The Miracle Fighters (1982)

Posted in Reviews by - February 01, 2014
The Miracle Fighters (1982)

Yuen Woo-ping‘s response to Sammo Hung‘s Encounters of the Spooky Kind is the most delirious, frenetic and wildly imaginative kung fu movie the director ever put his name to. He certainly outweighs Sammo on the bizarre scale with all the rabid spirit of a Looney Tunes cartoon on speed. As with much of Woo-ping’s product from around this period, the story is swallowed whole by the sheer exuberance and enthusiasm of the manic fight sequences. The director continually sidelines traditional kung fu choreography in favour of a more quirky, zany, slapstick variety.

The story follows orphan Shu Gun (Yuen Yat-chor), a likable, wet-behind-the-ears sort who plies Kao, his troubled foster father, with alcohol in loving exchange for his martial arts skills. Kao, however, is a renegade prisoner of the Manchu guard, wanted for kidnapping the King’s young son. He is hunted by Sorcerer Bat (Sunny Yuen), a mad magician with evil supernatural powers who discovers Kao’s whereabouts and causes death by magic, killing Kao and taking Shu Gun hostage. The Sorcerer is convinced that Shu Gun is the young Prince, so he keeps him locked away and protected by a child clown in a giant urn. He escapes, and is taken in by a disgruntled and degenerate husband and wife combo played by Leung Kar-yan and Yuen Cheung-yan (in drag), whose amazing feats of magical expertise involve manipulating weather patterns, extending his limbs and surprising adversaries with a disguised third leg. Shu Gun is taught the black magic arts from the odd couple in time to tackle the Sorcerer when he rears his ugly bat wings for one final push.

With his imagination set to overdrive, Yuen Woo-ping and his brothers concoct a spiraling mirage of ridiculous set pieces, each more outlandish than the last. The resulting film is therefore a pleasingly demented experience, even if Woo-ping does get completely carried away by his own inventions.

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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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