Sunday, June 5, 2011

Choy Lee Fat Kung Fu (1979, HK, Taiwan?)

Starring: Cliff Lok, Yeung Pan Pan, Phillip Ko, Chan Siu-Pang, Lam Kau, Chiang Kam. Directed by: Chan Siu-Pang

This is an excellent Jackie Chan/Sammo Hung-style feature that's been extremely hard to find until the past decade or so, when at least two companies released it on DVD. This movie stars Cliff Lok and was made when Jackie Chan's popularity was beginning to soar worldwide. As such it seems to draw a lot of inspiration from his movies. However, it is a very unique movie in its own right.

In CLF, Cliff Lok plays Ah Sing, a drifting young man wanting to learn kung fu who wanders into a village. He has some of the locals perform a black magic spell on him in front of the local kung fu school so he can "have his body possessed by the spirit of a kung fu master". The sifu at this school, Sifu Chan (Lam) brings him out of his trance and wants to teach him kung fu, but cannot due to local village laws prohibiting him from teaching kung fu to those from outside the village.

However, he hires Ah Sing to work at the school and, naturally, he watches and learns. Eventually Sifu Chan agrees to teach him in secret until the local village elders find out and force him to stop and make Ah Sing leave.

Fortunately for Ah Sing, Sifu Chan puts him in touch with Monk Grass (Chan, who also directed this movie), who continues to teach him kung fu and helps him become an expert in the Choy Lay Fut techniques. However, Monk Grass must leave due to "problems" with the Ching authorities and he sends Ah Sing down to Guangdong Province to get in touch with some anti-Ching fighters.

Unfortunately for Ah Sing, the Ching authorities have a problem with those who know just as much, if not more, kung fu than they do. And sooner or later, Ah Sing runs afoul of the Ching authorities and their fighters as well, and must put his kung fu skills to the ultimate test.

Cliff Lok's training scenes in this movie are amazing to watch, and can wear you out by just watching them! Of course, the fighting scenes are excellent and it's fascinating to watch the different Choy Lay Fut techniques (which are named in Chinese on the side of the screen) being used in this movie. The acting in this movie is very good, and Cliff and Chiang Kam do excellent jobs as two Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung-style characters. The bad guy, played by Phillip Ko in this movie, is the typical white-haired evil kung fu master, but Phillip plays the part well. It's also worth mentioning that many of the supporting actors were in fact from the real-life Choy Lay Fut Student's Association in either Hong Kong or Taiwan, but it's not clear from the credits which country.

Also of interest in this movie is the Chinese dragon dance scene, which is very interesting to watch!

This is a good old-school kung fu movie to watch, especially if you're a fan of Cliff Lok or are interested in the Choy Lay Fut style of kung fu.

Also known as: 無刀快斬/Xiong sheng Cai Li Fo (original Mandarin title-HK and Taiwan)

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