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Category — kung fu

Great Scenes – THE MASTER

Today we’re featuring the movie everyone’s talking about – The Master. Personally I don’t know why Paul Thomas Anderson would ever remake this 1980 Shaw Bros classic directed by Chin-Ku Lu, starring Chen Kuan Tai, and introducing Yuen Tak in his first starring role (he would go on to become one of Hong Kong’s top action choreographers). And watching the upcoming target=”_blank”>trailer, PT Anderson’s The Master seems a bit light on the kung-fu razzmatazz – guess he’s taking it in a different direction. Oh well – guess we’ll just have to wait and see when it comes out. Anyway, today’s great scene features Chen Kuai Tai as the Master, fighting off his nemeses (plural), the 3 Evil Masters (which is what the film is Also-Known-As), which of course prompts the student to avenge him. And though Joaquin Phoenix will no doubt prove himself a better actor than Mr. Tak, I gotta come out and say it – Philip Seymour Hoffman is no Wang Lung Wei.

In all seriousness, we are extremely stoked to see the other The Master as well! Hope it also has a groin-splitting scene in it!

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September 11, 2012   No Comments

Great Scenes – TREASURE HUNTERS

Lau Kar Wing‘s Treasure Hunters (aka Master of Disaster, 1981) is an interesting beast – directed by younger brother of Kung Fu Legend (and IOC fave) Lau Kar Leung (see here & here) and written by wacky Great Scenes veteran Wong Jing (here here and here), it’s a festival of fu that’s a family affair all the way round – just in time for the holidays! Wing – who would later become a frequent collaborator of Sammo Hung – wasn’t nearly as prolific or epic as his brother, content with being an actor and choreographer, but of his Shaw Brothers output as director this is by far the best, largely due to this scene – one of the great WTF fights ever! Featuring Yeung Jing Jing as a mute hit-woman, über-villain Wang Lung Wei and perpetual-monk Gordon Lau, it’s highlighted by the pairing of charismatic Fu Sheng (who would die tragically 2 years later) with real-life brother Cheung Chin Pang. You can tell they’re having a fantastic time, and it’s infectious – once you get past the very broad comedy and crazy musical cues. Happy Holidays![admin note: the poster on IMDB page erroneously features Moon Lee and Jackie Chan‘s face, and looks to be a poster for an altogether different movie!]

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December 22, 2011   No Comments

Baroque Kung Fu – FIVE DEADLY VENOMS

FIVE DEADLY VENOMS is a genre classic, but not for the reasons you think.

Part whodunnit, part horror film, with a pinch of Mexican wrestling thrown in for good measure, Chang Cheh‘s Five Deadly Venoms (1978) is a film that’s earned a reputation as a must-see for people interested in exploring Kung Fu cinema. The tale of a Kung Fu Master who dispatches his last student to discover which of his past pupils – Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard or Toad – is putting the clan’s special Poison skills to evil use (imagine that!), it’s a movie which features more sidelong glances, suspicious ducking down alleyways, and guessing games than it does actual martial arts. But despite the fact that it fails to wow in the action department, Five Deadly Venoms ultimately proves to be a thoroughly entertaining affair which grows on you with repeated viewings, thanks to director Chang Cheh’s knack for “borrowing” from other directors. Here he seems to be channeling Mario Bava, creating a palpable dread whose color scheme feels like the Kung Fu version of Planet of the Vampires – at once both colorful and grey – and whose violent passages feel sublimely campy and overwrought. What little kung-fu there is is first rate, the pedigree and skills of the cast – tough guy Lo Meng, strongman Lu Feng, nimble Chiang Sheng, superkicker Sun Chien, and all-around bad ass Philip Kwok – never in question. It’s just that there isn’t that much of it, by Shaw Brothers standards. While the earlier films of director Chang Cheh (The One Armed Swordsman trilogy, Shaolin Temple, Heroes Two) were loaded with innovative martial arts, by the late seventies – following the departure of choreographer Lau Kar Leung to begin a directing career of his own (36th Chamber of Shaolin, Dirty Ho, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter) – the action began to dwindle and become over-reliant on weird machismo, cartoonish violence, and fancy acrobatics. But despite this, there are incredible sets, crazy costumes with iconic masks, and ridiculous plot twists to keep you occupied, and when the five styles of venomous animals are on display it’s as if you’re watching a heady mix of 1960’s TV Batman by way of Kung Fu Panda. It might not be the best martial arts film in “godfather of Kung Fu fimmaking” Chang Cheh’s career – which spanned nearly a hundred films – but Five Deadly Venoms is nevertheless a one-of-a-kind cult classic any fan of filmdom should experience.

And hey lookee here- the movie available in its entirety!

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June 13, 2011   2 Comments

Great Scenes – CITY HUNTER

That particular brand of low-brow insanity that is the staple of Director Wong Jing‘s work returns to the Great Scenes section of IOC (for the previous scene look here) with this slice of kung-fu crossover from City Hunter (1993) that takes blatant and unnecessary commercial pandering to a new low (or is it high?). Here you get the added bonus of watching a cross-dressing Jackie Chan cosplay as not one but two of the Street Fighter arcade characters. Heaven is filled with moments like these.

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May 30, 2011   1 Comment

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