This movie is a bit different to other Shaw Brothers films I’ve seen (I haven’t seen hell of a lot yet) but I really enjoyed it.
The movie centres around Kung Fu groups during the Qing Dynasty and in particular the thoughts of man named Lei Kung. An order to kill Lei Kung has been released after he expressed his belief that the martial arts will never be able to withstand a shotgun blast.
This leads to many martial artists being sent out to find Lei Kung. Seen as a traitor, these top Kung Fu fighters want him killed, so he makes himself very hard to find and assumes a new identity.
One martial artist and Shaolin Monk in particular, Ti Tan, trains his students to repel sword and weapon attack in an ‘iron shirt-ish’ style. Ti Tan is forever experimenting with shotguns on his students to develop their ability to repel a shotgun blast. All of these attempts end with the students being killed – a practice that has lead Ti Tan’s niece Fan Shao Ching to question his methods. Ti Tan then ventures out to find and kill Lei Kung while Fan Shao Ching (his niece), disguised as a man, heads out to warn him.
When a local man named Qu is found resembling Lei Kung, a few of these martial artists investigate him to see if he is who they are after. Once Fan Shao Ching discovers that he is Lei Kung she warns him of the situation. When Lei Kung’s brother Lei Ying arrives, honor bound to kill, he is given a chance to strengthen himself to better perform is Kung fu (to it’s former standard). Lei Ying then leaves but vows to return.
Lei Kung then begins training again to fight off his attackers, leading up to a final showdown between himself and his brother Lei Ying.
Holding Back progress.
This movie is a perfect example of how tradition and belief can hold back progress. With such ridiculous arts being practiced with overly ambitious goals.
There comes a time to use logic and reason to question belief and tradition in order to move forward!
With many attitudes resisting change in history, and even going as far as prosecuting someone for thinking different, this movie really does make a strong statement against the stupidity of stubbornness that seems to possess certain people.
With Lei Kung following the path of reason and defying these beliefs, not just one but many societies want him dead! Just as the Earth was known to be flat before it was proven round, this movie demonstrates a sharp contrast between mainstream belief, and reason/logic dictated thought.
I also see a similar thought present with Bruce Lee’s quote of ‘the man is more important than any established style or system’. With Ti Tan constantly killing his students to find a way to repel bullets and shotgun blasts, he is basically killing people to serve his ridiculous ambition to make his Kung Fu method all powerful. Choosing Kung fu over the well being of the people around him, and especially his own level of reasoning.
The Legendary Weapons
With such a title, I honestly think this movie represents so much more than just a heap of weapon work, but it’s still a strong theme.
The movie starts off with an exciting introduction of weapon work and choreography by some ofthe key actors – performed brilliantly. Throughout the movie some weapons are used in the fight sequences, but the real display is at the end of the film.
When Lei Kung fights his brother Lei Ying during the finale, an extremely diverse range of weapons are used. Each fighter wields the each weapon in a way that really demonstrates good and technical Kung Fu – these guys are real martial artists.
The battle is exciting and the work is technical, which is rare to find in a movie.
The Martial Arts and fight Scenes
As mentioned above, there is a big theme of weapon work in this film, as with a big chunk of Shaw Brothers’ movies (at least the ones I’ve seen so far). But one thing which was different for me in this film was the magical fighting arts.
This movie has elements of voodoo and magic in its fighting which I think fit in well with the movie – but I’m not a huge fan of it (more a guy for realism). In saying that, the magic is used in such a way that it doesn’t take away from the fight scenes – it is used merely to control another person and not simply shoot out a fireball or something else ridiculous.
All of the actors seem well versed in some form of Kung Fu, showing great technical knowledge. It all adds to the authentic feel of some of the fights, that are visually stunning to watch. The only thing that dates the fights of these films are the sound effects and music that don’t feed the rush behind the fights as much as many newer movies – but this is only a minor thing. The action speaks for itself!
Would I recommend it?
I nearly always do! If you like to see technical moves and fights this movie is pretty good and I’d recommend it. It’s a must for Shaw brothers fans. The only people I don’t recommend it to are movie fans who love adrenaline and emotionally charged fights – you wont get this here. However ,if you do watch it you may find it enjoyable so give it a go!
Find it on DVD
Unfortunately I can only find a copy available in Region 1 on DVD (Us & Canada)! Thank god for Region Free players!