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Hit Man in the Hand of Buddha (1981)

Cast: Fan Mui Sang, Fan Mui Sang, Hwang Jang Lee, more...
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: Tai Seng
Genre: Action, Foreign, Hong Kong, Martial Arts, Quest, Revenge
Running Time: 92 min.
Languages: English
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In this martial arts action classic, Wang Cheng (Hwang Jang Lee) is a young man from the country who arrives in the city in search of his sister and her husband. However, Wang Cheng soon makes an enemy of a powerful local merchant, who sends two of his strong-arm men to eliminate him. After Wang Cheng is attacked, the Beggar King (Fan Mui Sang) comes to his rescue and spirits him away to a Buddhist temple, where he learns the secrets of the martial arts. Wang Cheng leaves the temple a nearly invincible fighter, and when he learns that the merchant's underlings have violated his sister and murdered her husband, he decides he must take justice into his own hands. Hit Man In the Hand of Buddha is one of the few films where Hwang Jang Lee, a veteran martial arts performer, gets to play a good guy after a long career as a screen villain. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Cast Against Type, with Suprisingly Good Results by aardvark November 3, 2003 - 3:36 PM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
Jackie Chan fans who have seen his breakout kung fu films "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow" and "Drunken Master" will undoubtedly remember the menacing villain played by Hwang Jang-lee in both films' climactic fight scenes. Those who have immersed themselves more deeply in the genre will recall Hwang's brilliant performances as the sinister "Silver Fox" in classics such as "The Secret Rivals" films.

It comes as some surprise, then, to see Hwang playing the hero's role in this film. "Hitman in the Hand of Buddha" also represents Hwang's first attempt at directing. The results of this experiment are quite successful, as Hwang makes for a rather attractive hero, with slightly more of an "edge" to him than the typical lead in kung fu flicks.

Throughout his career Hwang has demonstrated what are perhaps the best kicking skills of any onscreen martial artist, and this film is no exception. The most exceptional moments of "Hitman in the Hand of Buddha" occur when Hwang really lets loose with his footwork. You may feel compelled to rewind the dvd a few times in order to fully appreciate some of the astonishing moves which Hwang pulls off (without the aid of trampolines, wires, or other trickery). For instance, at one point Hwang leaps into the air and then proceeds to alternately use both legs to kick his opponent no less than three times before descending back down to earth...Wow.

This is certainly not one of the best kung fu films ever made; nor is it by any standards Hwang's greatest turn, but the flashy fight choreography should serve to satisfy fans of films from this era. Viewers are also treated to many of the elements common to these movies: goofy Cantonese comedic conventions, fight scenes in brothels, the creative use of stools and chopsticks as weapons, an amusing training sequence in a monastery, etc. An interesting component to the plot involves Fan Mei-sheng (the fat bearded guy in Yuen Wo-ping/Sammo Hung's "The Magnificent Butcher"), who plays a Fagin-like character.

If you're a fan of Hwang, then this film is probably a must-see, if only to see him in the unusual role of hero. As entertaining as this movie is at times, though, it will probably fail to make converts of folks who number among those uninitiated into the delights of this ghetto-ized genre.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.50)
2 Votes
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