Top 10 Bizarre Kung Fu Films
Martial Arts film can be artful and stunningly beautiful, and they can have pulse-pounding action. Sometimes, however they can be downright weird. Some of this weirdness can be blamed on cultural differences, or jokes that don’t translate well, much of it has no excuse at all. If you’re into the tragically bizarre, here’s ten flicks you shouldn’t miss.
A frequent addition to $5.99 Kung Fu movie box sets, “Swordsman with an Umbrella” gives you exactly that: A swordsman out for revenge, who totes around a Japanese style umbrella. While this isn’t to strange in itself, the weirdness factor gets turned up when he uses this umbrella to fly Mary Poppins style, or throws it like a Frisbee at his enemies, accompanied by goofy cartoon sound effects. Keep in mind this movie is NOT a comedy, or at least not meant to be.
Starring popular Jackie Chan collaborator Yuen Biao, and “Bride with White Hair” star Bridgette Lin, “Deadful Melody” tells the story of a haunted Lyre (A musical Instrument similar to a harp) that can kill when the right notes are played. In a Memorable final battle Bridgette Lin’s character uses the Lyre to fight off an entire army, reducing them all to empty clothing with bizarre “magic bullets” fired from the lyre, all with pretty music being played over the screams of the dying.
Also Known as “The Invincible Kung Fu Master”. Star of TV’s “Martial Law” Sammo Hung stars in his breakout role as a fat master of martial arts who hones his student’s skill with “Food based” training. A memorable scene involves the famished hero trying to cross a slippery tile floor to get to his lunch before his master could finish eating it. Effective training indeed. Check out the Wu-tang clan’s Remastered DVD release complete with trailers and original Music Video.
While it’s an all out classic of martial arts film, “Duel to the death” is also one of the weirdest. In the film a Japanese master of the sword and a Chinese master of the sword seek to see who’s better, while a group of ninjas try to stop the duel by using some of the most bizarre tricks, such as merging together Voltron-style into a giant ninja, or transforming into a naked woman to distract a chaste monk. The film takes gore to unintentionally hilarious levels as the final villain is beheaded, the head then flies after the hero, gets impaled on a stick, says a line (“YOU WILL DIIIIIIEEEEE” if I recall correctly) then explodes!
Also Known as “Return of the Secret Rivals” and “Emperor of the Filthy Guy”. “Filthy guy” is another Sammo Hung vehicle that chronicles the rise one of the first emperors of the Chin Dynasty, who, for god knows why, was known for having serious scalp problems. If that’s not weird enough, throughout the film our hero uses his slimy, infected scalp as a weapon, forcing enemies to smell it, or using it to block sword blades and even break walls (for some reason his scalp disease makes his head seemingly invincible). One Memorable scene involves our hero waking up an entire monastery as he rings the two-ton temple bell with his head, to scratch an itch.
Before Steven Chow made two of the most watched Hong Kong films of all time, Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, he made this little gem. In the film Chow plays a hack celebrity chef who enters an epic cooking competition with his rival, kitchen utensils act as weapons, people turn into bulldogs, and it’s revealed that Steven chow was exiled from heaven for giving out God’s culinary secrets to Earth. Keep an eye for Steven Chow’s flaming dumpling attack!
My brother found this diamond in the rough in the clearance bin at a Family Dollar in Orville Ohio and I consider it well worth his 99 cents. The Film has so much action it’s hard to even keep up with the complex story, but every fight scene is a goofy work of art in itself. Suffice to say in this movie you’ll see Ninjas douse themselves in acid to attack the good guys, a ninja that fights with steak knives, and one transforming into what appears to be a flying picnic blanket to attack his enemy. You’ll also see a man who gets his power by absorbing women while they’re making love, and a ninja that’s a dead ringer for Adolf Hitler wearing cat ears.
A great pick for a Halloween, this Chinese Zombie film features “hopping” zombies from Chinese folklore, and the magicians who’s job it is to put them back in the ground. The opening sequence sets the stage for what is to come: An amateur magician uses hand-written spells to take control of a group of zombies and makes them do a calypso dance number. Later in the movie you’ll see a group of children fighting to protect a “baby Zombie” and return it to his zombie parents, and a duel between two magicians who constantly sick the zombie hordes on each other as well as throwing magical frogs and butterflies from the tips of their swords.
Also Known as “The New Legends of Shaolin. This Jet Li Vehicle is a loose remake of the Japanese series “Lone wolf and Cub” with Jet Li fighting bad guys with son in tow. The Film is one of the best of Jet Li’s early career, and it’s choc full of weird. You’ll see two dart throwing masters begin fighting with loogies, Jet Li’s magical spear that uses super moves like“Wonder Screw” and a group of five year old Martial arts masters taking on a sword wielding Eunuch. Not weird enough for you yet? Keep in mind that the guy who Jet Li burns to death in the beginning comes back to life as a charred zombie, who (And I’m not kidding) transforms into a car. Dragon Dynasty has a great version of this film, but if you want things even more crazy, get the older release with all the poorly translated subtitles, “I’m gonna eat that chicken’s ass!”.
Also Known as “Dragon Attack”. With Jackie Chan, Brigitte Lin, TV Star Adam Cheng and One armed swordsman star Jimmy Wang Yu, this movie packs some serious star power, but I’m sure most of these people would rather forget it ever happened. Watching a film this weird you wonder what the Film makers were thinking. It seems to be an attempt at remaking the Dirty Dozen, where a general hires a group of misfits that include a Hobo, an escape artist and a biker chick with a Bazooka,. to rescue the military commanders of several different countries (including the “African” general, an obviously Chinese man with brown shoe polish on his face who uses phrases like “Soul Brother”) that were taken prisoner by Nazis. The final scene shows that these “Nazis” are actually hundreds of bandage-gear clad road warrior types who ride on the back of Dodge Chargers with swastikas painted on the side. This description is entirely inadequate at capturing the sheer weirdness of this movie, it has to be seen to be believed. You’ll find yourself so overcome with the absurdity of this movie you’ll laugh out loud.
Honorable Mention: Kung Fu Zombie, Shaolin Vs Evil Dead, Chinese Hercules and The Duel