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Clever fights and a 6-member cast of kung fu greats
Brian Camp | Bronx, NY | 08/04/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF CHINA (1982, aka LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF KUNG FU, the actual onscreen title) is another kung fu masterwork from director Liu Chia Liang (aka Lau Kar Leung), best known for MASTER KILLER, DIRTY HO, and DRUNKEN MASTER II. This is an unusual variation on the genre in that it features several fights involving people in hiding and in close quarters, including a bout between two people in a crawlspace above an inn where they have been separately spying on a third. The plot involves a search by four competing members of a secret martial arts society to locate and assassinate Lei Kung, a kung fu master who had abandoned their sect and gone into hiding. Converging on the town where the master is residing, they expect to draw him out by provoking him to show off his kung fu, but he is too clever for them. It takes a while, but two of the four become allies of Lei Kung, who eventually comes out of hiding and fights the other two, including a final battle with the sect's current head, Master Ti, involving the 18 weapons of the title. All the fights are imaginatively staged, most notably one in which Master Ti uses his hypnotic powers and a voodoo-type doll to manipulate an impersonator of Lei Kung (played by the great Alexander Fu Sheng) to fight off a bunch of attackers. The standout cast is headed by director Liang himself, in the role of Lei Kung, while his own brother, Liu Chia Yung (aka Lau Kar Wing), plays Master Ti. The two fight each other in the final contest of legendary weapons. One of the four sect members is played by Kara Hui Ying Hung, a beautiful fighting femme employed frequently by director Liang. Gordon Liu (MASTER KILLER) plays a Shaolin monk seeking out Lei Kung and has one of the final battles with him. The cast is rounded out by Liang regular Hsiao Hou as another sect assassin who becomes an ally and a funny performance by Fu Sheng in a smaller part. Director Liang frequently sought to infuse his films with authentic styles of kung fu; he was particularly enamored of stick and pole fighting and features some elaborate weapons in the final battle, including a three-section staff. While the available DVD of this title is not the highest quality--for one thing, it's not letter-boxed--it remains the best current way to see this expert kung fu film."
Image did it again
Michael W. Jaworski | Fairfield, NJ USA | 03/19/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I first saw this awesome movie on Drive-In Movie (channel 5) back in the day I liked it. However, it didn't have those familiar Australian voices, it had these new voices on the dubbing. Many Shaw Brother flicks that were made after 1980 had these different U.K. voices, and they sucked big time. It actually affected the acting negatively. Now, Image Entertainment changed all that. It's like a whole new film.
Along with "Master Killer" this is one of Liu Chia-Liang's (Lau Kar-Leung) best. This one also stars his half-brother Gordon Liu, but Liang (along with his other brother, Liu Chia-Yung a.k.a. Lau Kar-Wing) take on the lead roles. Co-starring are Chu Tieh Wu (the villain from "Jade Claw"), Hsiao Hou, Kara Hui Ying-Hung (both were Liang's students) and the late Fu Sheng. Widescreen, beautiful, crisp picture. Awesome original Chinese track (even includes the English dub), and a bunch of trailers showing the rest of the growing catalogue of Image acquisitions.
I'm not really going to go into the plot because if you're reading this, all you need to know is it's from Shaw Brothers. It takes place during the Boxer Rebellion, and this movie even reveals the hoax of witchcraft, magic and being bullet-proof toward the end. Absolutely amazing martial arts (choreography by the Liu brothers, Hsiao Hou & Ching Chu), especially the fifteen minute end fight, which includes everything from hand-to-hand to the 18 weapons. It also includes the name of the weapon appearing on the screen when one of the Liu brothers use it. Yeah, I know fu, too. I hope this is a sign of things to come from Image Entertainment."
One of Lau Kar Leung's best movies
morgoth | omaha, NE | 01/10/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"While there are at least 5 or 6 Lau films I would put above this, Legendary Weapons is still a wonderful kung fu film. Let's see, we have Lau Kar Leung himself in a starring role, Lau Kar Wing in a spectacular fight with many different weapons, Kara Kui, Hsiou Hou, and Gordon Liu in a great fighting role. The director manages to live up to the title of the movie and manages to top what you may be thinking of it going in. While it is not one of the most exciting movies ever, the last 30 minutes will absolutely blow you away.
It is also odd seeing Hsiou Hou from Lau's 'Mad Monkey Kung Fu' and 'Cat Vs. Rat' in a serious role. He gets in a couple of moments of comedy but don't expect the norm with him on this one. It is a joy seeing all of Lau's great stars that he brought up in this. Even Fu Sheng has an extended cameo and most fans of his will enjoy seeing him on screen but others will not like his part in the movie.
This release from Image Entertainment is very good. Crystal clear picture quality and great 5.1 and 2 channel sound in the Mandarin dialogue. Many will be very pleased to see an English track on here. All 3 tracks have great sound quality. Unfortunately this release does not have any special features except for trailers. It does not even have the liner notes that the previous Image releases have had. No big deal to me though since I had never seen this wonderful movie. Overall this is an outstanding release. Very nice to see a couple of American DVD companies stepping up to the plate and giving American kung fu movie fans the releases they have been waiting for for a very long time."
Liu Chia Lian/Lau Kar Leung is so thorough....
abbotx | Silver Spring, MD United States | 04/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie IS a legitimate classic. Liu Chia Liang's skills are disgusting. I don't know why everybody is so disappointed in this movie. It may be lacking Gordon, but it's more of a showcase of Liu Chia Liang (who in my opinion is 10 times better, just watch his technique). The plot may get a little thin at times, but do you really watch kung fu movies for the plot? It's loosely based on the Boxer's (from China's Boxer Rebellion - refered to as Pugilists in the movie) and their belief in the use of magic w/ kungu. I own over 200 kung fu movies, and I rank this in my top ten (take that for whatever it's worth). If you're more into fast, stunt-type Jackie Chan stuff you might not like this too much.
If you did like this movie, try to find a flic called "My Young Auntie". I don't think it has been rereleased on DVD or video yet, but it's every bit as good. Take a trip to a Chinatown, a local kung fu movie spot, or E-Bay and try to find it."
A unique tale, set during China's Boxer Rebellion
Mantis Lake | Detroit, MI USA | 04/20/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Image's release of Celestial's remastering of this Shaw Brothers' classic should quench the thirst of those who waited for years for a decent version on DVD. This flick makes the top-10 list of a lot of old-school critics. In that capacity I think it's a little overrated, but if you like classic kung fu movies, it's a must-see.
It's now the 1900's and the world is changing. The Industrial Revolution has thwarted any last attempts the world has of living in harmony with nature. Misery loves company and China is full of potential labor and natural resources, so goons from all over the world are pestering them to join in the carnage. The country is divided. Groups of rebels are trying to preserve China's way of life, but meet with resistance from the preferred weapon of the westerner... the gun. Still believing that the right amount of kung fu training will overcome the rifle, the Spiritual Sect continues to sacrifice pupils in perfecting the art of deflection. Lei Kung (Lau Kar Leung, directing the film and the fights) tires of watching his brothers die needlessly. Eventually realizing that these changes are inevitable, he decides to leave the sect. Not content with letting him go peacefully, the sect's leader (Lau Kar Wing) dispatches 3 fighters (Gordon Liu, Kara Hui, and Hsiao Hou) to find him; though the only one who is aware of the other two, secretly sympathizes with Lei Kung.
This movie is very different and one of Lau Kar Leung's better directed films. There are a lot of cool, brief, ninja-like exchanges between the major players before the captivating extended finale involving the 18 members of the film's title. There is also a long comic sequence with Alexander Fu Sheng pretending to be Lei Kung in an attempt to draw out the old master. Though it's an odd mix, it is well done if you're patient enough between fights. I wasn't real big on the hypnotism kung fu, but it's brief and adds to the individual flavor of the movie.
The picture is as crisp as a new dollar-bill and will disappoint no one. Celestial has done an amazing job on all of the Shaw Bros. flicks, but some really stand out; this is one of them. Kara Hui don't hurt none neither. The language tracks include the original Mandarin and an English dub.
1982. aka: "18 Legendary Weapons of China", "Legendary Weapons of Kung Fu"