Monday, November 18, 2013

Five Fingers of Death

In October, I returned to the New Parkway to see another kung fu film.  Readers of this blog may recall that the New Parkway Theater in conjunction with Soja Martial Arts, screens kung fu movies each month.  Actually, they announced a monthly schedule.  The films will screen as a matinee on the second Saturday of each month.  As soon as they announced that, they also announced November was an exception.  There will be no kung fu movie screening November.  If they stick to their statements, the next screening will be December 14.

The martial arts film I saw in October was Five Fingers of Death (also known as King Boxer).

Five Fingers of Death starring Lo Lieh; directed by Chang-hwa Chung; Mandarin with subtitles; (1972)

I saw this film over a month ago.  Frankly, it didn't make much of an impression on me.  I remember it used the theme from the television show Ironside (the original not the recently cancelled remake) which is a well known Quincy Jones composition.  The music is very iconic; I doubt they had the rights.  The titular 5 fingers of death or Iron Fist is a blow that causes imminent death.  Whenever the practitioner prepares to deliver the blow, his hand glows red and the theme to Ironside plays. The punch and theme music were repackaged as the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique in Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 2.

I can't remember half the plot to Five Fingers of Death.  A kung fu student is sent by his master to learn under another master because he is getting too old to properly train the student.  When the student becomes his new master's #1 pupil, a jealous rival student conspires with Japanese assassins to kill the student.  There is some martial arts tournament (there's always a tournament) where the new master kills the old master.  The student realizes has been duped by his new master all along and vows revenge.

The picture quality of the DVD they screened in October was much better than the one they screened in September.  As measured by the number of times I dozed off, I also enjoyed Five Fingers of Death more than The Master of the Flying Guillotine.  Interestingly, I recall portions of Five Fingers of Death and The Master of the Flying Guillotine which means I've seen them before but I cannot recall seeing them before.  They showed kung fu films on television when I was a boy.  I must have seen them on TV then.  It's surprising I can recall specific scenes 30+ years after having watched them.

I'm beginning to think I'll never be a kung fu film aficionado but I'll keep trying for the immediate future.

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