lightning fists of shaolinThis is a nifty little Shaw Brothers film from 1984.

The story revolves around a Kung Fu school run by Lung Ti, and the town they live in.  Things start to develop when Lung Ti’s students lose a Liondance competition and following that a large fight with an opposing Kung Fu school.

The opposing school open up an Opium business in town, and people begin to flock to it looking for their high.  Lung Ti himself even begins to smoke a little and it begins to weaken his skills, as pointed out by his master.

But some of the friends and fellow students start to get addicted, and a man named Wang Ma starts spending all of his money on Opium.  When his wife and child ask for help from one of the members of the kung fu school they try to take Wang Ma away from the Opium, but his addiciton is too strong.  Before long his wife kills herself and his child, causing Wang Ma to commit suicide himself.

Enraged by the death of Wang Ma, one of Lung Ti’s students storms over to the Opium business and sets the place on fire.  That’s when the opposing school comes out to and fights Lung Ti’s student and eventually kills him.  Before his death, he tells tells Lung Ti to give up the Opium.

Lung Ti fights one of the opposing kung fu fighters and loses, despite his reputation as an excellent fighter.  Lung Ti then goes back to training but faces the hard task of overcoming his addiction to Opium, before regaining his strength and fighting once again.

smoking opium

A Kung Fu Master with a Drug Addiction?

That’s not your typcial Kung Fu movie character, but it made for something a bit different and interesting.

Lung Ti is known for his abilities and is already a Kung Fu master, but his lack of strength and endurance show a small side effect of the drugs.  The most interesting part of this addiction is the difficulty Lung Ti has in kicking the opium, and some of the symptoms he shows when detoxing from it. It’s funny, instead of finding a new mystical master, he stops taking drugs and becomes a winner!

The tragic events and deaths leading up to it all though really get you on the side of Lung Ti’s school, and it (and a few other events) does a terrific job of setting up tension between both groups aswell as identifying who the hero and villains are.  It’s simple and straight forward.

Ultimately it’s a fairly dramatic story told simply but also adds a more autentic feel to the plot, as opposed to a standard device to fit some action into.Lung Ti

Martial Arts and Action

The action was pretty nice, and what you’d expect from a Shaw Brothers Production.

While there is a little hand to hand combat, most of the action is reliant on spears and swords.  I’ve always found Shaw Brothers productions to have really entertaining weapon work, so this was no surprise.  The fights are fast and well choreographed, and spread nicely throughout the movie.  So you don’t get too bored.

Ultimately it’s what I expected, decent fights that match those of the era.

The Verdict?

Not bad, a Kung Fu Classic.  Check it out if you like the Shaw Brothers style of movies!

On Blu Ray –

Region A (US & Canada)
Opium and the Kung Fu Master [Blu-ray]

On DVD –

Region 1 (US & Canada)
Opium The Kung-Fu Master

Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)

Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)

More info on Movie Regions here.

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