Magnificent Butcher (HK 1979)

Rating: ****
Director: Yuen Woo Ping
Cast: Samo Hung, Yuen Biao, Wei Pai, Lam Ching Ying, Kwan Tak Hing

Holy crap! This is one of the most fantastic kung fu films I've ever seen - a true classic masterpiece of dizzying martial arts mastery. Samo Hung plays Butcher Wing, a hot-headed student of Wong Fei Hung (played by the venerable Kwan Tak Hing). His brother comes to town looking for him, but a rascal from a rival school cheats him and steals his wife. An old drunkard also comes to town, and after the standard sit-com silliness of the kung fu comedy genre, all of the good guys team up to fight all of the bad guys in an ever-escalating and increasingly brutal kung fu showdown. Firmly in the mold of Jackie Chan's "Drunken Master" (1978), except that it's much, much better in tone, story-telling, and execution. A brilliant piece of filmmaking, this is one of Yuen Woo Ping's best films, and possibly Samo Hung's finest kung fu performance ever. He is simply AMAZING, and his execution is fast, hard hitting, and very precise. Kwan Tak Hing shows up briefly as Master Wong Fei Hung in the beginning of the film and has a fascinating kung fu calligraphy battle with the main villain, which sets up the rivalry between the two schools. It's amazing to see a guy in his sixties doing fingertip push-ups and acrobatics! Yuen Biao and Wei Pai are also students of Wong Fei Hung and have a couple of fantastic fights towards the end of the film. I've seen the guy who plays the "drunken master" in several other films, but I've never seen him fight like he does in this one - he's incredible. In fact, everyone in this film gives an astonishing physical performance. I'm speechless, really. If you like kung fu, do yourself a favor and see this movie. Now.