Amazing Kung Fu Flick – 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER
8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER might be the greatest Kung Fu film ever made.
8 Diagram Pole Fighter a.k.a. Invincible Pole Fighter (1984) is a Kung Fu melodrama which deserves wider recognition as a masterpiece of the genre and one of the most emotionally charged films to come out of the Shaw Brothers studio. Even within Lau Kar Leung’s magnificent body of work (which includes 36 Chambers of Shaolin, Dirty Ho, Heroes of the East, and Legendary Weapons of China) it stands out, in large part due to the tragic death of star Alexander Fu Sheng, who plays one of two brothers from the Yang Clan to survive a massacre orchestrated by the legendary traitor Pai Mei. After Fu Sheng’s death shut down production, LKL returned to finish the film, focusing the narrative on the other Yang brother (played by Gordon Liu), who lays down his spear and becomes a monk, only to later leave the temple in pursuit of revenge. The movie opens with a stagey over-the-top massacre, and while it no doubt resonated with audience members at the time, it might turn off viewers approaching this film cold. But if you’re patient, what follows is one of the great revenge movies of any genre. LKL again proves himself to be the consummate master, and his attention to detail and inventive shot construction leaves you breathless. The imagery is stupendous, the fight choreography insane- with not only the greatest one on-one-pole fight scene in history – between Liu and the Abbot, played by Phillip Ko – but also an incredibly inventive three-versus-a-horde-of-Mongols climax which takes place on a pyramid constructed of coffins, and features a creative way of disarming one’s enemy.