Legend Of A Fighter (HK 1980)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/18/99
Director: Yuen Woo Ping
Cast: Leung Ka-Yan, Yasuaki Kurata, Philip Ko, Yuen Yat Chor

A classic kung fu masterpiece from Yuen Woo Ping and pals. Philip Ko is a master of kung fu, but he refuses to teach his son (Yuen Yat Chor) because he is so weak. One day, a Japanese teacher (Yasuaki Kurata) comes to town to give Yuen scholarly instruction, and secretly teaches him kung fu on the side (while stealing the family's kung fu secrets for himself). Twelve years pass and Yuen's character grows up into Leung Ka-Yan, whose superb kung fu expertise finally wins his father's respect. Unfortunately, as kung fu movies go, a case of "master, he insulted our school!" syndrome quickly gets out of hand which culminates in a reluctant duel to the death showdown between Leung and his former teacher (Kurata). Stories like this can't have happy endings.

As you would expect from the Yuen Clan, the martial arts choreography is superb and all of the players give amazing physical performances. Philip Ko gives a very strong performance, re-elevating my respect for him after seeing so many of his downright dreadful Filipino productions. Yasuaki Kurata is amazing to watch, and Leung Ka-Yan's elegant balletic grace is fascinating. I only wish that Yuen Yat Chor had a bigger part, since he didn't get to show off his own considerable kung fu prowess enough.