Shaolin legend Fong Si Yu poorly served in weak kung fu film
THE INVINCIBLE KUNG FU TRIO is an unusually shoddy kung fu adventure that wastes the talents of three significant genre performers-Meng Fei, John Liu and Angela Mao-and does great disservice to the oft-filmed legend of Shaolin warrior Fong Si Yu. Shot in Taiwan on an extremely low budget, the film takes up the tale of Shaolin students Fong Si Yu and Hung Si Kwan (joined here by a third comrade, Lu Ka Chai) and their efforts to battle Ching oppressors. Their chief antagonist is the Abbot of Wutang who makes it his job to get rid of the three heroes and actually comes up with a clever plan to do so. He creates three exact doubles of the heroes and trains them to fight their counterparts. The Abbot, played by Kam Kong, is dark-haired in some shots and white-haired and white-browed in others. No explanation is given for the transition. Nor is there any explanation of what technology he employs to make perfect doubles of the lead trio.
Meng Fei previously played Fong Si Yu in the far superior PRODIGAL BOXER (also reviewed on this site). Additional films on Fong and Hung were done at Shaw Bros. where Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan Chun specialized in the roles, as in the similarly titled THE INVINCIBLE KUNG FU BROTHERS (1976, aka SHAOLIN AVENGERS, also reviewed on IMDB). Meng Fei, John Liu and Angela Mao are all seen to much better effect in numerous other films. (Angela has only one short fight scene here.)
The fights are actually not badly staged, but are undermined by the zoom-crazy cameraman and the cut-happy editor. Fights often shift locations inexplicably from one shot to the next. Most of the fights aren't even finished before the editor cuts to the next, usually unrelated, scene, which often features someone who was in the fight. Scenes are generally quite short, although there's one long festival scene that seems to go on forever, with lion and snake dances that have nothing to do with the story. There are all sorts of extraneous sound effects, such as animal sounds that have nothing to do with the style of kung fu being presented (e.g. a cow's `moo' during one maneuver). The sounds of a train locomotive accompany one maneuver. Chen Kuan Tai (BOXER FROM SHANTUNG, EXECUTIONERS FROM SHAOLIN) is given top billing in the credits, yet he doesn't appear anywhere in the film.
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