Legendary Weapons Of Kung Fu (HK 1982)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 10/22/00
Alternate Title: Legendary Weapons Of China
Director: Liu Chia Liang (Lau Kar Leung)
Cast: Liu Chia Liang (Lau Kar Leung), Liu Chia Yung, Hsiao Hou, Liu Chia Hui (Gordon Liu), Alexander Fu Sheng, Wei Ying Hung

Cited by many critics as the greatest kung fu movie ever made, this was Liu Chia Liang's comeback film after his string of awful studio imposed kung fu comedies (including "Lady Is The Boss" (1980) and "My Young Auntie" (1981) ). While I'm not as quick to bestow that honor on this film, I will say that it is definitely one of the more thoughtful and intelligent kung fu films ever made. This film is actually about kung fu, and seriously addresses the issue of its effectiveness against Western firearms. Determined to develop a technique for resisting bullets through kung fu and magic, a martial arts school sacrifices countless students to further its cause. One of the head masters, Lei Kung (Liu Chia Liang), realizes the sad truth of the situation and shuts down his school in order to save his students. This brings down the wrath of the head branch, and several people are sent to kill Lei Kung for his betrayal and defection. These include the lovely Wei Ying Hung, Hsiao Hou, Gordon Liu, and Lei Kung's brother, played by Liu Chia Yung (Liu Chia Liang's real life brother). What follows is pretty much a non-stop martial arts tour de force, featuring nearly every known classical Chinese weapon. In addition to the exhausting martial arts combat is the inclusion of "magic" and ninja-like trickery, and although it's treated very seriously, it tends to spoil the tone of some of the fight scenes. All of the players are magnificent and the kung fu is superb, and although Alexander Fu Sheng plays his part mostly for laughs, he also turns in a fine physical performance. Arguably the crowning achievement in Liu Chia Liang's impressive career, but I personally prefer his earlier film, "Dirty Ho" (1979).