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THE MAGNIFICENT KICK - with Kwan Tak Hing as Wong Fei Hung

Author: Brian Camp from Bronx, NY
24 November 2002

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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Lots of fighting and a very cool story! I loved it!

8/10
Author: sarastro7
18 January 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Brian Camp, IMDb's prime maven on kung fu movies, considers this movie to be "rather routine" as kung fu movies go, but personally I thought it was a lot better than that. The story is much like many others, but with notable variations that make quite a difference. This is one of the last movies of the kung fu genre's only true Grand Old Man, Tak-Hing Kwan, still starring in the role of the character he made famous on film, Wong Fei-Hung. Being in his 70s here, he only has limited screen (and fighting) time, but what little we get is enough to be grateful for.

Wong Fei-Hung is the ultimate Master, as accomplished morally as he is in his fighting skills. In this story, two of his students are sent on an errand to another village to buy herbs (Wong Fei-Hung is also a famous doctor). Now, when this sort of thing happens in most kung fu movies, the students are always hot-tempered and undisciplined and get involved in fighting, despite their master specifically pointing out that they shouldn't. Refreshingly, in this movie the students actually remain as entirely morally upstanding and level-headed as their master for most of the movie - until the temptation to impress some girls overwhelm them (which in different ways is both rather strange and very understandable - I suspect the students are simply being chivalrous). The girls are a couple of sisters who want nothing but revenge on a general who killed various members of their family, and the only way they can get it is by becoming better kung fu fighters than him. So they set in motion complicated plans to acquire the students' secret kicking technique, mainly by putting themselves in a position to watch them fight. When their plans fall apart and the girls tell the students the truth, however, the students opt to help teach the kicking style to them anyway! Seemingly without good reason, but, as I mentioned, it is probably because it was the chivalrous thing to do.

Contrary to the brutality of many kung fu movies, this one makes a point of upholding much of the moral purity of Wong Fei-Hung's legacy. Even when the students start teaching the forbidden kick to the girls, they don't actually teach them all of it, knowing that this would displease their master and his dedication to non-violence. Also, by the time they beat the guy the girls want revenge on, they actually follow Wong Fei-Hung's example and show mercy in the end, letting the bad guy (who's not all that bad) live!

In combination with the fact that the actors and actresses are attractive, the quality and amount of kung fu fighting is impressive throughout, and the story and characterization are good enough to ensure that there's never a dull moment, I don't think it's too much to pronounce this movie a true classic of the kung fu genre! It was certainly better than I had dared hope for.

8 stars out of 10!

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Magnificent Kick

5/10
Author: gorthu from United States
26 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a simple story of 2 girls out for revenge. Han Ying Chieh (the Big Boss from Bruce Lee's first movie) plays the evil government official the girls are after and 2 students of Wong Fei Hung help the girls defeat their enemy. The kung fu action is a little above average and it is literally non stop. Even though the story is extremely simple the movie is still a lot of fun because there is so much fighting. Kong Do has a great cameo fight. I was a bit disappointed that Kwan Tak Hing, Lau Hok Nin and Cheung Lik didn't get more screen time, but there is so much fighting that I can't really complain. The only problem I had was that none of the fights are really great, except maybe the short appearance that Kong Do makes. The final fight is a bit of a letdown.

Get the Brentwood version. It's partly wide and has good picture quality. Much better than the Videoasia version. It comes in a 10 pack called Kung Fu Crusade.

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