aka 天螺大破五行陣 aka Tin Loh Daai Poh Ng Hang Chan 1977 Written and directed by Heung Ling Deadly Snail vs. Kung Fu Killers is one of those films where you see the title and think “this movie will be AWESOME!” and then you watch it and it can never live up to your expectations from the title alone. Especially since it isn’t some sort of genre exploitation monster flick but is instead a reconfiguration of an old Chinese fairy tale/opera into a romantic comedy with increasingly weirder and weirder kung fu. So judging it as the exploitation flick you mistake it to be is sort of unfair. It isn’t the type of movie that you can readily explain to someone that doesn’t watch a lot of weird stuff, but for the affectionandos, Deadly Snail vs. Kung Fu Killers has some fun things you don’t often see, and the rest of the film could be a lot worse to sit through while waiting for those scenes than it is.
We do have chicks who are fairies of the snail variety fighting some kung fu killers who are actually various elemental demons and a lizard guy. But I guess Fairy Chicks vs. Elemental Dudes doesn’t pack ’em in at the movie houses. The story at first follows the standard tale of a young man whose family is dead and his evil uncle and aunt are using him just to waste away his inheritance that he knows nothing about (at least they don’t make him live under the stairs!) But then thinks get more magical and the film gets more awesome!
The opening credits have red and blue sparlking lights, then a montage of snakes and a snail shell. This was the time when kung fu movies would have someone doing a bunch of jumps and kicks in the opening credits, so instead having snakes slither around and snail shells is sort of fun. I am not sure if a snail was killed at some point, though, so boo to that if it happened! What we do see is a bloody snail shell, but by the amount and color of the blood it is just fake human blood. A guy grabs the snail shell which has rolled over to him away from the snake. I can’t tell you how many times I see snail shells rolling away from snakes. Probably 19 times a day. But I live on a farm that raises rolling snails and also snakes that practice bowling, so maybe I’m biased. Continue reading →
aka 白骨陰陽劍(下集) aka The Yin Yang Blade aka Ingentious Swords, Part Two aka Bai gu yin yang jian, xia ji 1962HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Directed by Ling Yun
Dancing with the Trees never took off like Dancing with the Stars did…
The magic of The White-boned Sword continues with Part 2, which features slightly less monsters but slightly more martial intrigue. Which means the entry is less friendly for watching without subtitles. There is some nice sword fights, nice animated martial effects, and the return of the Tree Spirit. But there is also a bunch of people arguing, a pointless martial tournament, and weird pipe fighting that sounds cool but gets old really quick. A disappointing second entry, but the next two parts give us some more monsters so I’ll take this brief break in the fun.
Wong Tin-ho (Walter Tso Tat-wah) – Helping Luk Fong-fei and Black Girl train along with Wu Sheung-fung, but is drawn into more sword-related martial intrigue. Doesn’t really do much amazing stuff in this entry.
Wu Sheung-fung (Yu So Chow) – Still helping Wong Tin-ho train Luk Fong-fei and Black Girl, she proves her martial superiority early in this entry, and even tricks some of the dumbest villains in martial history.
Luk Fong-fei (Connie Chan Po-chu) – Daughter of a murdered family and training to get revenge, while also being a rebellious teen who sneaks out to do more martial arts stuff. Like teens do.
Pak Ha-mui aka Black Girl (Yip Wai-Ngai) – Daughter of a murdered mother and possessor of magic swords. She also is easily offended when you blame her for people being killed. She’s so over being part of a franchise and being responsible for magic swords
Vampire Lady (Kong Bo-Lin) – Vampire Lady is back in domino form. This is probably her weakest appearance in the series, but she makes up for it in the other entries.
Tree Spirit (Himself) – He’s dead but he’s back, because you can’t kill a spirit. Or at least a spirit that is connected to the sword via magic and it can summon him to fight evil.
Ghost Mother (Kam Ying-Lin) – The nefarious Ghost Mother returns, now teamed up with a new group of baddies who don’t give her any respect. She’s graduated from being the big bad to being the person killed by worse villains just to show how evil they are. At one point the synopsis calls her Blue Flower Ghostly Mother so that’s probably her full, legal name for you trivia buffs out there!
Pipe Guy (Chow Gat) – Part of a pipe-based martial sect who briefly orchestrates posession of the White-boned Swords before his group is easily tricked out of them. That must not be tobacco they are smoking in those pipes!
Sek Kin 2.0 (Sek Kin) – I never figured out what his character name was, but Sek Kin 2.0 keeps up the tradition and dies just like his identical twin brother did in Part 1. He works with the Five Element Taoists in a sword-snatching scheme that backfires because they are the villains and not the heroes in the story, you see. His name might be Three-hand Lohan Mak Tin-lung, which is a cool name but as I couldn’t prove it was him, it will go unassigned until I use it in a story I write years form now…
Old Devilish Eccentric (Ling Mung) – A mad wondering monk who is good and trains Black Girl after she runs off after fighting with Luk Fong-fei. The world needs more crazy martial guys who wander around and live in trees, so I support him 100%!
aka 如來神掌(四集) aka The Young Swordsman Lung Kim Fei Part 4 aka 如來神掌(四集大結局)
1964HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Story by Shangguan Hong
Directed by Ling Yun
Hey, it’s Buddha’s Palm Part 4! As you recall from the introductions to Buddha’s Palm Part 1, Buddha’s Palm Part 2, and Buddha’s Palm Part 3, we’re sort of getting burnt out introducing the same thing over again. So let’s pretend this introduction has more exciting information than it actually does. But, seriously, if I did suddenly find new information, I would probably be editing it into the relevant Buddha’s Palm movie.
The adventured we got “To be continued!” on in the last time comes to a close. And it’s really the close of the whole story, except for that whole several more sequels produced years later by different production companies thing. Let’s just forget about that for now, and focus on the current installment. Do we got cool new monsters? YES! Two brand new cool monsters show up for battle. Do they die a horrible death, murdered by our bloodlusting protagonists who can’t let innocent monsters who are minding their own business live? Yes! So “BOOOOOO!!!” to monster murder! Is there magic drawn on effects that show the super wuxia forces at battle? Yes! Is there no stinking subtitles, of which TarsTarkas.NET does not need? Yes! Yes as in no subtitles.
Though this is the end of the Buddha’s Palm Quadrology, don’t worry. There is one more article coming up, and it will be something special. A celebration. But until then, let’s get on with the show!
Lung Kim-fei (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – The Buddha’s Palm hero must find a way to stop the Three Devils from taking over the world of kung fu, and also unlock the secret of the ninth style of the Buddha’s Palm.
Kau Yuk-wah (Yu So-Chau) – Kung fu sister who has to help save the day from evil jerks who want to take everything over.
Kau Yuk-kuen (Patricia Lam Fung) – Kung fu sister who also has to help save the day from evil jerks who want to take everything over.
Master Ku Hon-wan (Ling Mung) – How many tripod jars can you levitate with a sword in your back? Probably not as many as Master Ku, though that doesn’t stop him from dying.
Condor (Man in suit) – Master Ku Hon-wan’s magic condor is still giving rides and rescuing people, though he refuses to leave the grave of Master Ku, so he won’t be in the rest of the film.
But Ku (Ko Lo-Chuen) – The helmsman of the Cheung Lei Sect doesn’t let evil jerks trying to take everything over stop him from loudly yelling before he enters a room. But that may be the death of him…
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? No!
Suen Bik-ling (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Matriarch of the Kau’s clan. She died in the last movie, but shows up in flashback here for another example of how she wasn’t very nice.
Auyeung Ho (Siu Chung-Kwan) – A jerk guy who bullied Lung, and now pals around with the Three Devils. Except they aren’t pals any more, if you know what I mean…
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. Will use the palm-imprinted tripods to figure out the secret of the Buddha’s Palm technique, but they don’t have all the tripods!
Lau Piu-piu (Chan Wai-Yue) – The helmswoman of Heavenly Fragrance Sect, she’s reluctant to help stop the Three Devils because Suen scarred her face long long ago. But a magic face cream cures everything, so she agrees to help. But it may be the death of her…
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.
aka 天山龍鳳劍 aka Tian shan long feng jian aka 神劍女瘋俠 aka The Magic Sword and the Eccentric Lady Knight aka Shen Jian Nu Feng Xia
1961 Written and directed by Wong Fung
Mysterious super swords cause a whole heap of problems in The Swords of Tien Shan. This Cantonese wuxia flick is believed to be a coproduction of two different companies, each producing one part of the two-part feature film. According to reports, part 1 was produced by Hoo King Motion Picture Co., while part 2 is credited to Lap Tat Film Co. Wong Fung (How The Ape Girl Stole The Lotus Lamp, The Blonde Hair Monster, and Golden Skeleton) wrote and directed both parts, so this looks like just a unique way of crediting a coproduction. The two films were later edited down into a single film and retitled The Magic Sword and the Eccentric Lady Knight (神劍女瘋俠), which is the version I am reviewing as the original two films are unavailable (and might be lost?)
The editing of two films into one does cause a bit of a problem, because the flow of the film is now even more disjointed, and at times characters wander off for reasons not explained, or are introduced as already established people. This is complicated because there are already so many characters, and because this is an older Cantonese wuxia flick, the pacing is already a lot more casual than a modern film. The disjointedness hurts the film, but it doesn’t mean it’s awful, it just becomes a weirder wuxia epic. It also focuses on different actors than the story of the original films, downplaying and almost eliminating several major characters. Instead, the film focuses mainly on Josephine and Sek Kin, with a lot of Connie thrown in (though at least one major Connie Chan scene is MIA)
The gorilla costume looks like it is the same one used in How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp, though this film was made first and the gorilla Yin-yin is a semi-major character here. I would theorize that the gorilla costume was made for this film, but I would not be surprised at all to see it show up in other earlier films, either.
Being a Cantonese wuxia flick from the 1960s, some of the familiar stars are here. Young Josephine Siao and Connie Chan are running around (Connie playing a boy once again!) Sek Kin is a former villain, Lau Hark-suen is a weirdo, Sai Gwa-Pau and Mui Yan are “comic relief”, and Simon Yuen Siu-Tin is an eccentric kung fu master and teacher. Because of how things were carved up as the two films were merged, I’ll add in some missing portions quoted directly from the HKFA synopsis. But there will be some gaps where things make little sense. And since this film is pretty darn rare, the film synopsis will be detailed detailed detailed.
Kam Ming-chu (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Female Kam sibling who is a student of Kei Sun-kung, before her brother is killed and she is driven crazy by Snake Fruit thanks to getting involved in the Swords of Tien Shan mess.
Kam Siu-long (Connie Chan Po-Chu) – Male Kam sibling (yep, Connie Chan is playing a boy again!) who is killed when the Swords of Tien Shan mess is dropped on his rooftop. Eventually risen from the dead in a non-zombie form. Oddly enough, the Kam parents disappear from the film after his funeral and neither sibling bother to look them up later or even let them know Kam Siu-long is alive again.
Kei Sun-kung (Sek Kin) – Sifu of the Kam siblings who is a former bandit, and might not be as former as you think. He has one weakness: being behind him!
To Sam-tin (Lau Hak-Suen) – An eccentric witchdoctor who has been driven insane via ingesting Snake Fruit. He’s sane enough to try to steal the Swords of Tien Shan when they surface. Lau Hak-Suen was an actor who appeared in 488 films from 1934 until 1983 (his death). Towards the end of his career his output slowed down and he tried his hand at directing a few times. His quote “Ladies, please drink up for it’s only sugar water” lives on in the internet today.
Fatty Disciple (Mui Yan) – To Sam-tin’s larger bumbling assistant who spends most of the film doing goofy things.
Scrawny Disciple (Sai Gwa-Pau) – To Sam-tin’s scrawny bumbling assistant who also spends most of the film doing goofy things. Can act like a cat.
Iron Arhat (Simon Yuen Siu-Tin) – Monk who lives in a cave meditating all day, when he isn’t wandering around in graveyards reviving dead children. Is the most powerful person in the film, thus he doesn’t do much of anything.
Yin-yin (???) – Awesome gorilla who lives with Iron Arhat and screams an all too human scream. Likes to do good deeds.