The Fist of the Condor (2023)

Posted in Reviews by - December 10, 2023
The Fist of the Condor (2023)

A soporific, ambitious meditation on why we study the martial arts; is it for power and ego, or to achieve something more transcendent? Originally designed as a sequence of vignettes, Marko Zaror plays twins in a yin-yang conceit – one brother is supposedly pure of heart and mind, the other is murderous and jealous. In his pursuit to steal the sacred manual of the “Masters of the Fist of Condor” – a style created by Zaror for the film, based on the national bird of Chile – the evil Zaror beats his own brother half to death and kills his kung fu master (played by Zaror’s own mother, the karate expert Gina Aguad), before running off with the book. The ‘good’ twin then spends the next six years on an isolated beach meditating and training – “I’ve spent years perfecting myself” – before the inevitable date when he will come out of hiding and take his revenge. There’s a heartfelt nod to the underdog Shaolin story, as portrayed in many Shaw Brothers films, particularly during the training sequences – its superhuman tests of strength and endurance, its piety and spiritualism – and the film captures an ambient mood lodged somewhere between an action movie throwback full of muscles and kicks, and something altogether more thoughtful and artistic. It is littered with great martial artists who each get their moment to shine, especially Eyal Meyer, a master of the ancient south Indian style of Kalaripayattu, which gets a rare run-out during the final act. Despite an absence of nine years, the film shows a renewed freshness and maturity in the partnership between Zaror and Espinoza. It’s an intimate production with big ideas, and the closest they have come to creating a film which seems to operate entirely on its own frequency.

AKA: El Puño del Cóndor.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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