Now I stress the word ‘classic’. This movie has an awesome old fashioned kung fu flick feel about it – it was made back when the action was pretty decent, had great pace and rhythm but at the same time being totally ridiculous and overcooked. I love these movies!
Gordon Liu plays Hung Wen-Ting, a Shaolin Monk who, along side another, defeated Pai Mei – the evil white haired priest during the movie Executioners of Shaolin.
Well now Pai Mei’s brother Bak Mei is back for revenge, and kills off a large group of the Shaolin connected to Hung Wen-Ting. Now Wen-Ting is left with his brother’s pregnant wife Mei-Hsiao (Kara Hui) to find somewhere to hide and survive before planning his revenge.
Bak Mei however is extremely powerful and Wen -Ting must take is training not only to another level but in a completely different direction in order to exact his revenge and assure safety for himself and Mei-Hsiao.
These movies are delightfully crazy!
I find it funny that Gordon Liu’s character defeated Pai Mei at the beginning of the film, and that he later played Pei Mei in the Kill Bill movies so many years later!
Pei Mei and Bak Mei are such iconic characters – the white hair and long white beard and eye brows of a master who have mastered deadly techniques that can kill in a single strike leaves a cool image in your head.
Pai Mei had mastered the “five-point palm-exploding heart technique” in the previous film, while his brother has mastered “hundred pace palm” – a technique which, when delivered, kills the opponent after they have walked 100 paces – such a ridiculous but classic idea for a kung fu technique which would have only worked in these old films.
More so than that, Bak Mei can make himself as a light as paper, blowing away form the force of each strike making him almost impossible to hit. But even when a strike is to be landed on his groin, he can retract his genitals into his body, protecting them from harm – yeah, they went there!
What about Hung Wen-Ting?
He’s just a normal martial arts guy trying to defeat an other worldy kung fu master – how does he stand a chance?
We see Wen-Ting’s first attempt on Bak Mei epic fail in such a way that I’m surprised he even pursued the idea of fighting him again – if I tried as much stuff on this guy and he merely floated away, I think I’d be packing up my stuff and getting as far away as possible!
Instead he focuses on increasing his speed, realising that that’s not good enough and that he must then use Mei-Hsiao’s ‘womanly kung fu’ to move elegantly and not create a breeze Bak Mei can float away on. So he does this by first sewing and nursing a new born baby (apparently to lighten his touch) before learning this soft art.
He challenges Bak Mei and fails again.
He leaves after being hit with Bak Mei’s 100 pace palm. Having only walked less than 100 paces and being carried home, he is cured with acupuncture. He then learns about acupuncture and uses it to defeat Bak Mei before jumping up and down in the air for a complete second, when the movie abruptly ends in a ruthless fashion.
Sounds bad, but it’s hilarious and basically what I expected.
The Martial Arts
Very fast, one of the more viciously paced of the Shaw Brothers films while making use of very traditional looking strikes and rigid stances that you’d come to expect from these movies.
One thing this movie does have though is frequent, long lasting and intense fight fight scenes – especially for it’s time!
The movie starts off instantly with the fight between Wen Ting, his brother and Pai Mei. Form there the action keeps on coming and coming.
But ultimately what makes this movie is the classic character of Bak Mei and his awesome abilities, which after explaining above I’m sure you can appreciate.
If you like crazy old kung fu films that are on a different plane to reality then this is for you! A hilarious classic (that wasn’t meant to be funny) that any old skool fan should see and have a chuckle at while enjoying some fast action.
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
Fist of the White Lotus on DVD – the only one I can find!