Saturday, December 30, 2006

[1981] MARTIAL CLUB: Another great little movie from Lau Kar Leung--not like My Young Auntie was great, this is simpler and probably more successful for it (though also less ambitious.) The whole of the conflicts of the movie are provided via different kung fu schools defending their honor--nearly every fight stems from Gordon Liu's school (he's playing Wong Fei-hung in this) or Kara Lui's school or the somewhat villainous school where Johnny Wang is employed. Except for once he isn't the villain--he's a visiting Northern master out to broaden his horizons by travelling among the Cantonese. He actually ends up tempering the more dishonest ambitions of the master of the school he's visiting, since he really believes in obeying the rules of kung fu. So the fights are exhibitions for the most part, nobody's out to kill each other and there's no blood coming from people's mouth and I'm pretty sure nobody got killed in this, but this made the martial action sort of more purely enjoyable for me. The final bit of sparring between Liu and Wang was incredible, and it ended in a stalemate, because kung fu isn't about winning anyway (I think that was the lesson.) And the opening had lion dancing on top of a platform carried by four or five guys, who were on top of a platform carried by eight or ten guys, who were on top of a platform carried by twenty guys--just an exciting, well-composed bit of cinema. Oh, and Kara Hui gets multiple chances to kick ass, including a couple of fights with Gordon. And it's all pure kung fu done for the sake of kung fu, so it doesn't always have the emotional impact of other kung fu movies, but Liu and Hui and Johnny Wang just on their own are a pleasure to watch.

No comments: