It was fitting to see this one after EARS, OPEN. EYEBALLS, CLICK.
Because this is basically a movie about Shaolin kung-fu boot camp. A trainee must go through 35 chambers, each of which feature seemingly ordinary tasks that actually enhance one’s martial arts ability. Like carrying buckets of water up a steep ramp, with knife blades strapped under your arms so that if your arms fall to your sides, you get stabbed. Or striking a bell with a long bamboo stick, all the better to strengthen your wrists. The hardest one turns out to be ramming heavy swinging sacks with your head.
So that’s 35 chambers. What’s the 36th?
Ah, but that would be spoiling.
Remember Gordon Liu from KILL BILL? He was the bald-headed leader of the Crazy 88s in part one, and Master Pai Mei in part two. Here, he’s the star, and leaves no doubt as to how he impressed Tarantino. The director, Liu Chia-Liang, is the director of a certain well-regarded Jackie Chan flick by the name of DRUNKEN MASTER II.
Undoubtedly THE KARATE KID was inspired by movies like this also, in the way it depicts banal daily tasks as potential martial arts training exercises.
There isn’t a whole lot of plot: Liu’s character is one of the few survivors of a purge by a tyrannical Tartar leader. Left for dead, he sneaks into a Shaolin temple, where he spends most of the movie training, and becoming a supreme ass-kicker.
The print was digitally restored, and subtitled. The producers are teh famous Shaw Brothers, also referenced in KILL BILL.
But this movie owns Tarantino’s ass. And I bet Quentin would admit it, too.
We now return to your normal blog schedule.