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Not Rated
Copyright 1980 Peace Film Productions
Reviewed by Andrew Borntreger on 12 March 2001

The Characters:  

  • No credits were provided and I am an American trying to spell Chinese names; this could get bumpy.
  • Au Chang - Young fighter who worked in the city; upon returning home he must find out what happened to his Godfather.
  • Siu Ming - Best friend to Au Chang and a monk, though not really cut out for the pious lifestyle involved. Killed by Au Chang.
  • Master - Old monk and mentor to Siu Ming, of course his kung fu is very powerful. He can even fight using two different styles at the same time! "Left hand Buddha Palm, right hand Buddha Fist!"
  • An Yuh - Barber that lost his job due to Au Chang, so he tags along. Not a very good fighter, but he does do all the cooking required. I refuse to draw any conclusions about their relationship from this.
  • Godfather - Au Chang's that is, he has the veins in his arms and legs torn out (Ouch!) before being killed.
  • Ass Yuh - She worked in the incense shop and only had a small part, but her name amused me. Sent to join Buddha.
  • The Hunchback - Evil restaurant owner who knows Holy Ghost Claw! Apparently a fighting style for those with serious arthritis. Killed when he is splashed with poisoned tea.
  • Chen Yang - Bad guy with the requisite physical defect, one of his feet is small and the other is large. Killed by Au Chang.

Buy It!

The Plot: 

"The Buddhist Fist" has a number of good points on which to recommend it, every one of them a nicely choreographed fight scene. It was blessed with a plot (of sorts), but if you want to watch some impressive old school then this is a keeper.

A number of "item fu" fight scenes are scattered throughout the movie. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this is when the combatants are either using a unusual item as a weapon (like a chessboard) or fighting around the item (like a birdcage). When done correctly it almost seems like a dance, the two warriors trading the item as they exchange blows. They pulled it off marvelously here, though the songbird looked a little perplexed and wigged out after his cage was tossed around.

We are first introduced to Au Chang and Siu Ming during their childhood. Even at such a young age it is obvious the young monk has a bad streak; he steals a potato and hands it off to Au Chang! This prompts a small horde of other children, evidently sons and daughters of the potato farmer, to pummel the thieves.

Years later the pair are well trained in their kung fu, but Au Chang is departing for the city to earn his fortune as a barber. Monks need a positive peer role model, so Siu Ming is soon framed for murder by a mysterious villain. Before modern police techniques were invented being framed for murder was surprisingly easy. A woman coerces the monk into drinking himself unconscious and then Chen Yang strangles her, leaving the body there with Siu Ming.

Meanwhile, the budding barber has his own troubles, namely a botched shaving job. Through a minor misunderstanding Au Chang shaves half the mustache from a violent customer and the resulting fight destroys the shop. Owners frown on you beating up the customers and damaging their property, so the unemployed barbers journey to Au Chang's village.

Things are looking bad on the home front; a masked fighter tried to steal the temple's jade Buddha statuette and Godfather has disappeared. It quickly becomes obvious that dark forces are at work. Strangers are trying to kill Au Chang! Assassins are hired to do him in and someone even puts a cute little green snake in his pocket. I think the snake was supposed to be poisonous, but maybe he had a snake phobia and they knew about it.

People in China must be constantly on the alert, because evidently a friendly greeting involves attacking someone to test their kung fu. Time after time when the childhood companions see each other they launch into a whirlwind of kicks and punches. Next time you see an old pal try taking a swing at him, show how cultured you have become.

DISCLAIMER: Don't coldcock your friend you moron, I was joking.

The bad guys are exposed and a climactic battle takes place between the two friends, with the monk pulling a potentially fatal punch in the end and letting Au Chang kill him. As noted, it is just an excuse to set up different fight scenes. I love seeing them choose different styles and, of course, announce which one. "Drunken Buddha" countered by "Furious Buddha" and so forth. With all the kung fu he invented you get to wondering when Buddha had time to start a religion.

Things I Learned From This Movie: 

  • Beware of little boys bearing sweet potatoes as gifts.
  • Old kung fu masters are kept tethered to priceless works of art as a sort of cheap security system.
  • Don't nod off in the barber's chair.
  • Sometimes Chess requires kung fu.
  • Buddha frowns on people who steal potatoes.
  • Knowing how to fight with a bamboo pole is great, unless the other guy is using a steel polearm.
  • Old kung fu masters rock.
  • Even in a language with thousands of unique characters spelling mistakes can happen.

Stuff To Watch For: 

  • 2 mins - Kid fu?
  • 17 mins - I am having problems accepting disco music as an appropriate musical score for this movie.
  • 20 mins - So those are the ancient Chinese laws covering cow rape...
  • 31 mins - Somewhere, in some ancient tome, somebody must have stated that eating the pieces is against the rules.
  • 40 mins - Narrow forehead? Maybe you should look again.
  • 52 mins - "I'll hit you so hard that I'll knock that hunch off your back!"

 Audio clips in wav formatSOUNDSStarving actors speak out 

Green Music Note buddhafist1.wav The police captain explaining the laws governing bovine rape.
Green Music Note buddhafist2.wav Bad Guy: "Wait a minute, isn't it against the law to beat up a monk?"
Green Music Note buddhafist3.wav Master: "I've watched your kung fu and I'm surprised, it's near perfection. Actually, Buddha Palm and Fist are the same origin. Left hand Buddha Palm, right hand Buddha Fist!"
Green Music Note buddhafist4.wav Siu Ming: "Furious Buddha!"

 Click for a larger imageIMAGESScenes from the movie 


 Watch a sceneVIDEOMPEG video files 

Video Clipbuddhafist1.mpg - 2.8m
Au Chang greets his old friend with a furious attack. Gotta love the windmill blocking system that Siu Ming uses.

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