Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Crippled Masters

The Crippled Masters (1979)
Dir: Kei Law (Big Bad Bolo/Deadly Hands of Kung Fu/Magic Swords)

So for those of you who are not in the know, I will be devoting November to "Kung Fu Theater" which means I will be focusing on some of the more notorious and stranger films in the martial Arts genre, and what better way to kick the month off then with one of the most notorious and strange Kung Fu films ever made. The Crippled Masters is considered by many to be the oddest entry in the genre ever made, Justly due to the two leads being amputees, with one missing his arms and the other missing his legs (Partially). So does this film deserve it's reputation as being the strangest ever? well yes and no, Now I shall explain.

             The film opens up with a local crime boss Nin Li Kong and his goons cutting Lee Ho's , A former worker of Kong's arms off for failing a job. He is then cast out into the street and left for dead.Ho quickly finds himself labeled as an outcast due to his appearance as he gets into a run in with some patrons and security at a small restaurant near by where he begs for food. After being beaten by the arge cook/security he stumbles around looking for refuge while back in town Kong continues to reign terror on the small village collecting debts from the local businesses. Ho eventually stumbles across a farm where he is taken in and given shelter and food in exchange for chores.

While Ho attempts to go on with his new found life and finding some sense of normalcy, Kong punishes another one of his henchmen Tau, The man who severed Ho's arms off , after finding that Ho is in fact still alive. Kong burns Tau legs with acid and throws him from a cliff again leaving his former worker for dead. Shortly after that Tau manages to float down a river right into the presence of ho , who then seeks revenge by torturing Tau for cutting his arms off. While Tau begs Ho to kill him , Ho is stopped by a unknown voice in the distance. The voice turns out to be coming from an elderly Yoga expert who tells the two they should work together to take down Kong's army. After convincing the two "Cripples" they could defeat him if they work together and train under the elderly man, the two begin their training working on their individual strengths.During their training montage we also see Kong continue to bully the local towns folk as he evokes fear from the business owners and others.

After their training is complete the Ho and Tau head back into town first returning to the restaurant where Ho was ridiculed. Here is where the "Cripples" first practice their skills as they fight off the waiter and the big security goon, when a quiet stranger decides to help the "Cripples" as well but does not introduce himself or ask for anything he just seems to disappear.Ho and Tau overhear some of Kong's men planning to steal some gold from a group of local thieves and they decide to hinder the robbery in order to get a message to Kong that they are in fact coming for their revenge. After the "Cripples" defeat Kong's main henchmen "Black and White" , They send his Kong's second in command Pau back with the message. Kong displeased with the abilities of his goons he gives Pau 3 days to find and kill Ho and Tau. Pau heads int town looking for clues as to where the "Cripples are staying and he is assaulted by the mysterious man from the restaurant . Pau and Kong decide to try and use this man to get to The Cripples and they end up hiring the stranger named Po as a gaurd for them. However it seems he may be working with the cripples as well.

Ho and Tau are informed by their master that Kong is in possession of 8 jade horses which were stolen from him years ago and they hold the secret to invincible Kung fu. So the two are sent to Kong's to retrieve them. After a short fight where Po reveals he is working for the government to learn about these jade horses and to spy on Kong, He helps the Two retrieve the jade and they head back to the masters but not before Po has a fight with Kong for deceiving him. Soon Kong finds the Cripples and their masters hideout and he kidnaps the master which of course leads us to our final fight where the Cripples now with the knowledge of the 8 jade horses combine their powers two defeat the dreaded mustached Kong. the final fight scene is truly something that needs to be seen to be believed as Ho uses Tau much like a back pack and they form a Voltron of Kung Fu awesomeness.

      SO does The Crippled Masters deserve the reputation it has gained through the years? To an extent yes but only for the fact that the two main stars are missing limbs other than that it is a pretty typical martial arts film, with nothing separating it from the thousands of other Kung Fu Flicks from the time. The film has it's moments where it shines but for the most part it is a pretty boring film with nothing to make it a classic or memorable aside from the leads. The fights are pretty interesting and well choreographed but other than that it is a pretty forgettable film.If you are a fan of the genre I would suggest checking it out just for the shock value of the main stars performing some very innovative moves due to their ailments and the arm less Ho is quite impressive with a bow staff which is definitely one of the high points of the film in it's self.

Fun Factor: 5
Overall: 5 out of 10


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