aka 如來神掌(三集) aka The Young Swordsman Lung Kim Fei Part 3 aka 如來神掌(三集大結局)
1964HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Story by Shangguan Hong
Directed by Ling Yun
It’s a whole new chapter in the Buddha’s Palm saga as Part 3 takes us into new intrigue and adventures. A joyous celebration becomes a tragedy when murder is the special guest. Lung Kim-fei and his new bride Kau Yuk-wah must find out who killed Suen. The rest of the crew is also searching for answers, and we run across arrogant martial arts masters and evil jerks causing trouble. But most excitedly, there is a brand new monster!
Buddha’s Palm (Part 3) goes more into the details of the world we were introduced to in Part 1 and Part 2. We meet some new schools, and find out that part of the reason there are so many problems in the martial world is a mix of rash accusations and arrogant school heads. Of course, everyone stopping to chat around some tea doesn’t make good cinema. Unless you’re really good at writing dialogue…
Once again, the effects and monster costumes are what make the Buddha’s Palm films. Though we only get one new monster, there are a lot of new martial arts effects – waves, blasts, explosions, giant bells. The increase in effects in Parts 3 and 4 is very evident. Once again, there are not subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Lung Kim-fei (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – The Buddha’s Palm hero is set to be wed, but an untimely murder ruins everything, including his honeymoon! Now he has to hunt down murderers.
Kau Yuk-wah (Yu So-Chau) – Kung fu sister whose marriage is marred by the murder of her matriarch. Spends her time with Lung hunting down clues. They are much more polite about accusing everyone they meet of murder than her sister’s group.
Kau Yuk-kuen (Patricia Lam Fung) – Kau Yuk-wah’s younger sister who sets out to find out what happened to her matriarch. Is kidnapped twice during this film. Also finds the most best clues. And causes the most trouble with people who aren’t keen on being accused of killing people.
Master Ku Hon-wan (Ling Mung) – Is gone for most of the film, but returns to Earth to find out about the murder and surmises who is responsible rather quickly. But it may be the death of him…
Condor (Man in suit) – Master Ku Hon-wan’s magic condor is still giving rides and rescuing people!
But Ku (Ko Lo-Chuen) – The helmsman of the Cheung Lei Sect doesn’t let a murder investigation stop him from loudly yelling before he enters a room.
Luk Yu (Kwan Hoi-San) – Friend of the Kau sisters, a guy who gets captured a lot and Lung Kim-fei keeps saving. Does he get captured in this movie? Yes!
Suen Bik-ling (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Matriarch of the Kau’s clan. No longer hides her disfigured face, which is beginning to heal. Is murdered by a mysterious weapon, and much of the film is spent trying to figure out who did it.
Auyeung Ho (Siu Chung-Kwan) – A jerk guy who bullied Lung, and now pals around with the Three Devils. He’s graduated to being more evil than before!
Ten Thousand-hand Lohan (???) – Just a guy who can identify rare weapons, which makes him a target of friends and foes. Gets foed. Despite having ten thousand hands, this is one Lohan who never goes to jail!
Three Devils (Cheung Seng-Fai, Hoh Siu-Hung, Lee Sau-Kei) – Three evil dudes who conspire to cause trouble in the land of kung fu while solidifying their power.
Lau Piu-piu (Chan Wai-Yue) – The helmswoman of Heavenly Fragrance Sect, she’s initially suspected of Suen Bik-ling’s murder, but is cleared when she claims to be a sworn sister of Suen.
aka 如來神掌(二集) aka The Young Swordsman Lung Kim Fei Part 2 aka 如來神掌(下集大結局)
1964HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Story by Shangguan Hong
Directed by Ling Yun
Buddha’s Palm Part 2, the adventure continues! When last we left our intrepid travelers, Lung Kim-fei had helped recover dragonroot to restore the sight of Suen. The first thing she sees when she regains her sight is his uniform, the same uniform as his sifu, Master Ku Hon-wan the Wicked God of Fiery Cloud and enemy of Suen. So she blasts Lung in the chest!
This edition is unique in it is the only one of the Buddha’s Palm series that does not have the iconic opening credits sequence of Lung Kim-fei shooting palm blasts at a Buddha painting every ten seconds. But don’t fear, it will return for the next two parts of Buddha’s Palm. Part 2 finishes the story began in Part 1, while Parts 3 and 4 are their own story. Some of the monster costumes from the prior film return, along with a new surprise.
Burdened by the story, there is less quest adventuring going on, and more of running and fighting adventuring. The next two chapters will attempt to balance the questing and the fighting, but for now we got a stream of action sequences. The plot is largely propelled by Suen’s anger, while Master Ku is given a moment to act all cocky like his character’s back story is supposed to be. But oddly enough, that saves the day. So the lesson is to be cocky, but explain yourself? Sure, whatever Buddha’s Palm!
Lung Kim-fei (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – This zero became a hero and got blasted in the chest for it! Luckily he’s saved by Kau Yuk-wah and his friends until things are set into motion and clans prepare to battle, unless Lung Kim-fei helps bring peace.
Kau Yuk-wah (Yu So-Chau) – Kung fu sister who falls for Lung Kim-fei and tries to save him. Spends part of the film racked with guilt when she thinks her sister died. Helps Lung rescue Luk Yu and then tries to help calm down the feuding clans.
Kau Yuk-kuen (Patricia Lam Fung) – Kau Yuk-wah’s younger sister who is believed killed early in the film, but is actually rescued by Master Ku and trained in the Buddha’s Palm Technique. Her being saved and welcomed helps calm the feud between Master Ku and Master Suen.
Master Ku Hon-wan (Ling Mung) – The Wicked God of Fiery Cloud, his sight was recently restored by Lung. Trains Kau Yuk-kuen in the Buddha’s Palm technique after Condor saves her.
Condor (Man in suit) – Master Ku Hon-wan’s magic condor who saves people all the time. And you can ride him!
But Ku (Ko Lo-Chuen) – The helmsman of the Cheung Lei Sect. Always announces himself via incredibly loud offscreen yelling. Helps rescue Lung and tries to calm the clan feuding that’s going on.
Luk Yu (Kwan Hoi-San) – Friend of the Kau sisters, a guy who gets kidnapped a lot and Lung Kim-fei keeps saving. Does he get kidnapped in this movie? Yes!
Suen Bik-ling (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Matriarch of the Kau’s clan. Was blinded in duel with Master Ku Hon-wan long ago, and just regained her sight. Wears a mask to hide her disfigured face. Is willing to start a war to get revenge on Master Ku.
Auyeung Ho (Siu Chung-Kwan) – A jerk guy who bullied Lung, but not he gets shown up by the kung fu trained Lung. So suck it, bully!
Auyeung Ho’s wife (???) – Auyeung Ho’s wife, she gets to watch her jerk husband be humiliated…again!
aka 如來神掌(上集) aka The Young Swordsman Lung Kim-fei Part 1
1964HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Story by Shangguan Hong
Directed by Ling Yun
In Kung Fu Hustle, Bruce Leung’s The Beast character’s name translates to Dark God of the Fire Clouds. While that name is awesome in it’s own right, it’s also borrowed from Buddha’s Palm (and the pulp wuxia serials that Buddha’s Palm is based on.) That is an example of the lasting influence the Buddha’s Palm films have had on Hong Kong entertainment, particularly wuxia and martial arts cinema.
Though far far far from the first wuxia pian tale to be translated to the screen, the Buddha’s Palm series heavily influenced later films with the fantasy effects and memorable tales. Having seen about a dozen of the old black and white Cantonese wuxia films, I can say that the Buddha’s Palm series just feels bigger than the others. It’s like Star Wars compared to one of the cash in scifi flicks that finished out the 70s. Though some of the later wuxia films attempted to be as creative, they didn’t have the resources available to compete, and soon the whole deal was eclipsed by Shaw.
For some of this background information, I am handicapped by the lack of information in English about wuxia tales and their authors. So some of this is conjecture, and may be inaccurate. Feel free to drop some knowledge on me if things are wrong. That’s how we all learn.
The tale is largely taken from two sources – Taiwanese author Liu Canyang’s Heavenly Buddha Palm (天佛掌) and Cantonese author Shangguan Hong’s Thousand Buddhas’ Fist. The general plot seems borrowed from Liu’s tale, while the characters are from Shangguan Hong’s stories (and he is the name listed in the credits.) Thousand Buddhas’ Fist was serialized in Ming Pao Daily, which was the place to be a serialized wuxia tale. It was founded by Louis Cha Leung-yung, better known to wuxia story lovers as Jin Yong (the author of the Condor Trilogy) How much the movies’ “borrowing” from Liu was legitimate, I cannot say, as there do not seem to be translations of the stories available. Some of the original stories have been adapted into comic novels.
The Buddha’s Palm films work because they are a grand adventure. There are battles, but there are also a enormous amount of special effects. One of the memorable features are the hand-drawn effects as characters blast away at each other, or control rings and chains and beams that battle in the air. Art director Lo Ki-Ping was the man responsible for the look of the series and most of the hand-painted effects. He also designed the various monster costumes that help spice up Buddha’s Palm. While obviously men in suits, they have a level of B-movie appeal that lame CGI creatures will never match. The effects action enhances the choreography done by action director Simon Yuen Siu-Tin.
Series director Ling Yun went on to direct the three followups The Furious Buddha’s Palm (1965), Buddhist Spiritual Palm (1968), and Buddhist Spiritual Palm Returned (1968). The latter two feature a largely new cast. The Buddha’s Palm franchise was updated in 1982 with Shaw Brother’s Buddha’s Palm, and there has been at least two television series based on the stories. Kung Fu vs. Acrobatic was also a detailed love letter to this series and similar films. With the current trend of remaking everything, I would not be surprised if someone dusted off the Buddha’s Palm tales to bring back to the big screen.
The wonderful DVD set comes complete with no English subtitles. But here at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles! Some character names I used are taken from synopses that may or may not be a good translation. But that just adds to the fun!
Lung Kim-fei (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – A scarred loser largely abandoned and mocked by his former master and fellow martial arts students. Until one day he’s rescued and trained by Master Ku to learn the Buddha’s Palm technique! Now this zero has become a hero!
Kau Yuk-wah (Yu So-Chau) – Kung fu sister who gets involved in the intrigue with Lung Kim-fei and his Master. She soon is also getting involved romantically with Lung Kim-fei. But first he has to save her and her sister a few times.
Kau Yuk-kuen (Patricia Lam Fung) – Kau Yuk-wah’s younger sister who often does more brash and brave deeds, partially because she’s just a more do-it-yourself person and partially to help her sister.
Master Ku Hon-wan (Ling Mung) – The Wicked God of Fiery Cloud who lives high in the mountains. Long ago, Master Ku slaughtered the heads of many martial arts schools during a sparring match, and has since lived in seclusion with his loyal servant, Condor. He was blinded in a duel with Suen Bik-ling long ago. Trains Lung Kim-fei in the Buddha’s Palm technique after Condor saves him.
Condor (Man in suit) – Master Ku Hon-wan’s magic condor that you can ride and knows kung fu.
But Ku (Ko Lo-Chuen) – The helmsman of the Cheung Lei Sect. Always announces himself via incredibly loud offscreen yelling. He teaches Lung the invincible Seven Spinning Gash after the two become friends via randomly encountering each other in the forest.
Luk Yu (Kwan Hoi-San) – A guy who gets kidnapped a lot and Kau Yuk-kuen and Lung Kim-fei keeps saving. He’s not really introduced, he’s just suddenly a main character after Kau Yuk-kuen stumbles across the first of his many kidnappings.
Suen Bik-ling (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Matriarch of the Kau’s clan and the grandmother to the sisters. Is called the Capricious Flying Ring. Was blinded in duel with Ku Hon-wan long ago. Wears a mask to hide her disfigured face. Is full of rage and thirst for vengeance.
Auyeung Ho (Siu Chung-Kwan) – A jerk guy who bullies Lung. He’s married to the woman who scarred Lung’s face.
Auyeung Ho’s wife (???) – Auyeung Ho’s wife, a kung fu student who scarred Lung’s face and then joins in on the mocking of him.
1969 Written by Wan Hoi-Ching and Ling Hon
Directed by Chan Lit-Ban
A Cantonese swordplay flick featuring a masked heroine, plenty of swordplay, piles of bodies, and one of the fastest paces I’ve seen in a Cantonese language feature from this time. Sword of Emei was a great surprise and a highly recommended action film. By 1969, the rails were starting to come off of the Hong Kong film insdustry, as pressure from the far superior Shaw Studios was making the local productions look like child plays. One way the industry tried to take up the slack was to push for some more adultish wuxia flicks, thus what would have probably been a slower female sworswoman (nuxia) film with a lot of gabbing in 1966 suddenly is a fast-paced action bonanza focused on one of the hot female leads of the time. And while it isn’t one of the Jane Bond flicks of the era, it does feature some of the plot tropes transplanted back to older China, along with the standard wuxia ideas like super swords and being noble bandits.
The main reason why this is so enjoyable is the pacing, so let’s give a hooray to action directors Han Ying-Chieh and Leung Siu-Chung for coming up with modern action film pacing 40 years ago! Sure, with the vast amount of action going on vs the probably minuscule shooting schedule, the action isn’t complex, and most characters get killed in a slash or two, but there is a ton of it and it makes up for the complex swordfighting that was still in its infancy at the time.
Sword of Emei was originally filmed in color, but the only released version I could find was a black and white vcd with a beat up print and burnt in subs (subtitles are rare on a lot of these films, so I’ll take what I can get!) thus explaining these blurry, blown up screencaps I have for you. According to the cast listings, there is an attempt to give some cross-national appeal with Mitr Chaibancha! Except I couldn’t spot him and didn’t even know he was supposed to be in this film until after it was over. Oops! Sammo Hung Kam-Bo is also somewhere among the many men slaughtered, but with all the carnage, he could be Guard #3 or Guard #343! So instead, let’s focus on the cast we know:
Masked Mau (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Masked Mau is also called Masked Hero in the subtitles. She’s the mysterious thief giving people fits and also dispensing justice from the end of a blade…a Chin Fang Sword blade, which is like the best sword blade ever! No one knows who she is or that’s she’s even a she! Who could she be…
Lo Fang-ying (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – orphan raised by relatives who own an inn. Her Uncle Ma taught her to hunt, shoot, and swordfight, which she totally doesn’t use as skills when dressed up as a masked thief who goes all Robin Hood on villains. Nope!
Au King (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Mystery swords guy who comes into town just in time to catch Masked Mau, but he actually falls for her and Lo Fang-ying, which we knew would happen because he’s the only available guy in the film who isn’t instantly killed!
Lord Chao Pai-tien (Sek Kin) – Jerk who acts like a jerk because his brother-in-law is the evil emperor. Terrorizes the land and the people, and totally hits on all the young ladies. But don’t tell him he does that, because he hates facts as well.
Uncle Ma (Ling Mung) – Fang-ying’s uncle who has raised her since her parents were murdered by Lord Chao. Taught her the fighting skills she uses to slaughter hundreds of people.
Aunt Ma (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Fang-ying’s aunt who isn’t too keen on all this heroine business until she decides to pick up a sword and kill people as well. And she’s good at it. Which means she had combat training also and probably killed lots of dudes…
Hsiao Lan (Sum Chi-Wah) – Constantly endangered girl who made the mistake of being attractive in an area where Lord Chao wants all hot babes chained to his bed. Wears a hairstyle that looks like she’s sporting a mickey mouse hat at certain angles.
The Blonde Hair Monster is a story from the pulp series Wong Ang the Flying Heroine Bandit. These tales originated in 1940’s Shanghai from intelligence worker Siu Ping (aka Xiao Ping), who used his stories to speak out against the social and economic injustices of the time, creating a hero to fight for the people. Siu Ping fled to Hong Kong as the Chinese Civil War intensified and the Communists declared victory. The Wong Ang character spoke to the citizens of Hong Kong just as she had to the citizens of Shanghai, and became big sellers in the 1950s. Wong Ang is a play on the word for Oriole, and thus is known as Oriole in several title translations.
Wong Ang fits the profile of the virtuous female fighter character. While not being a nuxia (swordswoman), she is set in modern day and works with modern tools to take on modern problems. The rich and the powerful who think they can get away with crimes meet their matches, and the innocent and forgotten find the justice they need in their lives.
My favorite part of Blonde Hair Monster is how the vcd is missing an entire reel of the film! Luckily for me, I tracked down a guy on YouTube who uploaded the middle chunk of a TVB broadcast of the film for some reason, and that middle chunk has the missing reel! That’s also why some of the screencaps look different. TarsTarkas.NET goes the extra mile to give you the review you deserve, because we care, when we’re not being lazy! What is even more weird is the TVB broadcast is also missing pieces that the vcd had. So I’ve put together an extended edition of The Blonde Hair Monster that just might be the most complete copy of the film in the world. And yet there still is no title card…
Because this film is obscure as frak and I had to composite it together, this review will be detailed and long. So, sorry if you aren’t into that sort of thing, but bully if you are! And for more, much more on the Jane Bond films that this is a prototype of, listen to the Jane Bond Infernal Brains Podcast!
Wong Ngan (Yu So-Chau) – The champion of the people and solver of mysteries. Wong Ngan the Oriole fights for justice, and for just being there when stuff goes down. She and her girls will solve any mystery that comes along and won’t take any crap while doing so, though Wong Ngan is more likely to dispense with the villains with a polite smile than her sidekicks.
Heung Ngan (Connie Chan Po-Chu) – Wong Ngan’s younger sidekick, who is sassy and tough, and not afraid to fight a gigantic yellow-haired monster on occasion. Or a lady in a skeleton costume. Or a jerk homeowner keeping her from having a banana. The film is well aware Connie Chan will be the cat’s meow in another year or two, and makes sure to keep her on screen.
Wu Nga (Chan Hiu-Kau) – Wong Ngan’s other sidekick, who wears a K on her jacket (for Krazy!) She’s more reserved than Heung Ngan, but isn’t afraid to kick some butt if need be.
Inspector To (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – Walter Tso shows up as his Inspector character that he played from time to time when not starring in a period piece. It’s a good thing Inspector To let these women wander around and solve his case for him, because he’s wrong on just about everything until Wong Nang politely explains what happened.
Cheung Yan-Lei (Sek Kin) – The framed younger brother of Cheung Yan-Chuen who spent years in jail and recently escaped. He’s plotting revenge, but a jerk like Cheung Yan-Chuen has so many enemies Yan-Lei is going to have to get in line.
Cheung Yan-Chuen (Ling Mung) – The evil brother who framed his brother for murder and screwed over a lot of people in his life. A list of his enemies would just be a copy of the phone book (Cheung Yan-Chuen wouldn’t be there, as he’d have an unlisted telephone number just to be away from everyone else!) Learns why you should never turn your back on your enemies, especially the ones with knives.
Cheung Kai-Ting (Cheung Ying-Tsoi) – Son of Cheung Yan-Chuen who now has to deal with his idiot father’s enemies coming to cause problems. You think you have dad problems.
Yau Tin Lung (Lam Liu-Ngok) – The servent to Cheung Yan-Chuen who is listed here because she’s a major character with a secret. And just ignore the fact there is a mystery character who is obviously female…
Sifu (Lok Gung) – A one-eyed sorcerer who helps Cheung Yan-Lei after his escape from jail and just happens to have a giant manservant and an orangutan on hand in his lab. So did Cheung Yan-Lei escape from jail into a pulp novel? You’d be surprised, because this film is based on a pulp novel!
Blonde Hair Monster (Siu Gam) – Was originally Sifu’s servant Mo Mo before a horrible accident and the addition of orangutan blood turned him into the fearful Blonde Hair Monster! Is that blonde hair real? Only his hairdresser knows for sure!
Ghost Lady (It is a mystery!) – Who could this mysterious ghost lady be? And why is she wearing a skeleton head when she is a ghost?
Lady in Black Cracks the Gate of Hell is different than the other two Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa films, because there is less Muk Lan-Fa in it. Sister Muk Sau-Jan takes much of the spotlight for the first half of the film. I don’t know if actress Suet Nei was busy (she had several other films out that year), or if the studio decided it wanted to focus more on Law Oi-Seung and try to make her a bigger star as well. If so, it didn’t quite work, as her film output never reached star levels and she faded away to obscurity, to be only mentioned by guys with websites.
Lady in Black Cracks the Gate of Hell is also different because it looks more low-rent. The scale seems smaller, the plot more confusing, the stakes are less severe, and the villain dies in one of the lamest (but realistic) ways ever. But it’s still some good Jane Bond. And worth tracking down if you’re into this sort of stuff. Once again, the only available formats is unsubtitled vcd or DVD. And as we all know, at TarsTarkas.net, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Muk Lan-Fa (Suet Nei) – Cracking the gates of Hell is child’s play for the Dark Heroine at this point. So let’s give her a real challenge: punching Cerberus through the gates of Hell in one punch. Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa has 24 hours to complete this task.
Muk Sau-Jan (Law Oi-Seung) – Dark Heroine’s sister spends most of the film starring in the film as Dark Heroine is MIA for a huge chunk of it. And then she gets kidnapped again and again and again. It’s crazy!
Ko Cheung (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Ko Cheung is the cop with the mop. Wait, that makes no sense. And now I’ve screwed up this whole cast bio! Dang it. Move on to the next guy…
Sing Sam Long (Fung Ngai) – The Fat Bad Guy in charge of this latest gang, whose name I didn’t catch because it isn’t in the title nor do they have their own company letterhead. As a mastermind, he’s pretty lame, and he gets foiled rather easily and dies like a jerk. A jerk!