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(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.