21 June 2012 | BrianDanaCamp
INHERITOR OF KUNG FU – Not one of Ti Lung's best
Pao Hsueh Li was co-director with Chang Cheh on some bonafide Shaw Bros. classics (BOXER FROM SHANTUNG, THE WATER MARGIN, MAN OF IRON, DELIGHTFUL FOREST) and sole director on a few that were pretty good (FIVE TOUGH GUYS, OATH OF DEATH, BATTLE WIZARD), but when he left Shaw to make independent kung fu films in the later '70s (EIGHT ESCORTS, BLOODED TREASURY FIGHT, REVENGER, THE HEROES, to name four that I've reviewed on IMDb), the results were much cheaper-looking and less satisfactory, despite his ability to recruit top Shaw Bros. stars like Ti Lung and David Chiang to join him. INHERITOR OF KUNG FU (1978) is arguably the shoddiest of them, trapping its actors, including Ti Lung and female star Chang Ling, in cheap sets, awkward fight scenes, and an incoherent plot. Poor Ti Lung keeps getting beaten up throughout the film until he spends some time in an icy cave about the size of an office cubicle learning kung fu from an eccentric reclusive master. There are two beautiful women--a princess, played by Chang Ling, and her maid--who keep turning up out of the blue to help Ti Lung, but their connection to him or the plot is never explained. Chang Ling (WOLF DEVIL WOMAN, DARK LADY OF KUNG FU) is an attractive figure in an elegant cloak and is fun to watch, although her fight scenes are quite gimmicky. There is a group of acrobatic kids who show up briefly before a scene in which we are told they've all been killed. Yet a similar--or perhaps even the same--group turns up at the climax to help out. A dubbing mistake? Different kids? Again, no explanation.
The screenplay is based on a novel by Louis Cha (Jin Yong) whose works were better served at Shaw Bros. where they formed the basis of the "Brave Archer" and "Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre" series of films, among others. The plot here has to do with the search for a kung fu manual, which Ti Lung is thought to have, making him the object of everyone's search, even though it's obvious he doesn't have it. Even Ti Lung's master, played by Chang Yi Tao, aka Philip Cheung (GRAND MASTER OF SHAOLIN KUNG FU), turns against him. It all culminates in a big fight outdoors amidst some picturesque rock formations and waterfalls. A white guy in a monk's outfit shows up, played by John Ladalski, an American martial artist who made frequent appearances in Hong Kong films, and briefly fights the heroes before the kids take him on, fighting him with sticks and soap bubbles(!). Again, his presence is never explained.
It doesn't help that this was made available in the U.S. on a pan-and-scan VHS tape with unusually poor dubbing and archaic dialogue. At one point, Ti Lung says to an opponent, "I'm gonna put paid to you." The film has had a number of titles, but the edition I have is called INHERITOR OF KUNG FU and was put out by Tai Seng as part of its line of Ocean Shores re-releases.