November 09, 2007

Kung-Fu Nostalgia: Jackie Chan 'Spiritual Kung Fu' (1978) and Leung Kar Yan 'Sleeping Fist' (1978)

Remember those lazy afternoons sitting around the house with nothing else to do? It was too hot outside to be playing or hanging out with your friends, and it was too hot inside to be taking an afternoon nap. Unless of course you were privileged enough to be comforted by the cooling buzz of an air conditioner.

You'd go to your living room and turn on your tv set every now and then to check if there was anything on that would grab your interest. You'd turn the knob clockwise (yes! most television sets in those days had knobs and only a few had buttons); you'd check all the channels to see if there was something good enough to watch. Boring show after show, then you'd switch over to channel 13... what's this?! A Kung-Fu movie on tv?! A rush of excitement fills you up and you find yourself running to the kitchen, hoping to find some snacks to make watching more fun. You settle for a plate of Fita biscuits and a cold glass of Tang.

Here are two memorable movies that made lazy afternoons more fun:

Spiritual Kung-Fu / Quan jing (1978)

Jackie Chan stars as a goofy class clown in a shaolin temple. Jackie isn't one of the best students flunking all sorts of tests. The temple's best kept secret is stolen. All is lost until Jackie discovers and makes friends with the dancing ghosts with bright red hair who haunt the library. These funny ghosts teach him secret Kung-Fu styles which will defeat his ultimate foe.

There is a scene in this movie everyone remembers very well. It's when Jackie shows off this new style (he's still trying to learn) to a very good female fighter. It goes something like this:

Girl: "What's that?"
Jackie: "Oh, you wouldn't know that. That's the famous crane style."
Girl: "Really? Well, you look like a teapot. Pouring tea!"
Jackie: "You insult my style?! I'll show you!"

If you were a kid in the 80's playing pretend Kung-Fu in your schoolyard or in your neighborhood, that "You look like a teapot!" line was what you would use to insult your opponent. Everyone knows who has seen this Jackie Chan movie knows this line very well!

Sleeping Fist / Shui quan guai zhao (1978)
After being beaten by some thugs, police officer Chin Tai Ba (Leung Kar Yan) learns the Sleeping Fist style from martial arts master Chung Yiu (Yuen Siu Tin). After mastering his training, Chin sets out with his teacher and Cub (Wong Yat Lung) to get even.

Everyone loved this trio of late 70's Kung-Fu stars who introduced unique fighting styles like "The Sleeping Fairy" and "The Sleeping Monkey"!

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