Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Legendary Weapons of China

The Yi Ho Society is a very cult like religious group who wants to drive out the foreign devils and their guns, but instead of wasting money buying their own guns, they decide to train themselves and use of their Magic Kung Fu to become invincible. This means to withstand blade and bullet. As the film begins we see that under the guidance of the groups main instructor Ti Tan (Gorgon Liu) they have mastered the ability to withstand the blade. So next they line up four “volunteers” to take the impact of four rifles. The gunmen shoot and the men take the bullet. Unfortunately they quickly learn that they are not invincible and they drop dead. Unhappy with the results, Ti Tan decides to just keep trying. The men are absolutely devoted to their cause, and prove so to the master (Jue Tit-Woh) that they rip out their eyeballs, and other “parts” on command. That’s dedication.

Among this group there was one rational thinker, Lei Gung (Lau Kar-Leung) who becomes fed up with having to sacrifice his students, so he disbands his clan and escapes into hiding. The Yi Ho Society see’s him as a traitor to their, and decides to send a group of individual assassins, including Ti Tan, to find and eliminate Lei Gung as well as anyone else who has been trained in the 18 Legendary Weapons. Lei Gung has taken refuge in a small village under the name Mr. Yu, where he is working as a wood cutter. Everything is working nicely for him until he begins running into some new faces in town.

Revenge stories are far from uncommon among Kung Fu films of the 70's and 80's. But Legendary Weapons of China does have a fairly fresh theme. Though it could be considered a tale of revenge, its more a story about someone sticking by his beliefs. On the other hand you could say the Yi Ho are looking to avenge for Lei Gungs subordination. So there is some revenge in there. But nobody killed anybodies master this time.

The film boosts some amazing fights, especially when we get to see the 18 weapons in use(whenever a new weapon is used the name of the weapon is displayed on the screen as though we were watching a demonstration, which in some ways we are.) There is one fight which happens in a small attic of Gordons Liu’s room at a village inn, where two of our assassins(unaware of each other)are trying to kill one another while disguising there noises as a cat chasing a mouse. As Gordon Liu suspiciously follows the noises above him ready to strike with his spear.

When the films is not astounding us with its incredible action sequences, its busting our guts with laughter! Yes LWOC can be a damn funny film. One of our assassins(Lau Kar-wing) also happens to be a hypnotist who uses voodoo dolls to mimic people moves. At one point he hires a local con-artist(played brilliantly by Alexander Fu) to pretend to be Lei Gung and cause a public scene in order to hopefully draw the real Lei Gung out of hiding. To do this he must pretend to be an invincible fighter, as his friends, also pretending, try to kill him in public. This results in some pretty hilarious, and clever, moments of crowd deception. After this when they meet up at local toilet, our hypnotist must use his new con-man friend as a pawn to fight off one of the assassins who believe that he is Lei Gung. Much hilarity ensues.

Lau Kar-wing, who is the real life brother of the films director and star Lau Kar-Leung (but you knew that already right?) Is indeed in the film, and yes they fight. Using all 18 of the legendary weapons and some unarmed combat the fight between these two brothers is nothing short of pure brilliance.

Over all Legendary Weapons of China is a true classic that should be viewed by any fan or martial arts cinema! It has great action, some great humor, and a pretty decent story to boot.


A Film by Lau Kar-Leung

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