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Legendary Weapons of China (HK 1982)

aka 18 Legendary Weapons of China

Director : Lau Kar-Leung
Cast :  Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu Sheng, Hsiao Ho, Kara Hui Ying-Hung, Lau Kar Wing and Lau Kar-Leung.

During the Boxer Rebellion, gun toting foreigners invade China and begin slaughtering all who oppose them. Finding their skills no match for this deadly new firepower, Lei Kung retreats, but finds himself pursued by other kung fu schools who want him silenced. Using every Chinese weapon available, Lei takes on his informer brother in a battle to the death.

by Edward Tang

Let me first start off by saying that this film is loads of fun that delivers old school kung-fu at its finest. Lau-Kar Leung shines as both director and star of “Legendary Weapons of China”, a film that has no bullshit fighting and a great cast of characters. What really impressed me about this film was that even with a basically stupid plot, they made it more of a simple message, about trying to avoid death with mindless attempts to survive bullet wounds. The cast is very impressive, going down from Lau himself to Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu Sheng, Hsiao Ho, and Kara Hui-Ying Hung. These characters all get their licks in and are very impressive in every fight scene available to the viewer. There’s something about these films that always interest me, and this one shines as one of the better Lau-Kar Leung films of all time. Of course, you can’t go wrong with one of the best fight scenes I”ve seen in a while, where the Lau brothers take each other on in classic fashion. This is a no bullshit fight either, no fancy music, just plain action.

Getting into the plot was pretty easy. There’s this mysterious cult who wants Lei Kung (Lau-Kar Leung) dead for “betraying” them, so they send a few assassins (Hsiao Ho, Kara Hui Ying Hung and Gordon Liu). Lei Kung has posed as a wood-chopper, but is eventually found out. Tien Hao (Hsiao Ho) is tricked into thinking Wu (Alexander Fu Sheng) is the real Lei Kung, but is later revealed that he was payed to act as such. We later learn that Lei Kung’s brother Lui Yung (Lau Kar-wing) payed him to act, so that Lei would show his face. Fang Shau-ching (Kara Hui Ying-hung) finds out who the wood-chopper really is and confronts him. But she doesn’t throw down, she agrees with why Lei Kung did what he did (He stopped training his soldiers because he didn’t want them to die). Eventually the sickly Tien Hao finds Lei and tries to fight him, but is almost dead. Lei nurses him back to health, while at the same time, begins to use his kung-fu again to be ready for any attack on the forefront. Eventually, Ti Tan (Gordon Liu) finds them and they throw down in a fight. Lei kicks Ti’s ass and Tien Hao finds out that Lei isn’t a woodcutter. Then Tien Hao’s master appears and tries to take down Lei but to no avail, as he is also defeated. As we reach the finale, Lei faces his brother and beats him.

I’ve seen some wacky martial arts premises before, so this one didn’t seem that bad. The story was easy to follow and didn’t have too many flaws. The sets were pretty tacky, considering some of the better ones that have been in Shaw Brothers movies in the past. Lau’s crisp direction made this film really easy to take in, from a few comedic moments, to his mastery of martial arts direction, his style is great. From the opening credits (which introduces all the character) to the final battle, this film has enough fights to satisfy even an asshole like me. But what was really unique about this film was the beginning scenes involving the strange cult. It just didn’t really fit with the whole film (this basically pertains to people getting shot and other acts of dismemberment). After the cult scenes, nobody dies, not even the main foe. There’s then a use of different weapons, such as a throwing stars and magic. Yes I said magic, but it isn’t abused and looks pretty damn cool anyways. There’s a cool scene that involves Gordon Liu making a circle of fire and then falling into the middle, good stuff in that.

Lau stars in his own film as a kung-fu master who is tired of seeing his students killed. His part is great, he not only showcases his fighting skills but can be a respectable lead actor. Alexander Fu Sheng has a bit part in this, playing a conman who pretend to be Lei Kung. I thought that his role was probably the best of the film, he was funny and his stunt involving the “fake fight” was one of two major highlights in this film. The bit part included him and his goons trying to lure our Lei Kung with a great spectacle of him avoiding blades and literally pushing his guts back in. This fight wasn’t only fun, but it was masterfully choreographed. Gordon Liu fans probably won’t find much from him in this role, he does have a great fight with Lau towards the end, but he isn’t in the bulk of the film, but is a nice addition. You’ve got another girl posing as man played by Kara Hui, who does show her skill duking it out with Liu. Then Hsiao Hao, who plays a pretty good character, he made me laugh a few times when Gordon Liu was walking up and he was described him as a girl.

The fights are extremely well done, already mentioning Alexander Fu Sheng’s little fight. His fight was basically trying to be fun, but then there was another scene which used Alexander and a voodoo doll. It might be corny to some, but I found it to be pretty cool, as they’d be fighting over the doll, Fu Sheng would be moving around like an idiot. Liu’s fight is pretty strong as well, especially that oddness that occurred when he was using his back muscles as weapons. The best fight in this film easily belongs to the finale between both Lau brothers. They didn’t ruin this fight by using a bunch of shitty music or anything of such, but it was just a good 15 minutes of fighting with 18 different weapons. But the transition between weapons, and the all around skills of both fighters, made this fight memorable, then of course you had Hsiao acting out the voodoo doll shit at the end.

I haven’t seen the full collection of Lau Kar Leung’s work but I’m trying on it. This film is very good, because it runs away with being great in all directions. If you like these films, you should definitely add this one to your collection, because it’s a shining example of why these films are so great.

NOTE: This review is part of a roundtable portion that includes the website “It’s a Beautiful Film Worth Fighting For”, in which the subject pertains to Lau-Kar Leung films. Webpage can be found at : http://www.geocities.com/drngor/martialarts.html

Plot : 3/5
Acting : 4/5
Entertainment : 5/5
Overall : 4/5

Notable Scenes
- The final battle between the Lau brothers
- Alexander Fu Sheng’s fight as the fake Lei Kung.

Buy this movie at YesAsia – Legendary Weapons of China

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