The Old School Kung Fu Fest is back and the Museum of the Moving Image and Subway Cinema will co-present eight newly restored films and one fan favorite classic by Kuo on glorious 35mm. Four titles will be available exclusively online, December 6–13, and another five films for in-person big-screen viewing at MoMI, December 10–12.
Carter Wong may be the star while Tien Peng and Polly Shang Kwan show up — in different roles for each of them — but Return of the 18 Bronzemen isn’t a direct sequel to The 18 Bronzemen. Wong is Ai Sung-Chueh, a murderous prince who leaves behind the throne to study the rebels up close by studying at the Shaolin temple. He’s at once determined to pass the tests of the temple to gain their skills and to destroy it.
This installment has way less story, but the real reason to watch it is the nearly hour-long sequence where Wong studies and then challenges the Bronzemen. It’s literally a movie based around one long fight and it’s just as great as it sounds. There’s not much more of a story than that. Really, you expect Wong to get some kind of change of heart or become a better person and he never does, which is odd for someone who has devoted three years of his life to being part of the Shaolin.
The titular fighting masters remain the real draw of this film and the scenes where they battle Wong are worth whatever price of admission that you pay. Kuo would tell further stories of the Shaolin and the Bronzemen in another film made in 1976, Blazing Temple.