8 Reasons to Watch "8 Diagram Pole Fighter"
Whether it would be your first time or 36th viewing, here are 8 reasons why you should watch, in my opinion, the greatest kung-fu movie of all time.
1) Liu-Chi-Liang/Lau Kar Leung --I grew up watching kung-fu films in decrepit New York City theaters as well as on Saturday 3PM on NY channel 5 - "Drive-In" feature. My favorite director of these action flicks was and still is Liu-Chi-Liang/Lau Kar Leung.
This legendary director is himself a marital artist (able to trace his mastery from demi-hero, Wong Fei Hung) and imparts adherence to the art of kung-fu in every movie he directs and/or choreographs. His greatest screen triumph comes in the form of "The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter" ("Invincible Pole Fighter").
2) A compelling storyline -- Mongols with the help of an insider, ambush the influential Yang Family, defenders of the dynasty. The Mongols must hunt down all Yang survivors so their insidious plot to overthrow the dynasty will not be uncovered.
3) An all-star cast -- Those who watch films of the Shaw Brothers will recognize the familiar faces of the charismatic dynamo Gordon Liu Chia Hui, kung fu babe Kara Hui Ying-Hung, legendary Lily Li, superstar Alexander Fu Sheng in his last screen role, all-time bad guy Johnny Wang Lung Wei, veteran Phillip Ko Fei, talented Hsiao Ho, technical Lau Kar Wing, heroic Wong Yu and Lau Kar Leung himself.
3) Unobtrusive use of "wire-fu" or special effects -- At least there are no quadruple flips and people flipping off swords (i.e. "Swordsman 2").
4) The greatest pole fighting sequence filmed -- Gordon Liu wants revenge. Phillip Ko Fei denies this bloodlust. Watch them engage in a fantastic duel of ethics and poles.
5) The climactic end sequence -- Words cannot describe the mayhem involved. Only the finale of films such as "Drunken Master 2" and "Thundering Mantis" can compare. Must be seen to be believed.
6) No gratuitous humor --While not everyone can have the sense of humor of a Jacky Chan or Sammo Hung, many martial arts films have comical segments/elements that take away from the overall picture.
Take Lau Kar Leung's masterful `Legendary Weapons of Kung-Fu.' The entire Alexander Fu Sheng subplot of the crackpot martial artist could've been done without the cross eyes and silly music.
Chang Cheh's `10 Tiger's of Kwangtung' had many memorable moments but a couple of comedic attempts such as the overly long 'torture training,' and the bystander who lounges about and watches a duel at close range, distracts.
In `8 Diagram Pole Fighter' there is no mixing of genres. What you get is a smash-mouth kung-fu action movie.
7) Themes -- This movie is not just about kung-fu and revenge. It deals with family honor. Loyalty to one's country. Loyalty to a group. Belief in one's self. And ultimately - belonging.
8) Gordon Liu -- As the main star of this movie, Gordon cements his place in kung-fu film history as one of the baddest-asses ever. Here's an elite warrior that goes to Shaolin Temple to IMPROVE his killing skills. In particular his first encounter against a Mongol outpost is the stuff of action film legend.
I feel so strongly about this movie that it not only is my favorite martial arts film, it currently ranks as my favorite movie. It stands above my other favorites (which include: The Godfather, Golgo 13, The Seven Samurai, On the Waterfront, 12 Angry Men, High Noon, Monty Python's Holy Grail), because it stands the test of repeated viewings and never fails to fill me with the full gamut of all emotions, leaving me more passionate about my life, my family and my destiny.
Maybe it's the coffee talking. Maybe I need to get out more. Nevertheless, I offer a toast to all other `8 Diagram Pole Fighter' fans around the world, new and old.
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