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  • 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.
  • Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu Sheng, Venoms, Kara Hui. This movie has it all.

    One definite thing about the movie is it is dark. The whole mood is set from the incredible opening credits sequence and all throughout the film. Gordon Liu is Yang #6; a man bent on seeking revenge. His pole fighting is amazing in this one in both battle and training. You cannot miss the scene when he enters the Shaolin temple - classic Liu!!

    Alexander Fu Sheng as Yang #5 gives a great performance as man driven insane from traumatic events. Although it's english dubbing, Fu Sheng's facial expressions and acting is really great in this one...he really looks crazy!! I enjoyed seeing his panic attacks being doused by Mother Yang who's not too shabby a fighter herself. Kara Hui is Yang #8 and her fight scenes are always a sight to see! Oh, Lau Kar Leung's cameo is short, but is wickedly intense!

    Overall, this has become a favorite of mine. Whether it's the pole training in the wolf room, the final battle, or those deadly coiling staffs, I could watch this one again and again and...
  • ¨The invincible pole fighters¨ , international title , seems to be one of the best Kung Fu movies , including overwhelming combats and spectacular scenarios . Exciting attacks and groundbreaking fighting perfectly staged , the result is a strong entry for action buffs . This is a Run Run Shaw Brothers vintage film and widely considered to be one of the greatest Kung Fu flicks of all time . Epic imperial and subsequent treason and upheaval during China's Ching dynasty , being marvelous and colorfully directed . The picture starts with Yang family battling a group of Mongols , showing a demonstration of splendid martial arts . Insidious Mongols want to overthrow the dynasty with the help of a traitor . As they ambush the influential Yang Family , defenders of the dynasty . The Mongols must hunt down all Yang survivors so their scheme will not be uncovered . During the cruel Mongol attack , the fifth son (Chia Hui Liu or Gordon Liu) arranges to getaway and he arrives in a temple where devotes himself to learning the martial arts at Bhuddist location in order to seek vengeance . In a short period of time he learns the art of fighting , thanks his expert Bhuddist master . When his learning is completed , he set out in pursuit his enemies .

    This classic flick displays lots of violence , action filled , zooms ,thrills and fierce combats. This luxurious Kung Fu film was wonderfully filmed with good production design , glimmer cinematography , impressive combats and breathtaking scenes . This is a colourful , Hong-Kong set , mostly filmed in studio and quite budget movie ; leave no cliché untouched , though the fighting are magnificently staged . The picture is full of tumultuous sequences with frenetic action , surprises , climatic combats and groundbreaking struggles . Amid the glamour and grandeur of the scenarios is developed an intrigue about nasty Mongols or Tartars and a learning period at famous Bhuddist temple , including betrayal , crime and exploring the dark side of vengeance . Overwhelming and rousing fights with deadly use of fists , feet and palms , along with such weapons as swords, sticks , and lances . Highlights of the film are the notorious struggle between the master and his pupil and of course the breathtaking and overlong final fighting . Kung Fu training scenes are a direct reference in ¨Kill Bill¨ by Quentin Tarantino , enhanced by the fact that Gordon Liu stars in both movies . The picture is well starred by Chia Hui Liu or Gordon Liu , he is the adopted brother of the greatest Kung-Fu director , Liu Chia-Liang . He is almost always playing a bald-headed monk of some sort . He started his movie career as a stuntman and got promoted to martial arts instructor afterwards . His debut project was Shaolin Martial Arts in which he played a supporting role . In the Challenge of the master, director Liu Chia-Liang successfully moulded him to be a "Hero of Kung-Fu" and he was in the main cast for the movie , too . The 36th Chamber of Shaolin marked the success of Liu and he followed this role and made several Kung-Fu movies ; amongst those , he always portrayed himself as the "Kung-Fu Monk". He played two roles in the "Kill Bill" films . When Sheng Fu was killed in car crash during filming script was rewritten to make Yang No. 5 the hero.

    "8 Diagram Pole Fighter" was compellingly directed by Chia Liang Liu and won the Best Martial Arts Award at Asian Film Festival and was the Top 10 Box Office Hits in Hong Kong . Chia Liang Liu or Lau Kar Leung made stunts and directed several Kung Fu movies as ¨Legend of drunk master¨ , "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" , "8 Diagram Pole Fighter" , ¨Shaolin executioners¨, ¨, ¨Seven swords¨ , ¨Return to Shaolin¨ also with Gordon Liu and ¨Shaolin 3 : Martial arts of Shaolin¨ with Jet Li . Rating : Above average , well worth watching , an unforgettable martial art movie not to be missed. The tale will appeal to art martian fans , essential and indispensable seeing .
  • Since getting into the genre a few years ago I have seen many kung fu films of this era, and I have to say this is one of my favourites. I was lucky enough to find a wide screen, undubbed version.

    This is a classic Shaw Bros. style film by famed director Lau Kar-Leung and starring Gordon Liu ("6th Brother"), whom Tarantino paid homage to by giving two roles in Kill Bill I & II.

    The father of the Yang family and his seven sons go to battle to fight the Mongols who are threatening the Sung Dynasty. They are betrayed by a rival family and only two brothers, 6th (Liu) and 5th, survive. "6th" takes refuge at a General-turned-hunter's rural hideout (the General is a cameo by director Kar-Leung), before fleeing to a monastery where his brash personality conflicts with the monks there. At the monastery, he must improve his skills before seeking vengeance on those responsible for his family's betrayal.

    The first fight scene (the battle) is a little cheesy with an obvious screened backdrop, a setting that doesn't really fit with the rest of the film. If the film was more ambitious this could have been a more impressive outdoor battle. But this is the film's only real drawback. The fights start out great and only get better. Highlights include 8th Sister's really breathtaking swordplay, and 6th Brother's duel with the Abbott which is both acrobatic and beautiful. This fight ends poetically, as during the fight both men had enscribed a yin-yang symbol on the floor of the monastery, symbolic of these two men's conflicting personalities: peaceful monk and warrior General.

    The final scene is an all-out bloody melee which is really impressive, especially when 6th Brother takes on the horde with 8th Sister strapped to his back. Some of it is overacted (extreme reactions from bad guys as teeth are knocked out!) but used as a source of campy amusement, it only adds to the whole spectacle.

    The plot is strong and very Shakespearean in scope (family loyal to the ruler is betrayed, family members must communicate in secret to avoid discovery while revenge is planned). The idea of the poles which use a twisty grappling-end to counter the Yang family's poles is unique. I love the fact that (like in many other films of the genre), the women's kung fu skills are as strong as the men's. This 20 years before the whole "girl power" thing in Western movies, music & TV.

    If you're a fan of kung fu, see this film if you get a chance!
  • How should you a approach a movie like The Invincible Pole Fighters? If you wanna look for hairs in the soup, look for all-too-obvious stage setting for the Yang brothers ambush. Then you could look for some very stagy looking death scenes. Or how about the library music it shares with Dawn of the Dead? On the other hand you could look for its virtues: Strong cast, strong story, excellent choreography and fortunately the virtues of this movie far outweighs its flaws. The story is epic, the choreography is nothing short of breath taking. The equals may exist. I just haven't seen them, this is riveting stuff, utterly infectious. Show it to non-martial art movie fans if you wanna see converts, this is martial arts to the performed to the highest standard of perfection. You will want to see this movie again and again. Own it. The best available copy is Celestial's Hong Kong DVD release in original aspect ratio without dubbing. Beware of bad dubbing and choreography-ruining cropping on western VHS releases.
  • bwallwork16 March 2000
    Invincible Pole Fighter

    What can I say. This film is brilliant. I first hired it as a joke for a friend. We were looking for the worst possible film with the cheesiest title. Well, the joke was on me. I have since fallen in love with the movie and have seen it dozens of times. The martial arts are staggering in their complexity and showmanship. The plot is intriguing and moves at breakneck pace. The fights are many and varied, with all kinds of eye-popping acrobatics and stunts.

    The madness of 6th Brother is one of the non-action highlights of this movie. His acting is way over the top, and the English dubbing is appalling. The poor lad has had his mind broken by treachery and despair, and peppers the film with a frenzy of random screaming outbursts. Classic.

    There are many reasons to hire this film. Humour, tragedy, and of course, mind blowing Pole Fighting.

    See also `Deadly Weapons of Kung Fu'.
  • This is the last film Liu Chia Liang(aka Lau Kar Leung) made for Shaw Brothers Studios and in my opinion, it is probably his best. After doing much lighter, comedic fare like My Young Auntie(of which I champion and highly recommend as well), Liu Chia Liang took this project in a darker, more violent and much more serious direction. Gordon Liu stars in this kung fu epic and is in top fighting form and gives an excellent acting performance as the lead. He plays a brother from a royal family who was betrayed and his father and brothers were slaughtered in an ambush. He finds sanctuary in a Shaolin temple and becomes a monk. As usual in a Gordon Liu/Liu Chia Liang production, the storytelling is fluent, the acting is solid and the fights are awesome. The old Shaw sets look great and there is an abundance of fights as well. They are very well choreographed, but also very brutal and bloody. Shaw Brothers is well known for having quality productions, but The 8 Diagram Polefighter is a flawless production where all the elements come together for a perfect martial arts film. Great story ,acting, direction and some of the best and most intense fight scenes ever filmed put The 8 Diagram Polefighter heads and shoulders above most other martial arts films. The 8 Diagram Polefighter is a must for any martial arts fan and this title gets my highest recommendation. On a sad note, it is unfortunate that Alexander Fu Sheng died in a car accident during the making of this film and could have had a bigger part if he was alive and well.(RIP bro)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The Yang family are masters at fighting with spears. During the Battle of Jinsha, against the evil Tartars, all the brothers are cruelly massacred except General Yang Wu-lang (Liu), known to his family as "5th Son" and Yang Liu-lang (Fu Sheng), known as "6th son". When 6th Son returns home, he goes insane after witnessing all the horror and treachery foisted upon him and his family by the evil Pan Mei (Ke Ming Lin). His mother and sisters have to now care for him and deal with his mental illness. Meanwhile, General Yang goes on a soul-searching quest. Because Pan Mei was once close with the Yang family, even bestowing upon them the honorific title of "Family of Loyalty", after he defected to the side of evil, he officially became a traitor. Yang, saying, "I can't go home, and I can't avenge my country", is caught in a limbo of sorts and ends up at a remote monastery for Buddhist Monks.

    He wishes very much to become a monk, but he keeps being rebuffed by the Abbot, saying he's too warlike, too angry, too confused, and most importantly, too concerned with worldly affairs. Nevertheless, noting his ability with spear-fighting, they remove the blade and teach him all over again to fight with just the pole. The ultimate test is to "De-fang the wolf", using wooden wolves for practice. Now sufficiently trained, he must face off against Pan Mei and his Tartar goons - and reunite with/save his sister - in the ultimate final showdown.

    Even though we really don't review them (hopefully that will change in the near future), we love 70's and 80's Martial Arts cinema, especially the output of Shaw Brothers. Eight Diagram Pole Fighter stands out as an excellent, highly enjoyable example of the genre: the sets and costumes are artistically and beautifully designed, the choreography and fighting is superb, and there are plenty of cool battles. Additionally, fan favorite - nay - HERO - Gordon Liu puts in an emotional, intense performance as General Yang, a troubled man and lost soul - until he finds his purpose in life. This thoughtful performance shows there's much more to these kinds of movies than just "chop socky". Plus the plot is accessible to a general Western viewer, without too many cultural idiosyncracies that sometimes make foreign films of this kind hard to understand. Everyone should see this fine film! Make sure you get the Dragon Dynasty DVD, as there have been inferior quality versions floating around for many years now. This is the definitive way to see this great movie. Because it is so well-shot and even operatic at times, it would be a shame to see one of those horribly pan-and-scanned, dubbed atrocities. It's because of those bootlegs (and even many legitimate releases) that Martial Arts movies of this kind get a bad rap. 8 Diagram Pole Fighter can stand with any kind of foreign film. But the snobby crowd will never think to even recognize that. But it's easy to see why rappers like Wu-Tang appreciate this kind of movie. They were certainly ahead of the curve, as RZA expresses his appreciation for this movie in his book.

    Also thanks to the dynamism of the movie, and Liu's compelling performance, many people stole from it. Just see American Shaolin (1991) Everything from the plot about the guy who desperately wants to become a monk but faces opposition, to the training sequences, was recycled by this and later films. But it's done so well here, and is so enjoyable to watch, especially with the unique wooden wolves, it's best to come to the original source.

    For fans of Martial Arts cinema, this is a must-see. For non-fans...well...this is a must-see. Recommended.
  • Upon seeing the movie the first dozen times I still found myself desiring more and more and more of that great film! Gordon Liu and Fu Sheng and the mother and the eighth yeng were spectacular and the two senior monks were off the hook! The Pole fighting really was great and really made the movie for me. Liu chia Liang is the greatest when it comes to capturing the true martial arts in a film. This is a real must see for anyone who is a fan of pole fighting and the liu brothers.
  • As in the case of many Shaw Brothers masterpieces, the following lessons can be learned:

    a) DON'T be a traitor b) DON'T leave the hero unless one is 100% sure that he's dead c) DON'T MAKE THE HERO (in this case, LUI CHIA HUI) ANGRY - YOU WON'T LIKE HIM WHEN HE'S ANGRY. d) If you love this type of movie, DON'T leave this life without seeing it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Another classic Shaw Bros. gem has found it's way into my heart. Invincible Pole Fighter host everything that is right about a Shaw classic. The beginning really speaks for it's self. The Yang family has 7 sons and 2 daughters. In a fight, they are betrayed by an ally that they have trusted for so long. Five of the 7 brothers are killed along with the father.

    Gordon Liu escapes and joins the Shaolin Temple as they are very hesitant in excepting him. I won't drag this to long, but the end fight had a very unique flavor. Instead of killing most of their enemies the Shaolin Monks performed an act called defanging the wolf, meaning they knocked out their teeth. The last guy really got it bad, but honestly the only bad thing about this film is that Fu Sheng did not fight with brother 6 and sister 8. I found out that Fu Sheng had died in a car accident, while filming this movie, that's why he was not in the end fight.

    But, as I said before, forget these other reviewers that think Bruce Lee is the only one that can make good movies, hell wire fu is what made some of these movies legendary, The Matrix is living proof. In the end don't believe the hype about this movie being good. Believe the hype about it being off the chain!!!!! 9/10
  • Great setup, could have been longer, to build up the training portion of the film.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When taking part in the Hong Kong Challenge on ICM last year,I picked up 2 HK DVDs shortly afterwards, this and Benny Chan's Connected (2008-also reviewed.) Having enjoyed a number of spectacular Shaw Brothers Musical Capers this month,I decided to switch genres and draw eight diagrams.

    View on the film:

    Drawn just before the quantity of flicks Shaw Brothers studio made took a steep drop and Heroic Bloodshed dominated the HK Action scene, co-writer/(with Kuang Ni ) director Chia-Liang Liu & cinematographer An-Sung Tsao bring the Shaw Bros Martial Arts style bursting to life with spectacular set-pieces gliding to circling camera moves for each major fighting move unleashed, and a careful use of slow-motion wire-work which gives the fights an artistic flourish . Allowing the fights space to flow, Liu combines the crunching close-ups with smooth wide-shots allowing each impressive stunt/fighting move to be seen clearly.

    When not dusting the screen up in fights, Liu brings a still, water coloured elegance in close-ups on the 5th son learning the way of the monks, and having to find restrain for his thirst of gratification, in order to learn the monks unique fighting style. Partly based on the folk lore around the real Yang family, the screenplay by Liu and Ni roundhouse kicks the opening off with a barnstorming revenge attack. Leaving the survivors desperate for revenge, the writers follow what the sons have to learn by intensely building up the 5th son learning from the monks how to be a eight diagram pole fighter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Despite its late arrival, this can still be considered a classic Shaw Brothers movie and has remained much-loved by fans since its first release. Although there's a lowered budget – somehow, the sets aren't so impressive this time around – the film still offers solid, sometimes fantastic martial arts bouts and plenty of action to keep it moving nicely along. My only complaint is with the costumes, which thanks to the low budget now look rather tawdry and poor. I mean, some of the bad guys wear leopard skins and others wear Santa Claus costumes!

    As is typical for the genre, the story is nothing special but provides a nice basis for the action. The opening sequence is a confusing massacre with some really violent action in it, including a man scalped and a guy turned into a pin cushion with about two dozen arrows. From then on the film mainly charts the course of lead Gordon Liu, as he seeks solitude in a Shaolin temple and comes up against some monks who teach him the ways of wooden pole fighting. The fights are hard and fast, and include some imaginative scenes in which full-size wooden wolves are used as training devices! Liu is excellent as the lead and brings sympathy to his character despite the usual dodgy dubbing, and his scenes contrast nicely with his only other surviving brother, now turned mad.

    The film piles on the action with a series of minor characters (the farmer, the monk) heroically dying after facing off against tons of enemies, my favourite when a guy pulls a wall down on top of the opposition and himself. There are some strong female characters in the forms of Liu's shapely sisters who show off some mean martial arts abilities. Any fan of the Shaw Brothers will be expecting a gruesome finale and THE INVINCIBLE POLE FIGHTERS delivers on all accounts in this respect. The main bad guy gets his face shredded and smashed through a coffin, and another theme seems to be teeth-pulling as most of the villains find their gobs smashed and their teeth flying all over the place! Bloody brilliant stuff and a terrific finale to the film. Any martial arts fan should check this film out immediately just to watch the classic action, endless pole fighting and superhuman manoeuvres.
  • Allow me to back-track a bit, if you will, please...

    A few years ago, I saw "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" (1978), which I consider to be the next greatest martial arts film after the Bruce Lee masterpiece that is "Enter the Dragon" (1973). I must say that "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" was the film to introduce me to what I call "straight-up old-school Shaw Brothers kung-fu." A year or so before I saw that, I had seen "Five Fingers of Death" (1972) (widely considered to be the first internationally successful martial arts film) and another Shaw Brothers classic, "Five Deadly Venoms" (1978).

    Today, I had the pleasure to see yet another Shaw Brothers classic, "The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter," directed in 1984 by Hong Kong kung-fu master Liu Chia-Liang/Lau Kar-Leung (who also directed "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" just six years earlier). Like the "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" and many other martial arts classics, "The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter" is a story of revenge and retribution and redemption, with a strong Buddhist philosophical subtext warning against the evils of killing and taking lives under any circumstances.

    Set during the Song Dynasty in China, the story concerns Fifth Yang (Gordon Liu, held over from "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin"), the only survivor along with Sixth Yang (the late Alexander Fu, who died in a car accident during filming and the film had to be extensively rewritten because of this) of the seven Yang sons, the loyal enforcers for the Song Dynasty. With the exceptions of Fifth Yang and Sixth Yang, all the Yang sons and their father were all either captured or killed by the Khitan-ruled Liao Dynasty army forces.

    Sixth Yang makes it back home, but he's in a volatile deranged state that will make him unable to positively identify the primary culprit in the slaughter of his brothers and father, the traitorous Song Dynasty general, General Pun Mei (Ming Ku). Fifth Yang, however, now falsely labeled a fugitive and a traitor, makes it to a nearby Buddhist monastery in Mount Wutai, and insists that the monks take him in as their newest disciple. At first they are reluctant, due to his violent nature and revenge motives, but over time they grow impressed by his pole fighting skills and accept him as one of their own. But when he learns that his family is still in danger, he must join them - along with his sister Eighth Yang (Kara Hui, credited here by her birth name Ying Hung Wai) - despite the Buddhist vows of nonviolence that he has taken.

    "The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter" is as exciting and action-packed as a Hong Kong-produced Shaw Brothers kung-fu classic can get. While the film does not approach the epic greatness of "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" (which this film can probably be considered a companion piece to), "The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter" stands on its own two feet as yet another worthy kung-fu classic.

    One of my biggest gripes is that I expected to see Gordon Liu's Fifth Yang to actually change his ways, and eventually have his revenge motives tempered by some greater desire to help others in need. That doesn't really happen here. While his character does indeed take his Buddhist vows very seriously (or at least gives the appearance that he does), he doesn't become a better person and still retains his violent nature and revenge motives. The other problem is that the monks sort of accept this and realize that they cannot truly change him. And while the monks do accept him as one of their own, it seems, to me, that the only thing they can really do is to harness his anger and try to channel it into non-lethal means (the whole business with wolves and their teeth, which you'll see if you watch the training sequences at the Buddhist monastery). Liu's character San Te in "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" did not face these glaring ethical issues.

    Maybe I'm reading things incorrectly here, so if anybody has any insight, feel free to correct me here.

    On the plus side, "The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter" has some of the most extraordinary pole-fighting sequences ever filmed. I've never seen anything like it prior to this. And the film is also quite bloody, too, one of the most graphically violent martial arts films I've seen, in fact, since probably "Fists of Fury/The Big Boss" (1971) with Bruce Lee. And while the boys often get the most screen time, Kara Hui's Eighth Yang proves to be a formidable kung-fu presence and can more than handle her own against the legions of disposable of bad guys sent in her general direction. In short, she's no damsel in distress - she's far from it.

    Gordon Liu also delivers a powerhouse performance here. To know that Alexander Fu was originally supposed to be the lead here and with his tragic passing, the film had to be extensively reworked due to his death. Gordon Liu admirably stepped in his place to finish the film. Admittedly, it would be great to see what would have become of this film had Alexander Fu lived to complete it.

    "The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter" is one of the best martial arts films I've ever seen. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to bask myself in its 97 minutes of epic kung-fu craziness.

  • This is an action packed film filled with terrific swordplay and choreography in the battles. Its best to watch on a big screen for full effect. It is a period piece set during the Sung Dynasty, but just suffice to say there is usually something going on. One of the stars, Fu Sheng, was killed in a car crash midway through filming, so its a miracle the film was finished. There's lots of blood, lots of yelling, lots of running around. As always with these kind of films produced by the Shaw Brothers, the colors are vivid. Not usually my kind of film, it was a lot of fun to watch. If you like martial arts films, this is definitely for you.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Actually, I really liked this film a lot. Yes, it's goofy as hell in spots (or maybe there are just some cultural assumptions and motifs I am not getting), the opening battle sequence is obviously set on a sound stage, the mechanics of the pole winding sticks makes no sense, and the screenplay makes the Yang family members out to be dumber than dirt on more than one occasion, and the whole "8 Diagram" aspect basically come out of nowhere (at no point anywhere else in the film is the PaKua trigram and the philosophy associated with the I ching ever discussed) and then goes nowhere...

    But still, the set piece battles will win you over, some of the acting isn't bad even to Western eyes (Gordon Liu is his usual fiercely charismatic self), lots of wild action and inventive martial arts choreography, costumes, trumpet fanfares, you name it, it's all in there in a heady and invigorating mix.

    Highly recommended to fans of the genre.
  • There is a god. His name is Gordon Liu. And his sisters 8th and 9th Yang are pretty foxy. This is a classic betrayed family eventually gets revenge story, and has some of the best pole fighting scenes I've ever seen.

    The fight with the abbott when Gordon goes to save his sister has got to be up there with the best of them. True the acting is over the top, and the dubbing is rubbish, but this is what we expect from good martial arts films. It all adds to the experience. The end fight is mental, with Gordon taking on half the Mongol army before his monk buddies turn up with wooden wolves(?) to save the day. The last strike when Gordon whacks the bad guy head first into a coffin gives me a rush no matter how many times I see it. Awesome.

    Only one thing confuses me - when he kills off the last Mongol, he walks off saying he `has no home now' leaving his sister standing there a bit bemused. Like me. Why the hell hasn't he got a home now? His family are waiting for him.
  • Many reviews I have read say that this is one of the best Martial Arts movies ever made.

    I disagree. Please consider the fact that the version I saw was fullscreen and dubbed.

    This movie seems to have crossed the cusp of good Kung Fu movies. It was made in 1983 which seems to explain the crappy costuming. In my humble opinion, the costumes are grotesque and gaudy. We are talking liquid gold and leopard skins. The plot was very jumbled and not very clear. The classic Kung Fu training sequences were not very long or explanatory. And if you've seen the movie you will know how lame the wolf training dummies were. And for being called `The Invincible Pole Fighter' he seemed to be the exact opposite

    One redeeming quality was the cool ass bendy poles that the Mongols used to entrap the Yang's spears. They were highly annoying to the heroes and the audience. A real sense of hopelessness. One good thing was the intensity of the final fight scene. A real cliffhanger.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Chia-Liang Liu, this film's director, was responsible for Jackie Chan's best film of recent vintage, "Drunken Master 2". This is an earlier effort of his that is like a filmed martial arts stage play with rich design and impeccable choreography. Like most such films, it is about martial arts disciples defending honor and resisting vengeance (but not resisting it for long). I find the story lines of these Shaw films extremely uninvolving because the characters remind me of narrow-minded religious zealots whose thought processes are collective. That gripe aside, this is a feast of fight choreography and holds a special place in the Shaw canon. Its plot turns are incomprehensible at times and its dialog is stilted, but it's still impressive. The Celestial DVD boasts an exceptional, clean print. The colors are strong and the transfer is sharp. I'm just not a big fan of period martial arts films, but I do appreciate their artistry. Chai-Liang Liu's staging and direction is beyond solid.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Wu (Gordon Liu) and Liu (Fu Sheng) are the sole survivors of an ambush in THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER. Liu's mind snaps and he attacks anyone he comes into contact with, believing them to be The Enemy (who are led by Wang Lung Wei); even his own people have a hard time restraining him, and he eventually goes mute. Wu, meanwhile, is rescued by the film's director (Liu Chia-Liang), who sacrifices himself when he allows Wu to escape via an intentionally-caused cave-in. Wu tries to force his way into a Shaolin Temple, but the Monks reject him as a possible disciple because he's "too violent..." He begins to learn wirework on his own, and before long is allowed to join the Temple. THE 8 DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER isn't a bad movie, but the opening scenes are so overly Stylized that they don't seem to belong to the rest of the movie. The use of wirework doesn't help any, either.
  • eplanti10 May 2008
    First of all, to the people that think that martial arts movies need a spectacular plot that doesn't quite add up, and spectacular visuals like omg the entire scene is RED or no wait now it's GREEN, that's a huge misconception. In a martial arts movie its essential to have amazing fights between characters.

    Anyway, this movie is originally called 7 brothers in china, and if you remember Pai Mei, or "really good fighter of the crazy 88" from "Kill Bill" that, is Gordan Liu. The plot is actually pretty good for a action movie, he's ambushed and how to defeat his family is given away before they begin to fight, so his martial arts are now worthless. So with Gordan Liu minus his brothers he goes to find an improved method of fighting, but the shaolin monks he seeks don't take him in since he'll inevitably kill again once he learns the martial art. He actually has to change his mentality to be accepted and learn the art of pole fighting.

    Fights are great in this movie, Gordan liu is amazing when he's not fighting anyone, i.e. moving his pole around at the pond, try moving with that kind of power and precision on your own and see how good Mr. Liu is. Also, I really enjoyed the final fight scene, very fluid and well choreographed, most martial arts movies now have maybe one good fight sequence at the beginning and then... well... CGI plays a larger and larger role throughout the movie and the "martial" part of "martial arts" disappears and you're left with an art show.
  • I'd heard a lot of people praise this movie, so I expected a lot.

    What I got was a decent but overly gaudy and loud ("aaaaaaarrrrgggghhhhhh!!!" all the time) movie. Lots of cool action, and (all things considered) a fair story, but I didn't really find it either believable or particularly memorable. The bad guys' pole-snagging device was extremely silly. I thought some of the costumes were good, but the chaotic way they fought (and screamed!!!) was too over-the-top and non-stop. Not much to be taken seriously, despite this not being (intended as) a comedy. I have seen many kung fu movies much better than this; I am not a great fan of the exaggeratedly flashy type of martial arts movies.

    Still, this was not a bad movie, and I rate it a 7 out of 10.
  • i don't know how many times i tried to start watching this movie. After hearing great things and purchasing it, i found the first 15-30 minutes exceedingly awful (and they are). Of course, these intro scenes are good for a few laughs, but once you get past it, the film is top notch. The fight scenes are wonderful (great pole fighting, as you'd expect from the title), and once again Gordon Liu is himself (i.e. THE MAN).

    It's a bit difficult to keep characters straight at first, but put this one in you DVD/VHS player, sit back, and get ready for some really (unintentional) funny moments as well as some of the best Kung Fu action out there.
  • For many years, 36 Chambers or "Master Killer" had been unanimously decided by fans of the classic kung fu genre to be the best kung fu movie ever made. Directed by Lau Kar Leung in 1978, 36 Chambers marked a change in how audiences viewed the genre, and during this period, Lau, who had officially severed ties with Chang Cheh as a fight choreographer was crowned the "King of Kung Fu".

    I've watched 36 Chambers and while a powerful movie, I would have to say 8 Pole Diagram Fighter deserves the title of 'best kung fu movie ever made'. This was one of Lau Kar Leung's final masterpieces and the movie he was dying to make Both movies star Gordon Liu as a young man who transitions from a life of political intrigue to Buddhist Monk. While both movies depict the rewards of hard work as the hero overcomes the struggles of trying to adhere to a new life, it a also doesn't shy back away from the difficulties of staying true to his new beliefs when loved ones are endangered and the same evil men continue to oppress the people a "detached" monk can't stop caring about.

    Emotions run incredibly high, in 8 Diagram Pole Fighter, but while a bit over-dramatic, it is sure not to disappoint fans and new comers to this genre of movies. 8 Pole Diagram Fighter is simply put, a movie you have to see to believe. Cheesy costumes an goofy set pieces doesn't distract. This is the best kung fu movie ever made.