Writing Kung Fu (1979)

Posted in Reviews by - May 27, 2014
Writing Kung Fu (1979)

Bolo Yeung‘s second film as director is a messianic allegory, an unsettling study on the rich-poor divide, and a testament to faith in a world corrupted by wealth and power. There is a poignancy and anger to the story which makes it more than just your standard kung fu movie, with Bolo casting himself as the embodiment of pure evil. Dressed in white (the colour of death in China), he poses as a Grim Reaper-like salt trader to infiltrate a small ragtag community of orphans, alcoholics and unscrupulous profiteers, before bumping them off with the hope of stealing their treasure. A child killer, a rapist, and a sadistic assassin responsible for a mining attack some 10 years previously, Bolo’s a flute-playing harbinger of doom in a bleak backwater town whose only hope is John Cheung’s troubled scholar. Cheung’s attempts to offer the community’s orphaned children an education sees him run out of town as a useless do-gooder. He is told books are no use in the modern world, and instead, the kids learn how to fight at a kung fu school. Cheung hits the bottle but is saved by a homeless man who teaches him kung fu through a wonderful sequence of poetry and movement. By developing his own style of ‘calligraphy kung fu’, Bolo takes a very literal stance on the meaning of the age-old proverb, ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’. Brain meets brawn in the film’s final showdown with Bolo asking of Cheung, “where is your god now?” The film’s downbeat ending is symbolic and poses a moral conundrum: who are the heroes in a world where greed is rewarded and the actions of an honest man is overlooked? And all this from the guy who crushes skulls in Enter the Dragon. Very impressive.

AKA: Chinese Samson; Hot Dog Kung Fu.

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 keyboard in London, UK.

2 Comments

  • Christopher Evans

    In the review of Writing Kung Fu it mentions that it was Bolo’s only directorial effort, However on IMDb it has Bolo credited as directing Bolo ( aka Prisoner Bolo) 1977 . I asked Bolo briefly about it at The Edinburgh comicon in 2019 , however due to language barrier it was a bit difficult to communicate.

    https://m.imdb.com › title
    Bolo (1977) – IMDb

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