The Golden Age of Kung Fu (Corance's Top 5)

posted by Corance (eerily accurate cartoon portrait by samax).
Kung-Fu movies have long been a staple of classic cinema. But, for me, they entered a golden age in the 90's. Before that was an era defined by people like the Shaw Bros., and Gorden Liu. And that was good stuff. But, the kung-fu genre hit a stride when folk like Woo Ping and Jet Li took over. I track this era as being kicked off by New Legend of Shoulin, peaking with Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and ending with either Hero or House of Flying Daggers. The modern era is sort of hit & miss. All in all, quite a ride.It's been a long time, so I thought I'd return to my blog with some top 5 lists of my favorite stuff. I'll begin with my top 5 kung-fu movies of all time, and, hmm, they all seem to be from the 90's... The Golden Age! Coincidence?
5) Iron Monkey: This movie is notable for having one of the best bo-staff fights of all time. It's about Wong Fei Hung, a legend on par with Fong Sai Yuk. There's no Jet Li, but it's directed by Woo Ping, which can be just as good. I like this one, because Fei Hung dons a secret identity as Iron Monkey, giving it a super hero vibe. Also, watch for the scene in which the Buddha Palm is used and leaves a big-ass hand print on Iron Monkey's back. That had me trippin'.
4) King of Beggars: This is one of the cooler titles on this list. It's about a prince who's a master fighter, but also a slacker. His apathy and lack of ambition allows an evil martial-arts master to dethrone the royal family and take over. Tossed out of the palace, the prince lives among China's homeless where he learns the Sleeping Disciple's Fist. With this martial-art, the lazier he is, the more powerful he is. In it's ultimate form, the prince fights while asleep! I've looked all over dallas for a master of this art who would take me as a pupil, but have found no one. So, I'll just have to stay hustlin'.
3) Tai Chi Master A Jet Li joint. This time, with Maggie Yoh costarring. Li plays the creator of the Tai Chi style of kung-fu and is brilliant in showing the changes his character undergoes as he descovers the principles which will one day be the foundation of Tai Chi. As for Maggie Yoh, she just happens to appear in one of the best sword fights in cinematic history as she fights an old master while climbing on and through a wooden platform. This one, as you might guess from the easy-to-pronounce title is easy to find, so please do so.
2) Fong Sai Yuk Good luck finding this one. [EDITOR'S NOTE: I found all these joints on click any pic for a link, if you're in the market!] Kung-Fu movies pay a heavy price for distributing themselves under their Chinese names. Another Jet Li joint, so skillz quotient is high. But, one of the best things about this movie is Josephine Siao as Fong's mama. She has madd skillz, and dead on comedic timing. Fong Sai Yuk II is not as good, but is worth seeing if only for the fight Fong & his mama have with some samurai from Japan.
1) Fire Dragon: Bridget Lin's finest role comes as the title character in Fire Dragon, the greatest martial-arts movie of all time. Fire Dragon is an assassin sent after the emporer, but when a hero in white and a police officer from the palace get close, she goes undercover as a helpless wanderer. Things get complicated when she falls in love with the hero. And, of course, this all leads to lots of sword fighting. It's got everything.
Okay, that's my top 5 martial-arts movies.
I'd be interested to hear any thoughts...
in addition to being one-fifth the mighty ghostWerks crew, Corance is a writer, stand-up philosopher, and co-creator of Champion of Children, the greatest Kids' Comic you've never heard of. now that we have a black president, he is running out of excuses and will probably blow up soon.


samax said...

"Iron Monkey" is my joint!
i need to watch that again...
now i wanna see that "Fire Dragon" too.

Corance said...

For me, "Fire Dragon" is up there with "The Matrix" and "Long Kiss Goodnight" in terms of action. It's classic material!

samax said...

now i DEFINITELY gotta watch it...

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