Master Wang (Gordon Liu) is a master martial artist and prince-in-hiding, working as a jewel trader while trying to recruit young rebel Ho (Wong Yue) into his police force. Meanwhile, General Liang (Lo Lieh), hungry for power, sends a series of top assasins to kill Master Wang. When Wang is hurt by an assassin in disguise as an art dealer, he decides to train Ho to become the ultimate fighter, so that the two together can take on the General and the rest of his minions. This might be the greatest martial arts film ever made, certainly the best martial arts comedy, even better than the stuff by Jackie Chan. It was very unique at the time it first came out, since it was different to the typical revenge plots that were coming out by Shaw Studios. The casting is perfect, with Gordon Liu being as badass as he always has been. He plays a Manchu-style character, a rarity since most Manchus are portrayed as villains, while Wong Yue is funny and headstrong but can also kick ass when he needs to. The production and set design are truly inspiring, and there is a lot of art behind it. They are obvious sets, but it doesn’t matter. You feel as if you’ve been transported into another world. I speak for example, of the windy mountain rock sequence where the two leads fight a horde of masked archers, and they block themselves with a series of umbrellas. It’s beautiful stuff. However, the main reason this film is so perfect are the action sequences. Yes, this is a comedy, but it makes the action as unique as it gets. There is no need for new versions of kung fu ala Drunken Master. No, what the characters simply do is act as if they don’t notice that they’re being attacked.
Now, reading that you might be confused. The first two main fight scenes, one with Gordon Liu fighting a wine merchant, and another the fake arts dealer, are done so in a way that both are trying to hide the fact that they’re fighting. There is a lot of small but quick kicks, and blockings galore, while they act as if they’re going about getting drunk or buying jade swords. It’s hilarious and it’s what makes the movie come alive. There are many memorable fight sequences involving Ho as well. One features a gang of fake cripples, and the other, a bit more memorable, in which Ho fights a gang of homosexual martial artists and is, at one point, turned into a transvestite himself. You never saw Bruce Lee doing that shit!
We also have the obligatory training sequence, where Wang teaches Ho his skills. Poor Ho really suffers under his teacher’s trainings, as he’s covered in hot wax and fire to learn to kick quickly. I find it funny, considering we’d be seeing Gordon Liu teaching Uma Thurman in Kill Bill almost twenty-five years later. The final fight against the General and his minions feature both warriors fighting together, and it’s truly memorable. This is the best martial arts film I’ve seen in my life, by far, and I’ve seen quite a lot, with it’s mixture of action, arts and originality. It’s a masterpiece and comes highly recommended.