This is one of those old skool 80’s Kung Fu films that just didn’t seem to make a name for itself, despite that fact it’s actually not too bad!
The Dragon’s Snake Fist is a South Korean Kung Fu film from 1981 which stars one of the Bruce Lee look-a-likes from Game of Death – Dragon Lee, as he shows off his onscreen charisma and fighting abilities.
The film starts off with 2 kung fu masters duelling on a beach to settle an age old rivalry. This fight doesn’t last long and one of the masters has his leg crippled and is unable to fight, so he faces exile. But as we know, revenge can cook up over a generation so many years later we see this defeated Kung Fu master plotting his revenge, with his son by his side ready to slaughter anyone in his way.
So after we hear a little Bruce Lee music, with a tune from Game of death and the ever-so-recognizable Enter the Dragon theme, the movie starts and people start getting killed and the revenge plan being carried out.
Dragon’s (no surprise that Dragon is played by Dragon Lee) master is murdered dishonorably and he is forced to use his incredible kung fu skills to stop them. I think you guess what happens after this – epic Kung fu fight finale!
It’s simple, it’s straight forward and easy to follow.
A lot of kung fu films use a lot of twists and turns and complexity to make the stories interesting, but these films can easily confuse their audiences in English speaking countries and some names and events are hard to follow. This film offers a basic structure to house some cool kung fu fights and relies heavily on the actor’s performance and charisma to break things up.
Obviously our villain and crippled Kung Fu master is very bitter and hobbles around quite noticeably with the most beautiful and perfect grey hair any man has ever had – in perfect mullet fashion whilst his son is a little pipsqueak looking guy seeking to destroy any threats to his family’s kung fu school. The two stand out and are quick to shut down the people around them.
The above example is an exact opposite of Dragon Lee’s Kugn Fu family, focusing on doing what is right and only fighting when necessary. This contrast offers a clear dividing line between both sides, but above and beyond the good / evil dividing line is our lead character Dragon.
Dragon Lee steps on screen an immediately stands apart from the rest of the cast.
Everything about Dragon Lee’s look is imposing on screen – he is built and far more solid then most kung fu film actors and has a very stern and masculine look. He reminds me of a shorter and more solid version of Jason Scott Lee, down to the facial expressions. But the fact that this guy doubled for Bruce Lee after his death, and Jason Scott Lee played Bruce in Dragon the Bruce Lee story, helps a few more similarities overlap as Dragon Lee uses a lot of Bruce’s body language on screen (including the ol’ thumbing of the nose).
The massive mop of black hair also helps 🙂
Overall the cast would have been very flat and I feel that Dragon Lee’s presence elevated the film and kept me interested. I wanted to see this guy in action as he had the look, the poise and seemed to carry that ‘undefeatable’ characteristic in every aspect of his performance. Before a single punch or kick is thrown you know this guy is the unbeatable hero of the film.
But the question remains, is the film any good?
Honestly it’s a decent martial arts classic, especially if you’re a fan of 70’s and 80’s kung fu films.
Is it easy to follow? Check.
Does it have plenty of action? Check.
Is the action quality? Well…
… it’s not bad. the energy is high paced and intense but it really doesn’t offer anything outstanding in comparison to other films of the era. It does offer high quality performances though and they are definitely entertaining. The finale is very well done and they obviously put a butt-load of effort into making this film as action packed as they could. It shows.
Overall the film is a classic and is just an enjoyable movie to watch if you want to switch off and take in some cool, old skool kung fu action.
It won’t have you as emmersed as one of the greats of the industry, but it’s definitely got a lot of qualities about it I enjoyed. If you get the chance I’d check this film out to relax and enjoy an old film with some nice performances.
Grab a copy from Terracotta’s (the distributor’s) website here!