Written, directed and starring Lau Kar-leung (Executioners From Shaolin, Drunken Master II, Return to the 36th Chamber), Legendary Weapons of China has eighteen different weapons, including the rope dart, double tiger hook swords, double hammers, a battle axe, the snake halberd, Kwan Dao, twin broadswords, the double-edged sword, a Chinese spear, the three-section chain whip, double daggers, double crutches, a monk’s spade, a staff, the tiger fork, a rattan shield, the single butterfly sword and the three-section staff.
Having been defeated by the gunpowder and bullets of the West during the Boxer Rebellion, multiple Chinese fight schools are trying to learn how martial arts can defeat guns. However, Lei Kung refuses to allow any more of his students to die trying to use their fighting skills to block bullets. In retaliation, the rival schools brand him a traitor and send their greatest fighters to kill him.
The foremost of them is Master Li Lin-ying who has hired Lei Ying, Tieh Hau and Ti Tan (Gordon Liu!) to get the job done. But if you’re expecting a straight martial arts film, this one has voodoo martial artists controlling other fighters and no small dose of the supernatural.
It also has long segments of comedy which have led many to disike it. I had no issues with it, as this is a big movie filled with big ideas that tries to break a lot of the mold of the form. Also, I’m always amazed at what gets cut in the UK, as every scene of throwing stars and nunchaku was eliminated there (which helpful reader Scott Napier pointed out to me is four countries and not just England: Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland).
This is worth it just for the final battle in which all of the legendary weapons are used in combat by a master so wise in their handling that he doesn’t even need to defeat his opponent to win the fight.
The 88 Films blu ray release of Legendary Weapons of China features a high definition 1080p version of the film with English and Cantonese (with newly translated English subtitles) dialogue. It also has two audio commentaries, one with Asian cinema experts Mike Leeder and Arne Venema, as well as one with Frank Djeng. There are also interviews with David West, Gordon Liu and Titus Ho, the original trailer and gorgeous slipcase art by Robert “Kung Fu Bob” O’Brien with a poster and booklet. You can get this from MVD and Diaboik DVD.