HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Morfalous, Les
Dreambuilders
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Scoob!
Earwig
Offseason
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Buffaloed
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Abominable
Funeral, The
Burning Sea, The
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Spiritual Boxer, The Faking It
Year: 1975
Director: Lau Kar-Leung
Stars: Wong Yu, Lam Jan Kei, Ti Lung, Chen Kwan Tai, Lee Hoi San, Fong Hak On, Chan Mei Hua, Ng Hong-sang
Genre: Comedy, Martial Arts, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: This breezy Shaw Brothers kung fu caper is widely regarded to be the film that lay the groundwork for the comedic martial art style later pioneered by the likes of Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung in the 1980s. In 1975, The Spiritual Boxer's contemporaries at the Shaw studio tended to be fairly serious, often complicated yarns, but Lau Kar-Leung's debut has a slight, amusing plot that puts the emphasis on humour rather than action.

Wong Yu plays Hsiao Chien, a young man who works alongside his teacher Chi as a phoney spiritual boxer. The idea is that they invoke the Gods to provide them with invincible powers while performing kung fu. In fact neither has any powers, but seem pretty successful at duping people into giving them money for displays of their supernatural abilities. When Chi drunkenly misses one such display, Chien takes over and soon finds that life as con-man is a lot more profitable on his own.

Wong Yu was a talented martial artist best known for films like Dirty Ho and 36th Chamber of Shaolin – both also directed by Lau Kar-Leung – but The Spiritual Boxer also reveals him to be a skilled physical comedian. Chein's favourite act is as the 'Monkey God' – he gurns, giggles and scratches himself, leaping around before inevitably demanding that those watching reward Chein or face the Monkey God's wrath. Chien has various tricks to help trick his victims – a fake knife that he will strike himself with, a lotion which allows him to pick up hot coals without being harmed – and pretty soon he has the whole town paying him terrified respect. Much of this is pretty funny, and although it seems crazy that anyone would be fooled by such a blatant con, it's an indication of just how much power superstition held over these simple townsfolk. Luckily Chien is also shit-hot at kung fu, enabling him to defeat anyone (including the great Ti Lung) who challenges his divine abilities.

The tone remains frivolous throughout, but Chien's conscience about his dubious lifestyle is finally pricked when he meets a pretty farm girl, played by Lam Jan Kei. She encourages him to use his growing reputation for good rather than personal gain, and eventually the villagers are rising up against local gangsters. Hardcore kung fu fans may be disappointed by the lack of action – there are a few fight scenes but these tend to be brief and largely played for laughs. But there's sense of gentle fun about it all – and not a single death in the entire film – while the production values and cinematography are well up to the high standard set by the studio during this period.

Aka: Shen Da

[Momentum's Region 2 DVD doesn't contain any extras beyond trailers for the other titles in their Shaw Brothers range, but it does present the film in a beautifully-restored widescreen, subtitled print]
Reviewer: Daniel Auty

 

This review has been viewed 8367 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Lau Kar-Leung  (1934 - 2013)

Chinese director and actor and one of the most influential martial arts film-makers of the 1970s. Kar-Leung joined the Shaw Brothers studio in 1965 where he worked as an actor and fight choreographer, before making his directing debut in 1975 with the kung fu comedy The Spiritual Boxer. A series of martial arts classics followed, including 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Shaolin Mantis, Dirty Ho, Mad Monkey Kung Fu and My Young Auntie. Kar-Leung was a strong believer that fight sequences should be shot in single, wide shots to showcase the natural skill of the martial artists, which was at odds with those directors who prefered wirework and fast editing.

Kar-Leung continued to direct throughout the eighties, with period films like Shaolin Temple, starring a young Jet Li, and modern-day action flicks Tiger on the Beat and its sequel. In 1994, worked as fight arranger on Jackie Chan's Drunken Master II, but was controversially sacked from the production when his methods clashed with Chan's. In retaliation, he directed his own Drunken Master 3 later the same year. Kar-Leung's last film was 2002's old-fashioned Drunken Monkey, once more for Shaw Brothers.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Enoch Sneed
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: