Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Issue #130a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES October 21st, 2002

The Buddhist Fist
(1980; Peace Film Production Co.)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Fat jeung lo hon kuen
Mandarin: Fo zhang luo han quan
English: Buddha Palm Disciple of Buddha Fist

One of director Yuen Woo-ping's lesser works, THE BUDDHIST FIST still features some excellent martial arts and will please most fans of old school genre films. Bumbling barber Shang (Yuen Shun-yee) gets fired from his job and sets out across the countryside to visit his father. Upon arriving home, he is unable to find the man but does encounter his childhood friend, Si-ming (Tsui Siu-ming), who is now a monk. Both men were raised by the same Shaolin master and are martial arts experts. A while back, Si-ming violated his vows by getting drunk and was framed for rape and murder. Now, he is being forced to commit criminal acts by a mysterious figure who threatens to reveal Si-ming's crimes to the public. After assassins try to kill him, Shang learns from a policeman that his father had discovered a plot hatched by foreigners to steal some of China's treasures. The man blackmailing Si-ming is also part of the scheme and Shang faces a difficult decision when he learns of his friend's involvement.

Neither the story nor the characters are as interesting as their counterparts in Yuen's other work from this period. However, the kung fu is up to standard (particularly an extended duel between Yuen Shun-yee and Lee Hoi-sang) and veterans Simon Yuen Siu-tien (the Yuen clan's famous father, best known in the West for playing Jackie Chan's slovenly teacher in SNAKE IN THE EAGLE'S SHADOW and DRUNKEN MASTER; click here for a still) and Fan Mui-sang are quite appealing in supporting roles. David Wu Ta-wai (the HK actor/director/composer, not to be confused with the like-named Taiwanese actor), Peter Chan Lung, Yuen Cheung-yan, and Dai Sai Aan also appear.

Cover art courtesy Tai Seng.

Yuen Shun-yee. Image courtesy Tai Seng.
Tai Seng #75073 (U.S. Label)

Dolby Digital 1.0

Cantonese, Mandarin, and English Language Tracks (all post-synched)

11 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Stills

Letterboxed (1.85:1; cropped from 2.35:1)

Macrovision Encoded

Coded for ALL Regions

86 Minutes

Contains moderate martial arts violence and coarse language

DVD menu courtesy Tai Seng.

Great Britain: 18
Ontario: PG
Singapore: PG

An unauthorized version of THE BUDDHIST FIST was released on DVD a while back by Arena/Xenon but has since been withdrawn. Tai Seng's slightly squeezed rendition cropboxes the original 2.35:1 frame at 1.85 but the compositions usually still look symmetrical. The image is somewhat undermatted, causing the splice line to be visible at shot change points, but the picture looks sharp and clear. Like all low-budget HK productions from this period, the filmstock and lab work are variable. A few sequences look grainy and colors are a little pale throughout but the presentation is generally pleasing. The source print has a few scratches, including two prominent white ones along the left side of the screen during the opening 10 minutes (see the grab featuring Simon Yuen), and light speckling but is acceptable. Tai Seng's version includes English, Cantonese, and Mandarin tracks but no subtitle options, alas. The dubbing is pretty awful but no worse than usual; the English track sounds adequate, while the Chinese ones are a bit muffled. The DVD also includes a Yuen Woo-ping bio/filmography and trailers for WING CHUN (domestic video spot), TAI CHI II (for International English markets), the company's SHAOLIN CLASSICS SERIES (THE DESCENDENT OF WING CHUN, SHAOLIN AVENGERS, LEGEND OF THE DRUNKEN TIGER), Yuen Woo-ping's IRON MONKEY (domestic video spot for Tai Seng's now-discontinued edition), and the original Cantonese preview for THE MIRACLE FIGHTERS.

Having problems printing this review with Netscape? Go to the File option in the Netscape Task Bar, click the Page Setup from the sub-menu and make sure that in the Page Options listings, the Black Text box is clicked. This should resolve the "no text" printing problem.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2002. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com