9th Old School Kung Fu Fest: 7 Grandmasters (1977)

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. 

To see any of these shows, visit the Museum of the Moving Image online or Subway Cinema.

Sang Kuan Chun is ready to retire. After all, he’s done it all and has nothing to prove until he gets a note that says that he’s not the best and must challenge the seven grandmasters to prove that he — and his style — are the best. Sang Kuan Chun goes on a journey with his four best students — and soon picks up Siu Ying who wants revenge — to challenge each of the schools. And let me tell you, this is not bs, as I once was part of a small martial arts group that would go school to school and challenge their students to prove that we had the best fighting style. Look — I’m no master of chess boxing and am just one of those gotta be dumb, gotta be tough fighters. So just imagine walking into a martial arts school in the suburbs and being like, “We want to fight your best guy.” I felt like Yoji Anjo challenging Rickson Gracie a lot of the time.

Before Sang Kuan Chun’s teacher died, he gave him a book of the Pai Mei Twelve Strikes. There was a masked man who stole three of those strikes — and also set up Sang Kuan Chun to kill Siu Ying’s father — and who is mathematically the better fighter because he knows all twelve of the deadly strikes. That man teaches Siu Ying the final strikes and leads him to nearly kill the teacher until he remembers the rule of never killing anyone if it can be avoided.

Once the masked man is revealed, there’s still one final battle.

Look, 7 Grandmasters isn’t the best martial arts movie ever, but it’s got a story that breaks from the norm and the idea that there’s always one more strike and always someone better than you rings true. It’s definitely a blast to watch.

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