Subpar production from Hong Kong's Poverty Row...too few fights
Yang Sze (Bolo Yeung) is nowhere to be found in "Kung Fu Massacre", so I'm not sure why he's credited...but the film does star Charles Heung ("Mysterious Footworks of Kung Fu", "The Goose Boxer") as a rather hotheaded, inexperienced hero. Heung's co-star is Jin Fu Wan, an older actor with the unchanging, somehow sinister expression of a cigar store Indian. They're both after the richest man in town: Heung because his family was murdered by the wealthy man, Jin because the same unpleasant fellow stole his wife and framed him for a robbery. The female lead is the stunningly pretty Tina Chin Fei. "Kung Fu Massacre" is long on poorly-dubbed dialogue and short on fight scenes, and even when a fight does break out it's invariably a lackluster affair. It's as though the cast and crew just didn't have their hearts in this production. The villain uses a sanchaku (like a three-sectional staff, but the sticks are shorter) when he finds himself losing to Heung in the climactic duel, but that's about as interesting as the choreography gets. Having watched Chinese martial arts films pretty much nonstop since 1983, I must admit that there's a perverse, weary pleasure in seeing the same scenario played out over and over again, often against the same backdrop (the final reel of "Kung Fu Massacre" was filmed in the barren, rocky landscape with muddy lake that seasoned chop-socky fans will recognize from numerous Shaw Brothers productions, as well as independent films like "Fist of Unicorn", "The Chinese Godfather", "The Bloody Fight", and "Two Graves to Kung Fu") with a slightly different cast each time. It's a surreal experience, one that bears more than a passing resemblance to 'Shadow Play', that classic episode of "The Twilight Zone" in which Dennis Weaver dreams repeatedly that he has been sentenced to die in the electric chair. The little details change from night to night, but the dream remains fundamentally the same. These films represent a world unto themselves--a world of humid skies and recurring landscapes of rock and steep pine-covered hills, where it is the eternal duty of the characters to seek vengeance--and they exert a peculiar fascination. This strange magic is evident even in individual films bedeviled by mediocrity, like "Kung Fu Massacre".
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