Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Leg Fighters AKA Invincible Kung Fu Legs

Plot: Fight-era China. Mistress Phoenix (Ha Kwong-Li) and Chin Lung, her bumpkin "sidekick" (see what I did there?), are lazy and unwilling students of wily Master Mo (Sun Jung-Chi, in old man makeup). When the Master is called away, the Patriarch of the house replaces him with Northern Leg Tan Hi Chi (Tan Tao Liang), master of the kick of the same name. Much hilarity ensues - actually , that's a lie, very little hilarity ensues, just attempts at it - as Tau eventually cajoles, bullies and mocks the Mistress into accepting him as her master. This is timely, as the Super Fox master of the Ground Kick, Peng Pak, is out for revenge for his brother's death at the hand's of Master Mo. Meanwhile Mistress helps to clean the town of the local toughs, led by the astonishingly daft Ding Dong and Dong Dong, who are possibly the only handbell-themed villains in Cinema history (Giallo fans correct me if I'm
wrong here) and their iron-armout master Tsai Hung. All comes to a head in showdowns involving Mo, Tan, Mistress, the Bell brothers and finally the Peng Pak. Can the combined might of the Mo and Tan kicks beat the Ground Kick? I'll give you a clue: yes. But by Jove, it's worth watching how.

Plateau for challenges? Check. Tearoom fight? Check. Inventive training sequences? 
Check. Big front gates that get kicked open? Check. Ocean shores logo during key
fight scene? Check. Something for everybody here, people. The plot flows quite well
except for the truly rubbish 'comedy' scenes - think Benny Hill but without the
charm, timing, or actual comedy. And there are too many of them. But that's the
only gripe, so just lean heavy on the visual search at these points. Or if you have time, edit them out completely using iMovie.

Worth noting is the excellent intro sequence in which the scene is set between the different kicking styles, with a neat studio demo of each exceitingly-named technique - "Enetering Heaven", "Throat kick", and a hilarious overture where the voiceover is at odds with the translated text.

Great use of Texan drawl, Sarf-Lahndan Cockernee, and what sounds like the slower-
witted members of Top Cat's gang.

It's Tan Tao Liang. We love Tan Tao Liang. Even when he's in the credits as "Tarn Daw Liang". Expect the trademark lightning left leg, sidekicks held at steep angles for ages, vicious combos, and his slow-burning fuse. The only weak fight in the film is at the tearoom, and it's not bad as a comedy fight - but anything with Flash Legs is dynamite. The bundle against 'Iron Armor' exponent Tsai Hung is very well-edited with use of immediate flashbacks to show some in-fight strategising to defeat the invincible defence. The Tau 'throat kick' technique is as nasty as it sounds as is used often and well.

Mistress Phoenix throws some spirited kicks, and has a decent weapons lesson from Tan involving short sticks and longstaff. But this is all an amuse-bouche for the main course, the incredible one-on-one then two-on-one tear up finale. This is a superb contrast of kicking styles between Master Tau's high section combos, and Peng Pak's tunmling, rolling ground kick techniques. When the student's join their master to help him, Peng Pak produces the vicious nine birds style, with avian shapes and sound effects! An absolute cracking barney, with a cavalcade of corruscating kicks met with a blistering bombardment of brutal boot. Really one of *the* great end fights for boot fans.

Overall: 3.5/5, the end fight means it's a must, and there's a good smattering of training and sub-boss fights. But be prepared to yawn through some ponderous comedy interludes to get there.

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