Kung Fu films, are a type of action film that showcases martial arts combat between the characters. It is usually the combative styles that are appreciated above the storyline.
Affectionately known as Kung fu, a sub genre of martial arts films and Hong Kong action, heavily features hand-to-hand combat and sometimes wire-work.
The two leading studios during the 1970’s, Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest entered the Western market by exporting dubbed kung fu films to the United States and Europe.
Kung fu films were well received back then, and they have paved the way for many action films that we see today, for example John Wick. Here are just five classic Kung fu films from the 1970’s to get warmed up.
Master of the Flying Guillotine 1976
Yu Tien Lung (Jimmy Wang Yu) is a one-armed martial arts master who is being stalked by an Imperial assassin. The title refers to the assassin’s weapon, which is a type of hat with a bladed rim and attached to a long chain. The assassin, named Fung Sheng Wu Chi is blind, and has to rely on others to identify one -armed men as his mark. This film has been considered as the Holy Grail of Hong Kong martial arts films, and not only did Jimmy Wang Yu star in this masterpiece, he also wrote and directed it.
Executioners from Shaolin 1977
This film covers a multi-generational story of revenge, where disciples of Shaolin temple go up against Pai Meihe founder of Pai Mei kung fu. This film is a classic and will always be remembered for Pai Mei’s extraordinary mastery of internal kung fu techniques, demonstrating that he can retract his ‘bits’ into his groin, while fighting with Master Chi Shan. This film also identifies the Tiger style and the Crane style, which becomes significant as the film progresses.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin 1978
A well known classic. A loose re-telling of San Te, the legendary shaolin martial arts disciple . This has to be one of the greatest kung fu films and it definitely made a star of Gordon Liu. He stars as Liu Yude, a young student who becomes involved in the local rebellion against the Manchu government. Following the death of his friends and family he goes to a Shaolin temple to learn kung fu to avenge them. He must train in the temple’s 35 chambers. He is now known as San Te, when he finally succeeds. He goes on to create a 36th chamber to enable ordinary people to learn and train kung fu.
The Five Deadly Venoms 1978
This is, for me one of the best kung fu films ever! With a combination of the fantastic choreography by Leung Ting and starring Chiang Sheng, Kuo Chui and Lo Mang, this legendary film is tough to beat. Yang Tieh (Chiang Sheng) is the last student of the Venom House. His fighting style is a hybrid of the five former students before him, (Centipede, Scorpion, Toad, Lizard and Snake). He is sent on a mission by his dying master to warn his retired colleague that his former students plan to rob him.
The Mystery of Chessboxing 1979
Lee Yi Min is Ah Pao who seeks to learn kung fu so that he can he can avenge his father’s death at the hands of the Ghost Faced Killer, meanwhile the latter is hunting down some clan leaders who sought to have him killed. Ghost faced Killer’s distinct fighting style is the five elements, and he always leaves a ghost face killing plate on his victim. Ah Pao is in possession of these plates, and its discovery leads him to being expelled from school and then exiled. The school cook takes him in, and eventually teaches him the skills he will need to oppose the Ghost Faced Killer.
These are films that can be re-watched and it never gets old. Have you seen any of these films? Which is your favourite? Which one do you want to watch right now? Drop a comment in and let me know!