Kung fu capers
A selection of some of the sillier moments from the world of martial arts movies.
Back in the 1980s legendary chop socky cheese director Godfrey Ho made a series of stunningly terrible ninja movies by splicing together footage he had shot himself with scenes plundered from other films or TV shows and dubbing on a soundtrack of whatever he found while rummaging through his CD collection. Here is a sample of his work, taken from Ninja Terminator, in which three ninjas each own part of the legendary Golden Ninja Warrior statue which bestows invincibility on whoever possesses it. Consequently each of them is a bit invincible and they constantly do battle for the complete cheesy artefact of legend to become supreme master of The Ninja Empire.
Otherworldly martial arts.
When a group of ninjas returning from a mission see a fireball descending from the skies to crash into a nearby forest they decide to investigate only to find themselves confronted by a bunch of bellicose extraterrestrials, setting the scene for an Alien vs Ninja encounter of stellar silliness. I think this clip is a fair representation of the general level of daftness although some scenes are so bizarre that you may find yourself doubting the evidence of your own eyes.
As all lovers of cheesy chop socky cinema will know, the dashing young hero must undergo a period of training with a wise old kung fu master in order to best the bad guys. Of course, wise old kung fu masters tend to be eccentric individuals but this clip, from The Tigress of Shaolin, takes eccentricity to a whole new level.
Martial arts madness.
There are some films which make just about no sense at all but are still brilliant anyway. One title which falls into this category is the 1993 offering The Heroic Trio. Even the title is misleading as one of the heroic trio of martial arts babes is, in fact, an antihero. This hotchpotch of enjoyable nonsense serves up a blend of martial arts, mad science, super powers and demonology. This clip is a mere morsel of the madness on offer.
Kung fu for cripples.
It hardly needs stating that all Shaw Brothers films are awesome, but some are even more awesome than others. To my mind one of their finest works is Crippled Avengers from 1978. Given that there are no less than five cripplings and avengings in the first couple of minutes you know from the outset that this is a film which very much lives up to its title. In this scene a blind man and a mad man take on a chap who has had both his arms chopped off and replaced with iron ones. Quite how the performers can do all that highly choreographed kung fu and acrobatics while remaining in character is a mystery to me but then that's one of the reasons why I love kung fu cinema.
Kung fu versus black magic.
Courageous Cheung (Sammo Hung) lives up to his name by never refusing to undertake any dangerous or daunting task. This trait is used against him by a devious fellow who covets Cheung's wife and tricks our hero into spending the night locked in a supposedly haunted mausoleum while hiring an evil wizard to resurrect the mausoleum's inhabitant so that the revenant will kill Cheung and leave his newly widowed wife free to marry the villain. Luckily for the hero a good wizard provides him with magical means to defend himself but when those means fail it it time for some kung fu versus black magic capers in Spooky Encounter.
Kung fu for girls.
Most kung fu fans know that the phrase "produced by Sammo Hung" is generally a clue that the film in question will contain plenty of action. She Shoots Straight from 1990 is a case in point with enough kung fu fights, gunfire, car crashes and explosions to keep any action fan happy. Here is kung fu cop and one-woman army Mina Kao (Joyce Godenzi) taking out a bad guy in a scene worthy of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon before being attacked by the bad guy's vengeful girlfriend. This fight should leave no one in any doubt that kung fu for girls can be a brutal business.
Junior ninja nonsense.
There are some staggeringly silly martial arts movies out there (as a brief perusal of this page will demonstrate) and one of the silliest ever made must surely be Watari: Ninja Boy from 1966. For a soupcon of the silliness on offer witness the plucky little fellow infiltrating the headquarters of a clan of super ninjas, each of whom has a special ability, as he attempts to rescue his friends from their nefarious clutches.