Another old skool Taiwan Kung Fu movie from the 80’s is upon us.
On the surface the premise seems simple, a Kung Fu master by the name of Sang Kuan Chun is celebrating his title as champion across the land, but is also an older masterwho plans to retire. But a letter is found during the ceremony.
The letter accuses Sang Kuan Chun of taking the honor but not proving his championship status, so naturally Sang Kuan heads out to solidify his reputation and then retire. To do this he must face 7 grandmasters, champions of their respective styles to do this.
But on his way the story seems to focus on another character, a young man desperate to learn Sang Kuan style but is refused immediately once he makes his request. He persists, doing anything and everything he can to convince the master while he effortlessly blows through his opponents. Eventually Sang accepts and this man becomes his star pupil, over taking the 3 students who have studied before him.
But naturally things get complicated, this young man’s past catches up as we learn he wants to avenge his father’s death, and that there are a handful of secret moves to San Kuan Chun’s style that originate from Pai Mei. The writings to these movements were stolen some years ago. All of these paths cross and we’re left with the usual – an epic fight finale!
In all honesty, this is another fairly standard kung fu film when you consider the era it was made in. There’s always a master and a student, and the mysterious villain that isn’t revealed until the end – also very typical. Even the style of the fighting is pretty typical.
Whilst I do mention it’s ‘typical’ nature, it’s also of very high quality! The physical performances are high energy and performed exceptionally well showing off a level of expertise in choreography and performance. The fitness of these older kung fu actors has always astounded me, despite the fact they relied on wires a decent amount.
There are plenty of fights, showcasing many different arts and weapons – with each fright having it’s own unique touch.
The story of the student is what gets me though – Lee Ye Min. Lee Ye Min has the ‘never give up’ attitude. Despite being poorly treated and told to leave Sang Kuan Chun alone constantly, he stays persistent, helping out wherever he can. Watching him go from punching bag to ultimate fighter was what made this movie interesting – although it’s nothing new.
Overall it’s not a bad movie and definitely one of the better classics. The story easy to follow and entertaining with some good action which is among the best of it’s era. Check it out if you love the old kung fu movies!
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
The 7 Grand Masters
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
7 Grandmasters [DVD]