|Legendary Weapons of China (1982)|
|Writers:||Tai-Heng Li and Liu Chia-Liang|
|Starring:||Tiet Wo Chu, Fu Sheng, Liu Chia-Liang and Hou Hsiao|
|The Plot: In China there is a special form of martial arts simply referred to as pugilism, an art that focuses on strengthening the skin to become invulnerable to any weapon or attack: including firearms. Looking to fight the foreign invaders who are moving into China and have brought their firearms, one particular school of pugilism has tried incredibly hard to overcome the firearm but with little success. However, they do know of one man who is known to be able to block any and all attacks and he is Lei Kung (Liu Chia-Liang). Their group then sends out Ti Tan (Gordon Liu) to find the man, but unknown to him there are several others currently searching out Lei Kung. Who will find this hidden martial artist first, and who will he inevitably align himself with?|
As mentioned, Fu Sheng puts in one heck of a performance here. Although you could never acuse him of being subtle, he makes scenery chewing an art form as he bounces around the set as the loud mouthed con artist who can not fight but pretends to be a Kung Fu master. Although his role isn’t one of the primaries, he establishes himself well and becomes one of the most memorable characters in the picture. Liu Chia-Liang himself gets to star this time around, as well as handle the directorial work. The man is a tremendous worker and really shows amazing ability as a martial artist here. There is a fight sequence that comes late in the picture that features he and his adopted brother Gordon Liu, and the two set the screen on fire. It is funny to see how, after all of these years, both men have changed very little in their appearance. You can see the age that has dawned on their face, but both men have truly kept their facial features. They are both so young here and they take advantage of that youthful athleticism by putting on some of the best martial performances within their lengthy careers.
Chinese audiences no doubt hold grudges, and I don’t see this character as being friendly to the Ching’s nor the Western influence on the Chinese culture, but instead I see the filmmakers pointing out the futility in fighting against modern weaponization and in essence fighting the shifts in change. Mind you, I doubt Liu Chia-Liang was going into deep moments of reservation in contemplating what he wanted his movie to “say”, but on the most primitive levels I think his film has some interesting comments on modern weaponry versus traditionalism. This leads us of course to the title of the film itself, Legendary Weapons of China and as you can guess we do indeed get to see many such weapons throughout the film but the final fight sequence is the ultimate battle of traditional Chinese weaponry. Liu Chia-Liang is often known for incorporating a very realistic depiction of martial arts techniques and although this film does get pretty outlandish (martial artists being able to deflect bladed weapons and firearms), you still trust the man for depicting a fairly true vision of ancient Chinese martial arts.