Sunday, November 7, 2010

Kung Fu Cult Master (1993)

Kung Fu Cult Master (Hong Kong, 1993) - Color, Director(s): Wong Jing
a.k.a. Evil Cult, Lord of the Wu Tang
MPAA Rating: NR
[UK: 15, Hong Kong: CAT II]
Approx. 99 min.

Z-rating: 9 out of 10 stars for super awesome Wire Fu with an excellent fantasy swordplay storyline

Jet Li is now an international superstar but before he made it big over here in the States, I was watching all of his wire-enhanced martial art extravaganzas to come out of HK. (When I was a kid, I associated Li with Wong Fei-Hong... thinking that both were one and the same) Jet Li was always a big star to me as I practically grew up on his Fong Sai Yuk and Once Upon a Time in China series. The first martial art move I remember wanting to master was the Foshan No Shadow Kick. (Shadowless Kick)  So it really shouldn't come as a surprise when I say that I'm a big time Jet Li fan.

Produced by and starring Li himself, this wuxia/martial art epic tells of two swords with the power to rule the martial arts world. (At least, that's what I think the story is about) Li plays Chang Mo-kei, whose parents are played by the GORGEOUS Sharla Cheung and super awesome Francis Ng. (who is always a pleasure to watch) On their way to meet up with an old Sammo Hung, who plays Francis Ng's teacher and Mo-kei's godfather, they're ambushed by a couple of hired guns that go by the Jinx Brothers. (One of them being played by the legendary Leung Kar-Yan) Mo-kei is hit with the deadly Jinx Palm during the struggle as the Jinx Brothers make their hasty retreat. Unable to cure him, they do their best to treat the injuries resulting from taking that palm strike. Mo-kei and his parents are eventually cornered by the six sects of the martial arts world that demand to know the location of one of the legendary swords. (There's a Heaven Sword and a Dragon Saber, if I'm not mistaken) Refusing to betray their comrade, both of Mo-kei's parent commit suicide in order to protect the whereabouts of their friend. He is taken in by Chang San-Fung (Sammo Hung) after the tragic death of his parents and also requires a daily transfer of energy from Hung to fight off the poison of the Jinx Palm.

Collin Chou plays a disciple of Chang San-fung who is jealous of the attention and daily transfer of energy Mo-kei receives from their teacher. Believing him to be useless (because he can't practice martial arts due to his injuries from the Jinx Palm), Collin's character sabotages Mo-kei and accidentally forces him off a cliff. He's not alone though as he has the company of another BEAUTIFUL young lady (Chingmy Yau) who, after finding out who he is, devotes herself to him. At the bottom of the cliff, there was some crazy old man embedded in a rock (Yeah, IN a rock) that teaches him some legendary Kung Fu that makes him nearly invincible and cures him of his illness from the Jinx Palm that he received. With his new found powers and martial arts abilities, he sets out to avenge his parents and inadvertently becomes the leader of an Evil Sect. (Ming Sect)

[Warning: This film ends on a bit of a cliffhanger and a sequel was never made because this one did poorly in theaters]

Nudity: None.

Gore: None. There was a bit of blood, but nothing gory.

Awesome: Totally. I am a HUGE fan of wire fu movies and this is about as good as they come. This movie blends awesome wire fu with a great fantasy story and is backed by an ensemble cast of Kung Fu movie greats. If you're looking for a complete martial arts movie with really intricate choreography that's comparable to Tony Jaa and the type of detailed martial arts choreography that he showcases in his films, you will be disappointed. While there is a decent amount of good martial arts choreography in this film (Sammo Hung also serves as the action choreographer), it is still a wuxia film in the end. I would compare this genre to the sword-and-sorcery genre of Western films, in that the focus isn't so much on the swordplay choreography but more on the fantasy world that they're building. Highly recommended for fans of the Once Upon a Time in China series, New Legend of Shaolin, and Swordsman 2.