Monday, March 16, 2009

Review: Kung Fu vs. Yoga (1979)

Kung Fu vs. Yoga is a fun flick full of fights and foolishness. The movie follows the adventures of "kung fu brothers" Tiger (Chin Yuet-Sang) and Wu Shing (Alan Hsu). It starts out with a great fight sequence between Tiger & Wu Shing practicing their kung fu, using various weapons including spear, dual swords, and bola (a rope with weights at each end, swung and released to ensnare the opponent). Just as it seems like Wu Shing will defeat Tiger using his "Hen's Claw" technique, we see that Tiger is actually dreaming all this, as he jumps up out of bed, smashing his head through the top bunk, waking his father up in the process. Tiger, dumbfounded after being beaten by the inferior Wu Shing in his dream, gets up to look for his kung fu manual. Meanwhile, his father groggily climbs down from the bunk to see what the commotion is all about. Tiger finds the manual stashed away in a pot, hastily pulls it out, and smacks his father in the head knocking him unconscious. Tiger, in an attempt to revive his fallen father, cannot find any water, so he dumps a piss pot on his father's face to wake him up. You can already see what kind of humor this one will be filled with! Anyway, his father, pissed off after being pissed on, has had enough of Tiger's shenanigans, and sends him off to live in the city with his Uncle Pang. Tiger packs up his things and leaves, running into Wu Shing outside. Wu Shing challenges Tiger and Tiger easily outduels him. Wu Shing then begs Tiger to let him accompany him to the city to learn kung fu, and off they go...

After they arrive at Uncle Pangs, we'll jump ahead about 15 minutes (during which they have a comical fight against a blind monk). Wu Shing runs into the Uncle's shop and grabs Tiger, and they run off. It seems that Wu Shing has entered a kung fu contest against the town's three best martial artists at the town square. Well, having lackluster skills, he gets taken out rather easily. Tiger decides to jump into the contest on behalf of Wu Shing, and with his impressive kung fu, he takes them all out in three short but sweet fights involving some nice weapon play. A fourth, masked female opponent jumps onto the stage and challenges Tiger. He defeats and unmasks her, revealing a beautiful woman. Her father, who apparently arranged the contest, stands up and reveals that for winning, Tiger has won her (Lady Ting) hand in marriage! Needless to say, Tiger is surprised, and Ting is appalled at having to marry such a poor fellow like Tiger, but the father says they must go through with it, and they do. Cut to wedding night, and Tiger is anxious to consummate the marriage! Lady Ting says before that will happen, Tiger has to complete three tasks, and she doesn't want to see him until they are. Naturally, she believes them to be impossible. Well let's find out, shall we?

The first task is to head to the temple and steal a kung fu manual from an ornery monk. They get to the temple, and find the monk sleeping (with his eyes open) on a big stack of small pots. They figure the manual is in one of the pots under him, so they begin poking and prodding him to get him to move off certain pots so they can open them. They wake him up before finding the manual and he beats on them a little demanding to know what they are doing. They give him a B.S. story and leave to formulate a new plan of attack. They come back later and this time he's lying in wait. The monk jumps up with the kung fu manual in hand saying "Is this what you're looking for?!" and begins to attack them. This movie has terrible dubbing, and during this fight we hear the following:

Tiger: "Why don't you quit while we're still feeling kind?
You never know, you might drop... down dead!"
Monk: "Balls... BALLS! I shall beat you both!"

Eventually, after a long dragged out fight, Wu Shing grabs the manual out of the monk's robe while Tiger has him distracted. They then beg for mercy, and the monk lets them go. After they are gone he realizes the manual is gone, and jumps into the air in rage. This is the perfect opportunity for a classic KFC¹: The Freeze Frame. Wu Shing delivers the monk's manual to Ting, and comes back exhausted (hmmm...) and falls asleep...

Next they set off for the second task. This task requires them to go to a brothel and retrieve the pieces of jade that a certain prostitute wears. They get to the whorehouse, and tell the madame they are looking for the girl named "Di." "Ah, I know the one!" she says, and has them take a number. Tiger's number is called, and he makes the least expensive incense purchase. Apparently, the length of time his incense burns is the amount of time he gets to spend with the girl. He gets to her room, and lights the incense. Of course it burns out quicker than a firecracker fuse, and he's out of there before he can get his shirt off. Next it's Wu Shing's turn. Tiger has him buy the biggest incense, and up the stairs he goes. Well he rock's Di's world, but finds no jade. Downstairs, Tiger finds out there's another "Di" and they go upstairs to find her. Wu Shing follows her into a room for round two, and finds out that she is actually a HE! This leads to the fight for HIS jade. They fight for a while, and Tiger & Wu Shing end up tearing off Di's clothes to get the jade pieces (ending in The Freeze Frame, of course!). After they leave, they have the following conversation...

Wu Shing: "Hey Tiger, how will he get home without his clothes?"
Tiger: "Damn, I don't care! Couldn't give a fish's tit!"

...and Wu Shing this time
delivers the jade to Ting, since she won't see Tiger until the tasks are completed. Once again, Wu Shing comes back exhausted (HMMMM...) and falls asleep!

On to the last task. This time they have to steal the ruby from a yoga master's turban. Finally, here comes the Kung Fu vs. Yoga that the title refers to! And boy is it worth the wait. It takes Tiger & Wu Shing three attempts before they can finally outsmart to yoga master, but they finally get the ruby. These fights are amazing! The yoga master's flexibility and extreme contortionism make this the most innovative fight sequence I've ever seen. I'm not even going to try to explain the fights because words can't do them justice. I will post a YouTube video of the fight since it is a MUST SEE. So, mission accomplished! Off to tell wifey!

They get back, and walk up some stairs to Ting's house. Tiger is all sorts of excited to finally see her again! He calls for her as they walk to the house, and what... she comes out holding the hand of a young child, and also pregnant! Apparently the timeline of the story was over a couple years even though it seemed like a few days! Ting tells the child to say hello to father. Tiger, finally realizing that the children are Wu Shing's (hence his exhaustion after delivering the monk's manual and the prostitutes jade!), delivers a strong punch to Wu Shing, leading to.... you guessed it... The Freeze Frame! THE END.

This was a fairly mediocre film leading up to the superb finale. It had a lot of fights, most of which were entertaining. Like I said before, the final fight is a must see. It is worth watching the whole movie just to see that fight alone. The humor was pretty off the mark, mainly due to the subpar dubbing, which took a bit away from the film for me. Also the ending was not a surprise at all, as it was quite obvious how things were going to pan out at the end when they dropped the first hint. Overall, I enjoyed the film, but if I ever pop the DVD in again it will most likely be to rewatch the final fight scene.

2½ out of 5 Venoms

¹KUNG FU CLICHES: Horrible dubbing, the Freeze Frame, potty humor.

Yoga Master Battle (From French dub)

"Buddha bless you..."


Hal C. F. Astell said...

Nice review and nice blog!

I saw this film on the big screen last night and loved it. Yeah, the fights with the yogi are the ones that are going to stay with me but I enjoyed a lot of the buildup to them too.

In case you're interested, my review is here:

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