The Invincible Kung Fu Legs (1980)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2009-05-16
Dorian Tan Tao-Liang and Ha Kwong-Li, bootmasters extraordinary, make it easy to ignore the many drawbacks in “The Invincible Kung Fu Legs”. She is attractive, a decent enough actress and looks as if she could kick the moon out of the sky. He is attractive, a poor actor and is to the art of kicking in martial arts movies what Rembrandt was to painting or Beethoven to music. An entire movie of the two of them strutting their stuff would be a delight but since that wasn’t available “The Invincible Kung Fu Legs” with all its dreadful acting, unfunny comedy and boring cinematography will have to do.

Some of the comedy works. Physical comedy, in this case losing one’s pants, falling face first into a bowl of fruit or being stuck in an embarrassingly exposed position translates better than verbal humor like puns or irony. It takes athleticism, graceful movement and exact timing. But a little of it goes a long way. One might find the first pie in the face funny, the fifth less so. By the one-hundredth, definitely not. An early example has the spoiled Phoenix treated like puppet by her imperious teacher who relaxes eating grapes while casually operating a system of pulleys and ropes that tug and twist Phoenix into the various forms and stances his method requires. It is a good conceit, introducing Phoenix, her sycophantic servant and the hyper-confident and competent sifu. The master doesn’t break a sweat, the servant stumbles from one disaster to the next and Phoenix gets helplessly entangled in the ropes. It is funny at first, then becomes boring then annoying—and is one of the better non-fighting sequences in the movie.

All that aside however—we are here to see Tan and Ha kick up a storm, exactly what they do throughout the film. An early confrontation in the marketplace is sublime, with both of them immobilizing thuggish bullies. Ha uses her height to great advantage—her axe kick coming from above to land on a head or shoulder and able, it seems, to kick down on anyone. Tan can do anything involving his legs—here his side kick stops with the blade of his foot against an assailant’s throat. This is a typical move in action movies but Tan executes it with such grace, speed and (one must say) elegance that it looks new.

The opening sequence features the two stars joined by others in the cast demonstrating some astonishing leg fighting moves. 90 minutes of this would have been just about right.

Difficult to put a number on this—it is at least a nine for the action scenes but the rest of it would barely register.
Reviewer Score: 6