"This goddamn film even made it to my martial arts movies top 10!"
Fist of the White Lotus (1980)
AKA: Clan of the White Lotus
Director: Lo Lieh
Cast: Gordon Liu, Lo Lieh, Hui Ying-Hung, Wang Lung Wei
Running Time: 95 mins.
Plot: The head of the White Lotus Clan seeks revenge against two men who are responsible for the death of a colleague. After one is killed, the survivor must train to overcome the obstacles to defeat a nearly unstoppable opponent.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S REVIEW: Let’s get one thing straight: Fist of the White Lotus isn’t a remake or a sequel to 1977’s Executioners From Shaolin. I could see why they’d call it a remake, but sequel? No way.
I’m not sure what the director (Lo Lei) was trying to do, but I think of Fist of the White Lotus as more of a re-mixed, re-invention of the Liu Chia-Liang’s 1977 film. It has enough similarities in its skeleton, but the insides are a different story.
In Fist of the White Lotus, Lo Lei isn’t reprising his role as Pai Mei, he’s now playing his brother, White Lotus. The real Pai Mei (played by WIlson Tong) appears at the beginning of the film, but is killed off by Hung Wei-Ting (Gordon Liu Chia-Hui) and his partner. But hold on, wasn’t Pai Mei already killed in Executioners From Shaolin? You bet. Like I said, NOT a sequel.
I think the public wanted to see more of Lo Lei’s performance, in any variation of that evil white-eyebrowed kung fu maniac, so the Shaw Brothers gave it to them. Whatever the case may be, in either movies, you wouldn’t be wrong calling Lo Lieh’s character “White Eyebrows” or “Pai Mei” (or “Pak Mei”, both words mean White Eyebrows). It doesn’t matter.
What does matter is, like Executioners From Shaolin, Fist of the White Lotus is a really solid kung fu movie.
Once again, the action choreography is done by Liu Chia-Liang, so expect pure greatness. And this time, he’s not directing, so his primary focus is on the fight scenes alone; which may explain why his arrangements are a tad more polished this time around - well, that, and the fact that it was made a few years after.
Fist of the White Lotus is less dark, with more humor and fun. Because of this, the film’s natural pace is easier to sit through than Executioners From Shaolin. However, the seriousness in the latter reveals more integrity, especially when Fist of the White Lotus gets a little too corny: at one point, White Lotus is fighting while trying to cover up his nude body, and in pure embarrassment, he says to the attacker: “Why must you peak at an old man?”
We all love Chen Kuan-Tai, but having Gordon Liu as the main man is a nice change of pace. The inclusion of Johnny Wang and ESPECIALLY Kara Hui, makes this one enjoyable ride. I’ve seen her before here and there, but this is the first time she made me a fan.
Overall, a great directing job from Lo Lei, who never fails to impress me. I’m just so used to seeing him in random kung fu movies (sometimes in crappy flicks, like Chinese Connection II), that I never knew his direction was this slick. I guess it’s kind of hard to screw things up when you have a talented cast; a great fight choreographer; and the backing of a Shaw Brothers presentation.
I apologize for this review being more like a comparison between two similar movies, than an actual review about one. The best thing to do is watch both of them, back to back, starting with Executioners From Shaolin.
You can’t go wrong with either of them.
MIGHTY PEKING MAN'S RATING: 9/10
THE LAWGIVER'S REVIEW: More of a remake than a sequel of Shaolin Executioners (aka Executioners of Death ) Fists of the White Lotus stars two of the all-time greats: Gordon Liu, of Master Killer fame, and Lo Lieh (who doubles as the film's director), who helped start it all in America with Five Fingers of Death. It contains the basic ingredients of a revenge plot, fun training sequences, and great fighting choreography, but it is Lo Lieh's portrayal of the white-haired (almost) invulnerable head of the White Lotus Clan that raises this film above the standard fare. Lo Lieh steals every scene that he's in, which is no small feat, considering he stars alongside Gordon Liu. The action starts immediately, with a fight sequence happening as the opening credits roll that is worthy of a film's final battle.
This was one of my favorite films growing up and still holds up for me today. I love the fact that our villain can not only kill with a single blow to the chest, but determine how many steps you will take before you die. And our poor hero not only has to contend with finding his opponent's one vulnerable point, he has to train to land a hit when it is realized that a fast and aggressive attack will cause his foe to literally blow away like a feather.
A must-see, one of the Shaw Brothers' best.
THE LAWGIVER'S RATING: 9/10
PERKELE'S REVIEW: Here goes: Gordon Liu plays a Shaolin warrior (you all know this shit about when after the destruction of Shaolin the White Lotus Clan hunt the remaining shaoliners, this is actually a remake of Liu Chia Liang's "Executioners from Shaolin") whose friends are killed by the head of the White Lotus Clan, the White Eyebrow monk Pai Mei (Lo Lieh) [or was it that Gordon and his friend have already killed Pai Mei and this Lo Lieh fellow wants a revengeÉ. something like that anyway]. Gordon (what a stupid name) however, after an uneven match, manages to escape whit the pregnant Hui Ying-Hung. Then he practices kung fu and tries to take revenge against Pai Mei and his henchmen (most notably Wang Lung Wei), but fails. Then he practices some more, duels Pai Mei, but looses again and also gets quite badly injured.
After which he recovers, practices his kung fu, and finally manages to kick Pai Mei's evil butt! Sounds pretty dumb now doesn't it? Well throw in some crazy techniques [Lo Lieh can make himself weightless, so he 'flows' away by Gordon's blows' current of air], demented training scenes [Gordon dresses his jackass friend as Pai Mei, hangs him in a rope, swings him around and then 'practices' by beating up the poor fellow], the magnificent Hui Ying-Hung [who teaches the Special Women's Style to Gordon], matchless fight choreography [lots of it!], amusing dialogue, fast-paced story-telling, some insane weak spot searching, superb yet very odd music, cool Shaw Brothers sets plus the fact that the White Eyebrow Monk doesn't have genitals [or at least there seems to something very wrong with them] and you get an awesome, captivating, absurd, exciting, perfect kung fu movie.
You seldom have a chance to see a movie as fun and entertaining than this. It has all the ingredients that once made me a fan of the genre, and it's the kind of flick you can watch over and over again without getting bored. This goddamn film even made it to my martial arts movies top 10! A must-see.
PERKELE'S RATING: 9.5/10