Champ Against Champ (1983)
Champ vs. Champ
Martial Monks of Shaolin Temple
Nomination Year: 2017
SYNOPSIS: We went into Champ Against Champ with high hopes. Godfrey Ho directed this particular flick and his Ninja movies have made him a reliable Smithee recidivist. Still, this early work of his avoids most of his later errors by sticking to classic themes.
It's winter in ancient China, and Lee Wong is going with his father to meet his arranged bride - the daughter of one of his father's oldest friends. This particular friend (Master Tai) has fallen afoul of a local bandit leader (Master Kai) known as the Lord of Hell. Said bandit doesn't exhibit any actual infernal abilities or demonic influences, but his hideout is known as the Devil's Gate.
Master Tai is plotting to bring in a bunch of his old kung-fu buddies, including Wong's dad, Wong's old teacher Master Wai, and whoever else they can round up to get rid of the Lord of Hell's gang Tai has a whole list of people he wants to recruit. Kai gets wind of this plan and becomes obsessed with getting his hands on the list.
Kai and his thugs attack Tai, Wong's dad, Wong, and a few of their local friends. Wong takes a poisoned dart to the leg, Tai is captured and everyone else is killed. Kai drags Tai back to the Devil's Gate to try to torture the contents of the list out of him.
Wong regains consciousness and sees that he's under the care of a pretty young woman named Sing. He also discovers that, in order to save his life, she's had to amputate his poisoned leg. He's rather upset by this - he doesn't want to burden his as-yet unmet wife with a cripple. Soon though, he remembers an incident from his training where Master Wai told him about the great Master Lai, also known as "Steel Leg, Master of the 18 Kicks." Lai had lost a leg in battle and then built an artificial one so that he could continue fighting. Sing reveals that Steel-leg Lai was her grandfather, that Tai is her father and that she's his intended bride.
Sing shows Lee to her grandfather's workshop, where he discovers the Book of Eighteen Kick Technique and all the supplies he needs to build himself a steel leg. A multi-month training montage ensues as he builds a leg, learns to walk on it, then run, then fight. Meanwhile Tai is still in Kai's dungeon, refusing to talk about the list despite horrible torture.
Spring comes, and with it Master Wai and some of the fighters from Tai's list. Kai's thugs gang up on them in a local eatery and kill them. Kai has now killed both Wong's father and his kung-fu master, so it's time for him to unleash his new fighting techniques.
After defeating Kai's thugs (including firebreathing-fu, pointy-flail-thing-fu, and a quartet of teleporting women who attack him while wearing hats with rhythmic gymnastics ribbons) Wong frees Tai and confronts Kai in the caves beneath the Devil's Gate. He manages to kick down several important support columns, and the fighters run down to the beach while the lair collapses behind them. In the sand of the beach, Kai's fighting prowess is no match for Wong's steel-leg eighteen kicks.
Even though it's a Kung-Fu movie, Champ Against Champ follows the traditional romantic story arc:
1: Girl meets boy
2: Boy loses leg
3: Girl shares her grandfather's secret artificial leg Kung-Fu technique with boy
- Deus Ex Machina
"Oh, he was my grandfather...."
Clown Hat Fu / Rhythmic Gymnastics
- Actors/Directors of Note
Actor Claim to Fame Dragon Lee Yet another Bruce Lee knock-off, except this one's chubby
Director Claim to Fame Godfrey Ho possibly directed more Smithee films than anyone else - also known as: Alton Cheung, Tommy Cheung, Ho Chi-Keung, Elton Chong, Daniel Clough, Leong Fui Fong, Antonin Gasner, Martin Greenfield, Godfrey Hall, Zhi Jiang He, Benny Ho, Chi-Mou Ho, Chun-Sing Ho, Fong Ho, York Lam, Bruce Lambert, Charles Lee, Frank Lewis, Joe Livingstone, Jerry Sawyer, Victor Sears, Robert Young, Albert Yu
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