Sunday 9 March 2008

Shaolin Master and the Kid (1981)

This film starts so quickly and with such fast paced editing that I thought it was a trailer. There's no speech, no attempt to explain who anyone is or what they're doing. There's just fast editing and a kung fu fight in near darkness that ends with a man with a memorable facial tattoo being executed. I watched three times before working out that Nan Kung Sow captured the man and on returning home after the execution finds his family massacred and his sister kidnapped.

The only survivor is his young nephew, who has hidden in a well and who he attempts to leave with a friend before resigning his post and heading out on his quest for vengeance. As this is a very obvious copy of the Lone Wolf and Cub series, that doesn't work out to well so the kid follows on and the two make their quest together, merely with a trolley pulled behind him instead of a baby cart pushed in front.

There are villains everywhere of course, more than eager to take Nan Kung Sow's head, and there are some memorable ones here. One is set up with red facial hair: eyebrows and long party wig to match. Another pair wear blackface and whiteface makeup respectively. There's a nasty one done up like Zorro with wide brim hat. Possibly the most interesting is the one who's really a good guy but who needs the money so takes on the task anyway.

There's a bunch of wirework and fast editing to simulate fast attacks with triple fire crossbows, but this is 1981 so you can imagine how well that went. The inclusion of an eagle attack that turns into a freshly plucked chicken adds insult to injury, but fortunately the kung fu itself is light years ahead of things like that. All in all, this is a decent and fun kung fu movie but nothing to knock your socks off.

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