20 January 2013 | Leofwine_draca
Some half-decent choreography and that's about it
36 CRAZY FISTS is one of those cheap and cheerful kung fu efforts that were all the rage in the '70s. This one is a lot poorer than most, with an absolutely bottom dollar budget that means we only get a handful of different sets and actors throughout the movie. Most of it takes place in a field someplace where guys fight for what seems like an age. As well as the bad production values, this one suffers from an absolutely appalling dubbing job (one of those jobs by the 'Cockney boys'), rubbish editing, even worse acting and a director whose idea of comedy is to speed the film up and have his characters speaking gobbledegook.
In fact I reckon this film would be totally forgotten about today (and with good reason), if it wasn't for the participation of Jackie Chan. There are dubious claims that he helped out with the direction and fight choreography here, although he's uncredited for both; personally I can believe the latter but am not so sure about the former! To be fair, the fights aren't too bad, and in particular the extended final bout is a good one – lengthy, hard-hitting, against one of those white-haired supervillains so beloved of the genre.
Although some of the cast are familiar – including the master guy and Fung Hark-On as a typical thug – for the most part they're undistinguished. Kuang Hsiung is just another Chan or Lee imitator. The plot is the worst part of the film, a simple, boring amalgamation of all the themes that were popular in '70s period kung fu flicks, from drunken beggars who turn out to be kung fu masters, to the evil clans, the Buddha-praising monks and the pretty girls (one of whom strips off for a cheesy/sleazy topless bedroom moment).
Sadly it all feels false and by-the-by and you never really understand the main character's motivations. Worse still, there's little excitement to be had from the seen-it-all-before feel of the film, and there's nothing here which hasn't been done better elsewhere. 36 CRAZY FISTS is one to avoid, unless you're a real completionist.