Wong Fei-hung is trying to run his martial arts school while the master is away and fulfill their dream of expelling the foreigners, along with his men – strong Porky Wing, stuttering bilingual So, and guy without qualities Kai – but everyone keeps getting mad at him. Scarface and his Shaho gangsters terrorize the town, burn down the school, and kidnap Wong’s young 13th Aunt to sell to the Americans. After causing much trouble Scar ends up thrown in a furnace by his kidnappees. The British and Chinese governments want Wong arrested. Then mercenary superfighter Iron Vest Yim comes to town, gains a disciple in fired theater worker Foon, and keeps challenging Wong. He ends up shamed for his hidden knife technique, roundly defeated in ladder combat, then murdered by the whites. The Brits have their own kung fu champ, who takes a Wong-thrown bullet to the brain – victory.

Our series stars: Jet Li, who wasn’t anybody until this came out, and Rosamund Kwan, who’d been in the Jackie/Sammo/Lucky Stars group. I didn’t realize the disciples wouldn’t be regulars – Porky Wing (Kent Cheng Jak-Si of Sex & Zen and Crime Story) will return in part 5. Jacky Cheung, in the middle of his WKW era, had better prospects than playing Bucktooth So. Yuen Gam-Fai (Kai) continued playing guys without qualities, hitting the height of 7th-billed-in-Burning Paradise. Iron Vest Yen Shi-Kwan is the evil master of Heroic Trio. His boy Foon is Yuen Biao, also from the Lucky Stars gang. And Scarface would appear in a Charlie Chan action-mystery called Madam City Hunter.

Porky, Kai, So, Jet, Rosamund:

The signage… it’s trying to tell us something:

Tony Rayns: Hark returned to HK from NY, made his three angry young man films (ahem), those made no money and he reinvented himself as a family entertainer in early 1980s with Zu and some comedies. Chose Jet Li from the mainland for his action skills and old-fashioned dignity. OUATIC is the English title, original is just Wong Fei-hung, and OUATIC2 is called Wong Fei-hung 2: A Man Must Rely on His Own Strength.

Ladderdance:

Hairknife:

Time for another Sammo Hung movie. This time he’s a butcher, introduced slipping on a banana peel, but the butcher job barely matters – mainly he’s a disciple of Wong Fei-Hung (Kwan Tak-Hing, who’d been playing Wong since the 1940s), innocently helping start a war with another school run by Lee Hoi-Sang (a fighter in Game of Death II). One of the rival school’s guys is evil Ko (Fung Hak-On of Police Story) who has kidnapped Sammo’s little brother’s wife. Meanwhile, a weird beggar gets some chickens drunk, turns out to be drunken master Fan Mei-Sheng (of The One-Armed Swordsman) with an interest in solving the kidnapping. Allies and rivalries get all mixed up, and there’s more crazy plot stuff and some brutal deaths, but we have come to watch great fighting performed with unusual weapons (I just saw the Ko fan fighter as the master in Encounters of the Spooky Kind II) against ludicrous villains (Mad Dog from Yes, Madam! appears here without the mustache as “Weird Cat”).

The brother and the drunken master:

Guess who:

Hey, about a month ago we hit our 4000th post, big congrats to us! That drum roll means we’ve got a winner. If you’re the fifth reader, or any reader at all, welcome to my top ten. I’d like to thank our sponsor, but we haven’t got a sponsor. Not if you were the last blog on earth.

Sammo Hung and his girl flee from her wicked brother into a spooky coffin house, where they’re menaced by a hopping vampire who just wants to smoke opium with them. You hire Ricky Lau after he’s made four consecutive Mr. Vampire movies, you get hopping vampires. This turns out to be Sammo’s dream, and in waking life the brother is friendly Little Hoi (Aspirin thief of Yes, Madam!). But all is not fine and dandy, since the girl’s rednosed dad is angry after Sammo fights an impertinent teahouse customer who uses mad monkey kung fu via his magician buddy. Sammo needs cash to make things right in order to marry Mimi Kung (Chow Yun-Fat’s wife in Office) but ends up getting tangled in ghost drama.

Master, Sammo, Little Hoi:

Not a continuation of the first Encounter from a decade earlier, but why did I write that it was my first Sammo Hung movie when I’d written about at least two others previously? Ghost Hung (Wong Man-Gwan of Prison on Fire) tries to help steal vases from Teahouse Sze (Andrew Lam of Sammo’s problematic Pantyhose Hero), but Sammo’s master Lam Ching-Ying (also the Mr. Vampire master) doesn’t like him hanging around ghosts and attacks her with his yin-yang yo-yo pokeball. This should all be leading up to a master magicians duel like in the first movie, but when it arrives they’re not even in the same space, a psychic battle across town, which is less immediately satisfying than the first movie’s courtyard tower firefight. Sammo spends some time with his soul in a pig. There’s a really unconvincing swordfight against menacing dogs. Kung-fu with explosive gas-filled mummies is more like it. Movie ends on a dick-sucking joke, perfect.

Sze, Evil Master, monkey:

I remembered the basics. Come Drink With Me star Cheng Pei-Pei is Jade Fox, Ziyi’s criminal master, who kills a whole bunch of people including, in the end, Chow Yun-Fat. Chang Chen, below, is Ziyi’s desert bandit lover Dark Cloud. Took long enough for this to be available in decent HD.

Petty thieves named Aspirin (Mang Hoi of Zu Warriors), Strepsil and Panadol accidentally end up with that secret microfilm that everyone in the 80’s was after. Wild-haired John Shum Kin-Fun and Tsui Hark must be buddies – they also costarred in RoboCop ripoff I Love Maria. Unfortunately for them, crime boss James Tien is after the microfilm, and supercop Michelle Yeoh and her British counterpart Cynthia Rothrock are on the case. This is in Criterion’s “Michelle Yeoh Kicks Ass” collection but the white lady kicks 70% more ass.

Cameos by three legends covered in sheetrock dust:

Tien in back with his two main henchmen:

Some of the most daredevil action ever filmed, with the all-time flimsiest setup (the cops say drug smuggling is out of hand, requiring some kind of “super cop,” so Jackie Chan is called in). Maggie is left behind to be annoying alone, while Jackie springs a criminal from prison to gain his trust, then Michelle Yeoh pretends to be Jackie’s sister and saves their asses when they get busted while undercover. It’s a 1992 action movie, which means there are bazookas, and really too many things get blown up. But damn, Yeoh jumps a motorcycle onto a moving train.

Jackie Chan is Wong Fei Hung, a versatile character last seen as a child in Millionaires’ Express, and previously in Once Upon a Time in China. Here he’s a prankster and scammer who needs to be taught discipline by his great drunken uncle. Jackie is put through weeks of tedious strength-training exercises, doesn’t see the point in it all until the final fight when he has internalized the teachings of the Eight Drunken Gods and he gets wasted and destroys the bounty hunters trying to murder his dad over a land deal. Karate Kid was a sober teen remake.

Wonder if I am the first person of 2022 to unsuspectingly watch this movie after buying the Party Dozen single.

New kid Jackie had started getting star roles in ’76. His drunken master Red-Nosed Su is the director’s dad Yuen Siu-Tien, also of Come Drink With Me and other films with drunky titles. Powerful hit-man Thunderleg is Hwang Jang-Lee of Game of Death II, and Jackie’s dad Lam Kau was in As Tears Go By.

Sammo plays a thief and killer and master bullshitter. Terrific opening scene – he finds a field of dead soldiers and loots their bodies, but they were only playing dead for a military game, stand up and capture Sammo, take him back to base and humiliate him, then he blows them all up.

The point is supposed to be a train robbery, but nobody can stand still long enough to wait for the train; buildings are burned down and a bank is robbed before it even arrives. Too many characters and factions to keep track of. James Tien was in there somewhere, and Rosamund Kwan of the Once Upon a Time in China series, and Hwang Jang-Lee (the “dead” friend/villain of Game of Death II). Wong Fei-hung is in this, meets his rival Kien, both as little kids. People can’t stop jumping out of two-story buildings. Whenever the pace is less than frantic, he simply speeds up the film… this is cheating, but the result is absolutely thrilling, so I’ll allow it.

No revisionist western is complete without one of these:

The protestors and prostitutes team up against the patriarchy:

Ma Yongzhen is a tough dude working shitty jobs with his useless friend Cheng Kang-Yeh. Ma is introduced beating up a landlord, so he’s got our sympathy, though he seems to beat up pretty much everyone he comes across… this is fine, since it’s established that everyone in town’s a crook. Ma has annoyingly high standards, is poor and homeless and will accept nothing from anyone – though as principled as he seems, his dream is to ride in his own carriage with a fancy cigarette holder. He wanders into a brutal gang fight and takes on 20 guys armed with knives and hatchets, which gains him the attention of the local bosses, beginning his brief, violent career in organized crime. He’s finally ambushed in a teahouse by Boss Yang (Nan Chiang) and takes a hatchet to the torso, but doesn’t go down before killing everyone in the room. Good action scenes – I could watch about 300 more of these movies, and fortunately that’s how many they made.

Ma and his idol David Chiang (Legend of the Seven Golden Vampires):

Scar-faced Boss Fan (Yi Feng of Fist of Fury the same year) and his yes-man: