into oblivion, but of course, loses to "Bruce Lee tricks". Carter Wong has a small role (he uses hung gar).
Classic kung fu story about Ho Yuen Chia (Fok Yuen Gop), founder of Ching Wu Academy and the mi-tsung i style. Very detailed choreography on (supposedly) the Fok family style. Kurata is powerful (as always). Leung is a little slow, but decent. The mi-tsung techniques are somewhat missing.
Another one of those awful "little smartass kung fu monk children" movies. Thoroughly without redeeming values. The young hero (played by the guy who was Fong Sai Yuk in "Burning Paradise") is lackluster with his techniques in the few fight scenes. Yu Rong Guong does nothing.
If you like Jackie Chan for his humor, this is a barely watchable separated-at-birth/identity confusion caper. If you're looking for martial arts, there is very little.
Another showcase for Tam the kicker, who kicks almost exclusively with his left leg. Like many other films he did in the later years of his career, Tam is a bit slow in this one, especially his hand techniques. His co-star is very flexible (wu shu-ish leg techniques).
Considered a grand production at the time it was made. Movie moves a bit slowly. Chen Sing is his usual nasty self in this one (quick, powerful palm and tiger claw). James Tien is very slow. Sammo has a small part. Casanova, in one of his first roles, shows up at the end with his typical somewhat wild tae kwon do kicks.
A snoozer. Primarily a Wang Yu movie, which means not much technique, more swords than fists, not much speed and an agonizingly boring plot. Jackie is a bad guy in this movie and is utterly forgettable.
Hwang got sick of being typecast as the bad guy, so he's the hero in this one. He doesn't do a good job conveying warmth. He's nasty, his Korean kicks are vicious. He destroys everyone as usual, although not with as much relish as he would as a villain. Good staff duel. Fans of Hwang will love the fact that he walks into the sunset in this one, victorious.
Despite the very impressive cast, this 1987 HK cops-in-the-Golden-Triangle quickie is generic and a waste of great talent. Not enough kickboxing and not nearly enough Moon Lee (who is widow dressing up until the finale). Way too much "scheming" and preening pretty boys (Hideki) and girl-pouting. The Moon Lee vs. Yukari kickboxing scene is very good. Otherwise, it's a forgettable picture.
Action directed by Stanley Tong, this trimmed-down followup to the first "Angel" film once again places the crack HK cops in S.E. Asia (Kuala Lumpur), this time against a terrorist (Chan) who is a former school buddy of Fong's. Enjoyable yet generic story that (again) does not feature enough kickboxing. Most of the story focuses on the men. Moon Lee once again is wasted until the last ten minutes, where she gets a great but short kickboxing duel. Elaine Lui''s MA skills are also wasted.
This is a ghost movie about the restless spirit of a Peking Opera performer, but there is more Moon Lee kung fu than in many of her modern-day movies. If you can overlook the pseudo-Ghostbuster special effects, this one is worth watching.
Lightweight action soap opera directed by Wu Ma about a troupe of acrobats fallen on hard times during the Japanese occupation, who get tangled up with bad guys who run a drug smuggling outfit. The action scenes (which do not feature specific styles) are sprinkled throughout, with Donnie Yen stealing the show. Yuen Biao is unfortunately not at his best, although still very acrobatic. He must resort to tricks to defeat a kickboxing Ken Lo.
Stars: Yu Rong Guong, Donnie Yen. Director: Yuen Woo Ping. MA rating: 3
Similar in spirit to "Once Upon A Time in China", this one also wastes a good cast with too many wire effects. Donnie's skills, however, cannot be overlooked (nice kicks, good quickness). Yu is better than usual in this one, uses more classical moves.
JG, wife of Sammo Hung (who directed this picture) stars as a master thief who is betrayed and framed by a partner. JG eventually goes good, and helps the police stop her old nemesis. Nice kickboxing and "La Femme Nikita"-like action. This is also one of Yuen Biao's finest overall comedy/action performances. He plays an insane nephew of a cop who thinks and talks like he is a hero from a swordplay film. He appears like a superhero. His kickboxing is good here also. If you enjoyed "She Shoots Straight", you'll like this one.
wife of Sammo Hung (who directed this picture) stars as a master thief
who is betrayed and framed by a partner. JG eventually goes good,
and helps the police stop her old nemesis. Nice kickboxing and "La
Femme Nikita"-like action. This is also one of Yuen Biao's finest
overall comedy/action performances. He plays an insane nephew of a
cop who thinks and talks like he is a hero from a swordplay film.
solid, late 1970s Taiwanese kung fu movie with an interesting story
involving a guilt-ridden Republic-era ex-lawman Wang Tao who becomes
a wandering drunk who stumbles (literally) into a nasty town and white-haired
Mongolian bandit, Chang Yi. Wang delivers with his hung-gar variations,
Very interesting in that Shaolin abbot Tai Heng consulted on this movie, which was about Shaolin tongxikung. Genuine forms demonstrated by capable performers, shot at the Temple.
Horrible, violent but extremely funny Taiwan/1970s movie. Moppy-haired thugs beat the crap out of each other sloppily. Hwang Jang Lee is a Japanese villain who brutalizes meek Taiwanese workers. The line "you damned Japanese" shows up every few scenes.
All 3 stars go to Chang Yi, who is once again the nearly unbeatable white-haired preying mantis villain. Ho Chung Tao gets smoked in this one, shows no definable technques and doesn't even get to impersonate Bruce Lee. Nasty scene of a pig being gutted---while alive.
A waste of talented cast. Silly story in which Moon and Cynthia moon over Waise Lee. Kickboxing is a bit sloppy.
Lively, enjoyable Yuen Biao capers. No specific martial arts styles. Typical acrobatic/kick boxing from Yuen brothers.
Not much of interest in this overrated movie. Sanada is irritating and cocky, and his ninja tricks are stupid. Hwang, clearly the superior fighter, goes down in defeat again.
Obscure but beautifully done mainland Chinese production featuring wu shu champions, including a young Zhao Changjun (who would later star as a villain in "Blade of Fury" and "One Armed Hero"). Two recognizable female wu shu players who have appeared in other mainland epics. Besides nice locations (Wudangshan), the film is one of the few to showcase all Chinese internal styles in one film: hsing-i, pa kua, tai chi sword, some chen tai chi. Taoist philosophy too. Refreshingly, the English dubbing on the US release is done by Chinese people, so it sounds natural.
Epic about the followers of general Yueh Fei (founder of hsing-i kung fu) and Sung dynasty China. Excellent, crisp wu shu and northern styles by all performers. Anyone with a taste for history can get into this one.
Disappointing, irritating Hong Kong production full of wire stunts (flying people), too many quick cuts and crap. Feels like a Hong Kong ghost movie. Not much martial arts from the cast (except for Donnie, but his scenes are ultra short). Lot of preening Hong Kong stars and starlets talking.
The first and possibly the best Donnie Yen film, featuring a young Donnie (fresh out of his training at the Beijing Wu Shu Academy). Superior kicks, and well-elucidated training and philosophy on tai chi. Tai chi moves are executed well. Despite the title, there is no drunken style featured.
of the last pure martial arts films from Yuen Wo Ping, starring a
young prodigy (who would later reprise the role for Hong Kong TV).
The tai chi techniques used by Jacky are excellent (watch in slow
mo for the
Very complete Donnie film, his best for overall story/acting/production values. Very noir, dark. Donnie is a burned-out cop (great role for him). Good kickboxing.
This one is considered by many to be the "ultimate martial arts movie". It ain't, but it ain't bad. The first 60% of it is a waste and a bore. Silly (very Jackie Chan-esque) comedy fight scene in the middle is totally unecessary. The climax, however, is pure kung fu and worth the wait. Lau Kar Leung is awesome, showing off a variety of southern Chinese systems. The weapons duel is the best on film.
Apocalyptic sci fi tale of a world without water. A pretentious, awful movie. No martial arts whatsoever (only wire stunts). Three girl stars strutting like the Hong Kong divas that they are.
Prototype of late 80s HK kickboxing-and-guns blitzkrieg. Fast pace, good kickboxing from all cast members, especially Donnie (good wing chun-like hands in this one).
Pretty much know what to expect from this Sammo Hung caper. A light action story sprinkled with comedy, kickboxing (always pretty good, especially Sammo) and, always, a finale in which the heroes get to duel with the bad guys, one after the other. Yuen Biao always looks good then struggles against a larger, meaner opponent and wins by cheating or getting saved. Sammo smokes his opponent.
A pretty generic "cast of too many" HK cop flicks starring some typically implausible and too-cute stars (Cheung Man as a cop? Carrie Ng as a kickboxing cop?Yeah, right.) The whole thing is forgettable until Donnie Yen blows into the scene as his usual pissed off, over the edge, police brutality-prone cop from America. Although he is unfortunately not the star of this one, he steals it. Military ungle raid finale is notable only for short kickboxing duel between Donnie and Lau Kar Fai, and some amazingly agile kicking from Michael Woods. Disappointing ending.
WRONGS (See also ABOVE THE LAW)
Fast-paced double-cross HK cop movie. Yuen Biao's kickboxing is better than usual here (watch for a spectacular jumping spinning roundhouse kick in slo mo). Unfortunately, he once again almost loses to a bigger opponent. Rothrock's kickboxing is good, too.
A sprawling epic that came at around the time of the early Jet Li/"Holy Robe of Shaolin"/authentic China era. Similarly, this one features spectacular authentic location scenery of the strange Yungang grottoes (northwest China), obligatory Shaolin Temple visit and fighting monks, and a typically back-and-forth patriotism storyline. The stars of this film are decorated wu shu champions. Although the main character is somewhat disappointing, his supporting cast is excellent. Warning: much screen time devoted to an chubby 'comedy' sidekick (a 'funny beggar' type) with a crew cut. These scenes are annoying.
This is a documentary of a Chinese national wu shu forms championship. There are some incredible athletes. After the first ten minutes, only the most hardcore wu shu practitioner (looking for technical details) will stay interested. That's because the many competitors shown perform many of the same forms (chang chaun, nan chuan, a whole bunch of weapons forms, no tai chi), the same moves, and with almost the same stylistic nuances. Although quite impressive, this film also shows the damage the Communists did to the Chinese martial arts in the 1960s. They homogenized the hell out of kung fu. We can only pray that the hundreds of genuine styles are still practiced outside of the wu shu halls...somewhere out there.
Mainland Chinese production about the Emperor Kangxi's search for his missing father. Quite long-winded and situational. The martial art content is average but nothing exciting. Scenes are predominantly mass battles scenes. Beware of the US release. The english dubbing is done by a bunch of Chinese American-sounding jokers who play it silly like "Mystery Science Theater"
There is a picture-perfect Donnie Yen kickboxing battle in which he shows his speed, timing and great form. Too bad the rest of the film is a generic and boring HK cop story. Donnie gets bumped off rather early. Simon Yam is slimy, Jacky Cheung is bug-eyed and idiotic, DoDo is hapless.
like classic late 1970s comedy kung fu, this will do it for you. Choreographed
by Jackie Chan, and it shows. The techniques are typical of the era,
very similar to the ones in "Snake in eagles shadow" and
the non-drunk stuff from "Drunken Master 1": acrobatic,
colorful moves derived from various southern
That's right. A big fat zero. Great kung fu cast? Forget about it. This pathetic film is about Jackie struggling to raise a retarded brother, Sammo. Nearly two hours of Jackie being aggravated, screaming "HEE YA!" while Sammo sticks his lower lip out and acts dumb (and gets them into trouble), then asks for food or something. The action is almost non-existent, and what little there is (very short sequences in which Jackie does some generic kickboxing, Sammo has no action scenes).
A classic kung fu movie, from the storyline to the action. A very acrobatic cast of highly-skilled, mostly-Southern styled screen fighters. Biggest treat is Casanova Wong, who is (for a change) the villain. He is especially sharp, dominating and fast (as mean as Hwang Jang Lee), shows off his hand techniques as much as his kicking. Peter Cheng is more an acrobat than a fighter, and (of course) resorts to tricks to win.
Another prototypical late 70s/early 80s feature full of the stereotyped characters you love: dorky young kid who has to learn from an old master who's reluctant to teach, a couple of great women fighters, and a nasty villain. Features southern Chinese styles with an emphasis on hung gar. The women use that, and other systems. Lau isn't too impressive, but does a perfect hung gar form. Hwang Jang Lee, as usual, dominates everyone with his claws and kicks, only to lose in the end by a trick.
I'll say it one more time: Lau Kar Leung is the best thing about Shaw Brothers movies, and he is a genuine master of various southern Chinese styles. In any film where he has a major role, like this one, you are not only entertained, you learn something about the practical applications of his arts. This movie is a very modern HK film in its slickness. The storyline builds gradually, but it's worth the wait. Chin Kar Lok doesn't do much. Of course, watch for the old master. Also, a kicking specialist villain who does everything Ken Lo later does in "Drunken Master 2", and perhaps better.
This film has some long dead spots, a worthless cameo by Simon Yuen Siu Teen (the old drunk/hermit from the Jackie movies) in which he is clearly not doing the stuntwork.
However, the two protagonists put on an impressive demonstration of Buddhist/Lohan Fist and Palm in their long fight scenes. The finale is worth the rest of the film (one of those classic battles in which the names of the moves are called out with subtitles). The monk is especially skilled.
I thought it was funny, but some might not think so (basically, Sammo's take is that gays are sex-crazed fruitcakes). Beyond that, Sammo's kickboxing is impressive as usual. The pacing is classic. Lot of setup, big finale at the end.
Wei Pak had a cameo in "Magnificent Butcher" and small bits in other Golden Harvest pics. The reason he never became a star is evident here. Wei attempts to be Fu Sheng, but his "cocky young fighter" act is tiresome. The action is also too scarce. His kung fu (typical southern-system/mostly hands) is okay but not great. Finale with weapons is most interesting part.
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