Shaolin Deadly Kicks (Flash Legs)

Director: Ma Wu

HK - 1977

  Hoff! Hoff! Hoff!  

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I sat down to watch this film with the best of intentions: Pen and paper poised for extensive note-taking; My keen, analytical eye ready to absorb all the material presented before me; My cinematically-trained ear zeroed in on the subject matter.

I was ready.

About twenty minutes later I thought, "This movie is really slow, and I've got that important project due at the office tomorrow. I'll just mosey on over to the computer and get a little w"This back-scratcher is great, and with this handy chain I can get all those hard-to-reach places!"ork done while the film’s wrapping up."

And work I did. Important work. And because of this important work – that, might I add, was so thoroughly engrossing - I missed a lot of the character's names in the film. And...well…I may have missed a few subtleties in the plot as well. But just a few. Did I mention how important this work was? Fine, dammit, the work really wasn't that important; but it was due the next day. Ok, maybe it wasn't really due the very next day, but…

All right, already! I was just checking e-mail! Lay off, man!

This movie was monotonous, though.

Our story begins at night, a gang of robbers (known as "The Eight Dragons") have infiltrated a local residence in an attempt to steal a map. Upon it's successful retrieval, when the bandits are about to make their getaway, the lights suddenly flick on, and they are accosted by the owner of the house (the map, presumably, is his as well). A heated argument erupts, accusations are made, but fortunately, cool heads prevail and they are all able to settle their differences over a cup of hot tea. Ha! Actually, a kung-fu slobberknocker erupts (can you imagine that?!) where the owners of the house are quickly disposed of, and The Eight Dragons make off into the night with their booty.

Because of the robbery not being executed as smoothly as planned (murder has the tendency to confuse things), The Eight Dragons become paranoid about actually seeking the treasure divulged in the map, and decide to hold off until the heat blows over. So they divide the map into eight pieces (that's one piece per Dragon, for you math enthusiasts out there), and promise to meet again in three years and collect their fortune.

It isn't too long after the temporary break-up that one of the Dragons (let's just call him Husky Dragon) is arrested in an unrelated robbery (which, basically, was a desperate attempt to cover his extensive tab at the local brothel. I mean, really, who can't relate to that?). In jail, he meets Fong Yee (this would be the phonetic spelling), and together they devise an ingenious plan to escape. Actually, one of the other prisoners pickpockets a guard, gets the key to the cells, and lets them go. Not quite The Great Escape, but an escape nonetheless.

Approximately ten minutes after their escape, Husky discovers that Fong Yee is actually an undercover cop out to infiltrate The Eight Dragons and recover theA common reaction after seeing UNIVERSAL SOLDIER II pieces of the map. (That secret didn't keep long, did it? The element of surprise is quite overrated.) So, of course, they fight, and after thoroughly spanking Husky Dragon, Fong Yee recovers the first piece of the stolen document.

One by one, Fong Yee confronts each member of The Eight Dragons, and for the most part, kills them. He does get captured once, but through yet another ingenious escape plan (something along the lines, "Hey guard (read: gullible idiot)! Come here for a second,"), Fong Yee not only escapes, but saves a damsel from having to marry a midget (?).

Say, who in the heck was that midget?!

Fong returns the next day (in a stunning gold ensemble), disposes of his captors (but the midget is gone as mysteriously as he appeared), and recovers their respective pieces of the map. Unfortunately, however, he is stabbed in the process.

With the knife still embedded in his back ("Hurts, don't it?"), Fong Yee wanders into the woods and passes out. He wakes up in the house of the girl he previously saved (you remember, the midget girl). The recovery process proves slow; Fong not only needs to mend his body, but also regain his kung-fu prowess as well. (All this, along with macking on the girl who saved his life, is quite time consuming.) But unbeknownst to the young couple, her father, ironically, turns out to be one of the few remaining Eight Dragons, and a final showdown between he and Fong is inevitable. OR IS IT?! *Trumpet fanfare here*

It's funny, if it weren't for the IMDB, I would have had no idea that Fong Yee was a cop. In the film he appears determined only to recover the map, and if Fong Yee gets a good scoldinggiven to him peacefully (which was a rare circumstance), he didn't even bother arresting the perpetrator. Granted, in most cases the criminal went down fighting; but I can recall at least one who just gave up, and Fong just let him walk.

"Yeah, I stole the map and killed some people, but I’m awfully sorry."

"Aw, don't you fret about it. Now skedaddle on outta here, you rascal!"

Like I mentioned above, Shaolin Deadly Kicks (Flash Legs) is really slow, and the action is few and far between. Unfortunately, even the fights are rather lackluster, except for some stuff from Fong Yee, who I assume is the titular "Flash Legs." The plot seems rather incoherent at times, and the dubbing is atrocious – but as with a vast majority of the kung-fu genre, that is to be expected.

I'm giving this movie the benefit of a Hoff due to my uncharacteristic short attention span while viewing it. Perhaps I missed some key aspect - one intricate detail - essential to the story. But I doubt it. Besides, any film with parentheses in the title can't be all bad.

If SDK (FL) happens to be on TBS one morning while you're folding laundry, check it out - otherwise, don't bother.

...and wackiness ensues.

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These are the times of which to cherish...

- Midgets are funny! Why? Because they're short people! And they're even funnier when they act like little kids! No, really!

- How every character in the film is revealed like their someone important (complete with overpowering trumpet fanfare), then turn out to be nobody in particular.

 

Shaolin Deadly Kicks (Flash Legs)

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-- Copyright 2000 by J. Bannerman

 

 

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