PRETTY GOOD KUNG-FU MOVIE 70/100
Fists of the White Lotus (73)
RUN RUN SHAW
SHAW BROTHERS STUDIO
JANUARY 1ST, 1980
Kung Fu movies have never been high on my list. In fact, It’s a genre I'd ignored. Not because I dislike ‘em. I never put time aside to examine these flicks. That being said, Fist of the White Lotus was a amazing feature that impressed the hell out of me. It has great fight scenes and stars some awesome Kung Fu stars like Lo Lieh, Gordon Liu Chia Hui and Johnny Wang Lung Wei. It also features the monk, Pai Mai. A character that had become popular in Quentin Tarantino's film Kill Bill. You might consider this to be a sequel to that feature.
Shaolin brothers, Hung Wei-Ting and Hu Ah-Piao are both being released from imprisonment after the emperor pardons their killing of the evil monk, Pai Mei. Mei was a member of the White Lotus Clan. A group that opposed the Shaolin. He was also a classmate of the leader the clan, White Lotus. Lotus is dangerous. He can float, he can retract his testicles into his body and he is the master of the White Lotus 100-Pace Punch. After the brothers are released, The White Lotus Clan vows revenge attacking the Shaolin and killing Ah-Piao. This leads to Hung Wei-Ting retaliating against White Lotus, hoping that his Tiger-Crane Style will vanquish the Lotus’ evil from the world forever.
Gordon Liu and Lo Lieh give some awesome fight sequences. The choreography is effective. I love the sound effects. A whoosh and bump for every move. What the film may lack in production it makes up with exquisite choreographed fight sequences including interesting additions. Additions like White Lotus’ floating or the wind power behind Wei-Ting’s punches. These elements add more interest to the fights then you see in average martial arts movies.
This movie is known as either Clan of the White Lotus or Fist of the White Lotus, depending on who you're asking. It’s bizarre but entertaining. The endless fighting and sparring keeps your interest. But the overabundance of crotch punches is insane. Gordon Liu cannot throw a punch without hitting a groin. This weirdness gets worked into the plot. These low-blows seem to be part of Wei-Ting’s Tiger-Crane Style. So White Lotus displays the ability to pull his testicles into his abdomen! Weird! But these dodged nut shots advance the plot. Wei-Ting must learn different styles of Kung Fu to defeat White Lotus. These are weird styles too, Feminine Kung Fu and Acupuncture Kung Fu.
Some of my favorite scenes are of Hung Wei-Ting practicing fighting the White Lotus. He wraps his friend in paper and hangs him up like a pinata. Then practices his punches and dodges on him. It’s hilarious. Wei-Ting learning to do “woman’s work” comes in at a close second. The comedy spots are appreciated. They tend to break up the endless sparring and fighting. Hsiao Ho, as Wei-Ting is hilarious.
Clan/Fist of the White Lotus is a perfect jumping off point for those that aren’t familiar with this style of film. The Shaw Brothers have a quality and nostalgia to their films. It’s chock full of overdubbed fighting and the fantastical elements that add a lot of intrigue. Including Pai Mei/White Lotus also adds an interesting factor. I recommend this movie to film buffs that want to experience a Shaw Brothers production. It goes a lot of places I wouldn’t had expected a kung fu movie to go. Its epic for such a low budget production.