|3 Evil Masters (1980)|
|Starring:||Kuan Tai Chen, Tak Yuen and Wang Lung Wei|
|The Plot: Jin Tien-yun (Chen Kuan Tai) is a top martial artist who has grown sick and tired of an evil group of tyrants known as The Three Evils. When Jin takes on this group, he is stabbed by the keeper of the inn that this fight is taking place at. Although he is injured, he manages to escape and finds his way to a local martial arts school where he runs into Gao Jian (Tak Yuen). Gao is bullied by all of his classmates and even his teacher, to enough degree. They frame him for things that he didn’t do and more often than not poor Gao is stuck with ridiculous punishments. When Jin shows up on Gao’s doorstep, he is unsure what to make of the situation. He takes in the poor man and allows him to get better, but he soon discovers how powerful Jin is within the martial world. Jin had previously fought Gao’s master and left him with broken ribs, and being that Gao’s teacher would rather punish the young man than actually teach him anything, he soon starts to learn more Kung Fu from Jin. As Gao becomes a powerful martial artist himself, the looming threat of the Three Evil Masters seems all the more present. Will they find Jin Tien-Yun and if they do what will become of young Goa Jian as he has been so helpful to Jin? These two will have to combine forces and help destroy the Evils before they manage to cause more harm!|
Tak Yuen, who plays the young Gao who is taken under the wing of Chen Kuan Tai, gets to play off much of this Kung Fu comedy. While he doesn’t fall into crossing his eyes or making silly faces, as if he were attempting to entertain a child, he actually does fall into another hackneyed comedic staple: in one notable scene he dresses up in drag in order to fool one of the 3 Evil Masters. While it seems as if I’m probably about to go off on a further tangent about how terrible Hong Kong martial arts comedy tends to be, I will commend this sequence because it is surprisingly one of the funnier moments of the film. 3 Evil Masters is one of the few Shaw Bros. titles to actually feature female nudity, certainly one of the few that I have seen, and the moment in question comes as the second Evil has a line of women removing their tops for a chance at a prize. Tak Yuen’s character steps to the front of the line and begins to disrobe and show off his incredibly flat chest while acting like a meek and timid young girl. Watching him pinch his nipples while making goo-goo eyes is quite possibly the funniest thing I have seen in a Kung Fu film produced by the Shaw Bros.!
The fight choreography, by Hsia Hsu, is actually very well done and features some varied styles. Hsu never really did a tremendous amount of work as a choreographer, certainly not that I can find, with his best known behind-the-scenes credit coming as a stunt coordinator on the original Drunken Master. When you have Chen Kuan Tai and Wang Lung Wei leading your film however, I suppose it isn’t that hard to make a really well choreographed martial arts film! The choreography and the central gimmick, which pits our two leading men against the “Three Evils Brigade”, are really make the movie the memorable event that it is. The comedy can be hit and miss, with good performances by almost all involved. If there is any one issue the film has, it comes from it not being an overwhelming experience and the few really solid areas that it excels in aren’t so convincing that the audience will be left blown away.