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Mad Monkey Kung Fu

Hong Kong 1979
produced by
Shaw Brothers
directed by Liu Chia-Liang (= Lau Kar-leung)
starring Liu Chia-Liang (= Lau Kar-leung), Hsiao Hou, Kara Hui, Chan Hei, Lam Fai Wong, Lee King Chu, Lin Hui Huang, Lin Ke Ming, Sai Gwa-pau, Wang Han Chen, Wong Ching-Ho
written by Ni Kuang, music by Eddie Wang, fighting instructor: Liu Chia-Liang (= Lau Kar-leung)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Chen (Liu Chia-Liang) and his sister (Kara Hui) earn there living by performing monkey kung fu on stage, and Chen is a real master fighter, but he also takes to drinking a little too much ...

As it happens, crooked Tuan (Lo Lieh) lusts after Chen's sister, thus he makes up a plan to get Chen really drunk during a  demonstration of his skills, then he sees to it that Chen is found in bed with another woman who claims he raped her, and then Tuan asks for Chen's head. Seeing her brother about to be executed, Ms Chen offers herself to Tuan to save her brother's life. Tuan agrees, but also demands to have Chen's hands crippled ...

No longer able to perform kung fu with his crippled hands, Chen now wanders the countryside selling candies with a little monkey as companion - and as long as nobody mentions wine or women, he's at peace with the world. Only a street kid called Little Monkey (Hsiao Hou) sees through his disguise, becomes his friend and urges Chen to teach him in monkey kung fu. Chen at first declines, but when ruffians kill his pet monkey and demand protection money, he grows more and more dependant on Little Monkey and gives in, and soon enough, Little Monkey is almost as good as Chen once was - but Little Monkey is also a hothead, and eventually he and his master fall out ...

Soon enough, Little Monkey is taking on the ruffians who were bullying Chen, and he has no problems defeating them. Then though the boss of the ruffians shows up, and it's none other than Tuan, who not only teaches Little Monkey a lesson and ultimately threatens to cut off his head - and Little Monkey is saved only just by the timely intervention of Chen's sister, and he manages to make a getaway.

Chen's sister eventually learns that the whole story with Chen raping the other woman and such was jsut a setup by Tuan to get his hands on her, and she soon tries to fight him on her own. Little Monkey, who has been hanging around, joins the fight when he realizes that she is the woman who saved his life, but Tuan is too good a fighter for both of them, and ultimately Little Monkey must make an escape while Chen's sister is killed.

Little Monkey now returns to Chen, tells him about the whole setup, the two train some more, and ultimately take on Tuan. In the final fight they not only defeat him, they also cripple his hands ...


Of course, the story of this film is utterly clichéd (a fate the movie shares with many Shaw Brothers kung fu flicks of the time actually), but on one hand at least it doesn't take itself too seriously, on the other, the fight scenes are really top-notch for their time and at times hilariously inventive. Not a masterpiece mayhaps, but quite entertaining actually.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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