|Opium and the Kung Fu Master (1984)|
|Starring:||Ti Lung, Chen Kuan Tai and Robert Mak|
|The Plot: Tang (Ti Lung) is a former-member of the famed Ten Tigers From Kwangtung, but he has settled in with his own school instead of seeking a life of danger and action. However, acting as the main form of law enforcement in this small town has lead him into some relatively dangerous situations. While trying to keep track of his rather silly students, he becomes a pawn in a rather treacherous plot being hatched by Brother Yung (Chen kuan Tai). Yung intends to move a opium den right into the center of town, and after bribing a official, this plan is put directly into action. Yun intends to hook all of the locals on his heavy drugs, and then he intends to assume power over all of the citizenry. Tang initially gives license to Yung in order to build his opium den, but not knowing the effects of the drug Tang soon becomes a addict himself. His star pupil, however, quickly realizes what is going on within the community. He tries to persuade Tang that the opium is evil, but it initially falls upon deaf ears. Unfortunately, great tragedy will befall the house of Tang, and only then will he quit the drugs and take on the evil do’ers who have ransacked his community.|
The film deals with a rather taboo topic amidst the world of Kung Fu cinema. Although the word “Opium” is in the title, one doesn’t actually expect to see opium use displayed on the big screen. To see Ti Lung laying down and hitting the pipe, well, it is a slightly surreal experience. Although the film starts off with a slightly light, and dare I say humorous, look at the opium problem, things quickly start to escalate. Despite all the trials and turn of events that come about during the film, it still seem odd to me that the character of Su Ahn is used as the catalyst to portray the evils of opium. Introduced as a character whose central role is that of comedic relief, he simply doesn’t seem to be the best fit for any real cinematic drama. This character is the worst sort of comedic relief too, as he portrays the most base level and over-the-top type of Hong Kong comedy that one person could find. Featuring crossed eyes and nearly speaking with a stutter, the character isn’t completely unbearable despite his lowest-common-denominator appeal, but he certainly grinds on the nerves of any self respecting viewer. However, when Su Ahn’s story comes to a close, it becomes both surreal and highly disturbing. In one of the most bizarre and harrowing sequences within a Shaw Bros. film, we get to see the true anguish a person’s family is put through because of drug use. I won’t spoil it, but it is a scene that audiences won’t soon forget.