Tiger and Crane Fists (1976)

Posted in Reviews by - May 18, 2016
Tiger and Crane Fists (1976)

Wang Yu‘s kung fu films are punctuated by an earnestness which make them apt fodder for a spot of retrospective lampooning, particularly when he creates characters who use steel claws on a rope as their weapon of choice, and protect their weak spots by wearing metal nipple clamps. This may be why Steve Oedekerk singled out this straight-laced obscurity for some postmodern spoofery in his hit US comedy, Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. The story, such as it is, points at a generational rift between the schools of Tiger and Crane. Lung Fei plays a powerful, impenetrable Manchu fighter with vague connections to invading Japanese forces who wants to vanquish any foreseeable opponents. This includes the poor family at the heart of a local Crane school, and most notably their plucky junior student Lau Kar-wing. Wang Yu checks in with his injured sifu following a rocky encounter with Lung Fei, but despite finding sanctuary, his master still snuffs it. You would expect Wang Yu, a young Tiger style expert, and Lau Kar-wing to combine their opposing animal styles in an attempt to confront Lung Fei, but that doesn’t actually happen. Instead, Wang Yu trains some more before fighting Lung Fei on his own. There’s some crazy avant-garde jazz on the soundtrack to help accentuate Wang Yu’s more disorientating directorial decisions which works rather well, and borrowing writer Ni Kuang and choreographer Lau Kar-wing from his biggest Shaw Brothers hits does help to elevate the film beyond the realms of the perfunctory. Lung Fei’s ludicrous villain is also quite wonderful.

AKA: Savage Killers; Tiger and Crane Fist.

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