Kung Fu Fridays: Chinese Super Ninjas

We now conclude our summer series with the best Kung Fu flick ever made!

Chinese Super Ninjas aka Chinese Super Ninja aka Five Element Ninjas is, without question, my favorite Kung Fu film of all time. Released in 1982 by the Shaw Bros., it was one of the last big, bloody, fight movies to come out of Hong Kong. Comedy martial arts flicks were gaining traction, thanks especially to Jackie Chan, and the audience’s desire for the over the top, bloody violence of the past was waning. As such, Chinese Super Ninjas did not do well at the box office. It seemed doomed to be forgotten, overshadowed by the absolute gems that had come before and the silly, more family friendly action that rose to prominence during the mid to late 80’s. (proving once again that the 80’s, despite what some would have you believe, were in fact, for the most part, terrible) 

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Kung Fu Fridays: The Street Fighter

That right there boys and girls, is Sonny Chiba.

One of the baddest men to walk the planet. A military brat who almost made the Japanese Olympic team, Chiba achieved worldwide success through the film The Street Fighter. No, the film has nothing to do with the game, or the film based on the game, or the game based on the film based on the game. (though the film is available in its entirety in the game The Darkness on any TV found in that game world) What The Street Fighter is is a really well done martial arts flick, a staple in many top ten lists, and an incredibly violent movie whose cult following was helped no doubt by Quentin Tarantino’s decision to not only cast Chiba as Hatori Hanzo in Kill Bill but this as well…

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Kung Fu Fridays: The Mystery of Chess Boxing

The Ghost Face Killer is a man out for revenge.

Released in 1979, and also know as Ninja Checkmate, The Mystery of Chess Boxing is one of the most storied Kung Fu films to ever make its way stateside. It was released on 42nd St in NYC. During the late 70’s 42nd St was a mecca for Grindhouse films. The story goes that The Mystery of Chess Boxing was so popular that it played in various theaters for over two years! For a Kung Fu film, not with a high budget and not starring Bruce Lee, to have a run that long is saying something. Perhaps it was the fights, deliberate and beautiful, perhaps it was the abysmal voice over, it really is terrible for the most part, or perhaps it was the blend of traditional and comedy stylings that was all the rage during this time period. Or maybe the reason it stayed around so long, and the one I hold to, is because of the Ghost Face Killer.

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Kung Fu Fridays: 8 Diagram Pole Fighter/Invincible Pole Fighter

If you’ve ever wondered why the bo staff is the coolest weapon a martial artist can use…

Based on the generals of the Yang family, a Cantonese legend, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter was released in 1983 by the legendary Shaw Brothers  and starred the absolutely incredible Godon Liu. (most readers will recognize him as Pei-Mei from Kill Bill vol.2 and Johnny Mo from Kill Bill vol.1) The film, known as Invincible Pole Fighter outside of Hong Kong, was hit with tragedy as Liu’s costar, Alexander Fu Sheng, was killed in a car accident before filming wrapped. 

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Kung Fu Fridays: Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow

Jackie Chan is the kung fu version of Groucho Marx

Directed by Woo-Ping Yeun and hitting theaters in 1978, Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow made a star of Jackie Chan and introduced the world to two things that would become staples of Kung Fu cinema; one, the notion of the kung fu movie as comedy and two, animal style kung fu being one of the greatest things in the history of makind. While Chan had been in a few films before this, the attempt to make him into the new Bruce Lee failed miserably.

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