THE MAGNIFICENT KICK - with Kwan Tak Hing as Wong Fei Hung
THE MAGNIFICENT KICK (1980) is a rather routine kung fu film enlivened by the presence of veteran performer Kwan Tak Hing in the role he was famous for, Wong Fei Hung, the legendary herbalist and martial arts instructor who lived from 1847-1924 (and has also been played onscreen by Gordon Liu, Jackie Chan and Jet Li). Kwan had played the role in a series of 99 films from 1949 to 1970, with cameo appearances as the character in a few more films thereafter. Although the actor was in his 70s here, he's quite fit and puts on some impressive kung fu displays during the film's first 25 minutes. The rest of the film features two of his students, Brother Zu and Brother Wing, who, in the course of a shopping trip to a distant village, get mixed up in a fight between the retired General Terh and members of the Fung Yuen Clan, particularly a pair of sisters whose father was killed by the General in a kung fu bout seen in the film's opening minutes. The sisters want to learn Wong Fei Hung's powerful kicking technique (hence the film's title) and they contrive to get Brother Zu to teach them. All this builds up to a final battle in which Zu and the older sister take on the General in an extended fight.
The plotting is awkward, to say the least, with one major character simply dropping out of the film without sufficient explanation, but the performers are all accomplished and the kung fu fights are very well staged. Jason Pai Piao plays Brother Zu and handles the bulk of the fighting chores. The actor who plays the chunky Brother Wing is very good also. (It's not clearly stated, but this character may be assumed to be the famous "Butcher Wing," a student of Wong Fei Hung who merited some starring films of his own including THE MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER, 1979, which featured Sammo Hung in the role.) Wong Hang Sau plays the older sister and is excellent as well. (She also made a strong impression in Lau Kar Leung's SHAOLIN MANTIS, also reviewed on this site.) Veteran fighting performer Han Ying Chieh plays the villainous General Terh. He'd earlier appeared in many of director King Hu's films and served as action director for Hu's A TOUCH OF ZEN and DRAGON GATE INN. Other familiar faces are on hand, most notably perennial villain Chiang Tao, who pops up for one brief fight only.
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