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佛掌羅漢拳 (1980)
The Buddhist Fist


Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/18/2006
Summary: Removed his veins? How ghastly!

Generally well done fights alternate with generally dumb comedy bits throughout most of “The Buddhist Fist” but the laughs end at about the one hour mark. There is one very exciting battle between Ah Hsiang (Yuen Shun-Yi) and Mr. Chen (Lee Hoi-Sang). Ah Hsiang had a staff—actually a series of staves—while Chen was armed with that odd weapon that only shows up in Hong Kong movies. It looks like a huge Bowie knife with its handle and hilt removed with the blade placed on the end of a long pole. This fight was choreographed perfectly with Ah always able to grab the next bamboo pole when Chen chops through the one he is holding.

The one extremely grotesque scene was between Ah and his godfather. The godfather had been kidnapped and tortured—not only had his tongue been cut out to keep him from revealing who the bad guy really was but, according to earlier dialog, all the veins had been removed from his arms and legs—now that is a really creative infliction of pain.

Some of the comic figures, including the sleeping monk guarding the jade Buddha and the frustrated chess player—who appeared smiling in a tree, much like the Cheshire Cat—decently written. They were played very broadly and with lots of gusto. Some of them may be as familiar to Chinese audiences as were the stock characters in commedia dell’ arte in Italy or the fools and clowns in Shakespeare’s England. The artistry was in using extremely familiar comedians in ways that might not occur to the audience but still keeping them in character so that they fulfilled their roles as devices in the drama. The guard who said he was too sleepy and lazy to fight before beating a much younger and fitter opponent was one of these characters. The cheating chess player looked overweight and out of shape but dispatched a trained killer, the fortune teller, who had gotten the best of Ah Hsaing.

“The Buddhist Fist” doesn’t have much of a plot—there is only one character who could be the ultimate bad guy and it is clear who it is before the movie is half over. In case anyone missed the obvious, he has several close-ups looking concerned or guilty when the various crimes (kidnapping, rape, murder) are discussed.

The DVD we watched was cropped and dubbed but an anamorphic print with pristine subtitles wouldn’t have made the movie itself any better.


Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 07/27/2005
Summary: Too sloppy to recommend...

Yuen Wo Ping's The Buddhist Fist follows the lives of two boys that grow up under the tutelage of a Buddhist master. Their lives take them in different directions, with Shang (Yuen Shun Yee) becoming a barber and Si-ming (Tsui Siu Ming) taking to the life of a monk. Si-ming grows unhappy with his life, and a moment of indiscretion leads to him being blackmailed by a shady businessman. Si-ming is forced to become his accomplice in his scheme to steal a precious jade Buddha, as well as eliminate those who may be on to the racket. Unfortunately, one of those to be eliminated includes Shang s grandfather, leading Shang to become involved in the mystery and down the road of revenge.

The Buddhist Fist is not a terrible movie, but it simply doesn't have enough redeemable features to make it one to recommend. Although the fight choreography was done by the Yuen clan, and is admittedly good, it can't make up for poor acting and a sloppy plot that involves too many twists and turns to be effective. The most enjoyable scenes in the film are when Si-ming and Shang battle for the final time, with Si-ming using some great styles, including shades of Drunken Boxing and the exotic Buddhist Fist. Both men are accomplished martial artists and their true abilities shine with the crisp choreography and inventive set pieces. Being one of Yuen Wo Ping's earlier films, it seems as though he hasn't nailed down his directing style, but his fight choreography mastery is evident.

5/10

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 01/12/2002

A terrible effort from Yuen Wo Ping that suffers from an insufficient, seriously flawed storyline. I was watching the video for 30 miuntes and didn't know a thing. Yes, I got the poor English dubbed version (I don't know why I bothered) and it was impossible for me to understand half of what they are saying in the movie. Most old school kung fu movies lack a well planned plot, and this is no exception. One of the most boring movies I've ever seen in my life

[2/10]


Reviewed by: Ryoga
Date: 12/25/2001

Yuen Shun I as a good guy! Now that is something you don't see everyday. Two boys grow up together learning kung fu and the end is a suprise so I won't give it away.


Reviewed by: SBates
Date: 03/01/2001
Summary: Skeleton Claws Style?????

Although this film was made in 1980, it has the wacked-out sensibility of a 90's kung fu comedy. The plot is very similar to 1995's TaiChi master, as two kids learn kung fu together but go separate ways after leaving the temple. The fights are all elaborately done, and there are some wacky styles such as 'Skeleton Claw'. A post-modern kung-fu classic.


Reviewed by: bubbakin
Date: 07/09/2000
Summary: Another Yuen Wo-ping comedy-action gem

Yuen Wo-ping fans should definately check this one out. It doesn't have any famous actors in it, but it has a lot of faces you may recognize from other martial-arts films from the era. The lead was the killer from 'Dreadnought', doing a complete 180 degree turn here as a very likable hero. There are several great fights featuring many different actors, and a terrificly witty sense of humor. The pacing is also a lot better than what most martial-arts films can claim to have. Definately one to seek out.