Legendary Weapons of China (1982)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2009-06-13
Summary: A traditional weapons lover's dream film...
Legendary Weapons of China is Liu Chia-Liang's homage to the traditional styles and tools of battle of Chinese kung fu. The plot is historically based and centers around the conflict that arose when China was invaded by foreigners looking to exploit the riches found there? How does a culture and people normally trained in hand to hand combat deal with the introduction of seemingly unbeatable firearms into the situation? Liu Chia-Liang's character (Lui Gung) once ran a Maoshan (Taoist magic) school before realizing that no amount of mysticism was going to save young men from being shot with a bullet. Considered a traitor, he is hunted by three schools that still believe in the spiritual ability to become impervious to all weapons. Tien Hao (Hsiao Ho) is sent from the Magic Fighter school, also known as the Earth Clan. Ti Tan (Gordon Liu) is sent from the Spiritual Boxers, aka the Heaven Clan. Unbeknownst to him, another Spiritual Boxer, Fang Shau Ching (Kara Hui), travels to find Lui Gung, agreeing in principle with his disbanding of the mystical schools in order to save lives. Finally, Lui Gung's own brother (and Liu Chia-Liang's real brother Lau Kar-Wing) is sent from the Maoshan school. They all arrive and must battle their own beliefs as well as Lui Gung.
Although not at the level of Liu Chia-Liang's masterpiece 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, Legendary Weapons of China is still an excellent film. The ideas behind it are intriguing, and additional research into the Boxer Rebellion and Maoshan Taoism is a must. The acting is quite good, with a nod to Alexander Fu Sheng for his scenes as a con man who will impersonate anyone for money. Unfortunately, a few of his scenes run a bit long and distract the viewer from the main plot of the story, namely the conflict between spiritualistic and traditional fighting arts. The action doesn't really start to get going until the last quarter of the movie, but when it does it is as good as anything that has been put on screen before. Obviously, the true highlight is the climax in which Liu Chia-Liang battles all comers with the 18 traditional weapons. Hsaio Ho, Kara Hui and Lau Kar-Wing are all terrific in their scenes as expected. Gordon Liu is also great, but has a relatively small amount of screen time. To peak your interest, the weapons used in the finale are: Rope Dart, Double Tiger Hook Swords, Double Hammers, Double Axe, Snake Halberd, Kwan Dao (Chinese Pole Arm), Twin Sabres, Straight Sword, Single Sabre, Tassle Spear, 3-Section Chain Whip, Double Daggers, Double Crutch, Monk's Spade, Staff, 3-Pronged Fork (Trident), 3-Sheet Blades (Butterfly Swords) and the 3-Section Staff.

Reviewer Score: 8