Although it was released just a year before the Shaw Brothers studio closed, OPIUM AND THE KUNG FU MASTER proves to be just as strong a piece of film-making as their earlier classics. I'm constantly astounded at the way Shaw continued to innovate and provide fresh-feeling movies even having produced literally hundreds of similar efforts over the preceding decades.
This film's a vehicle for martial arts legend Ti Lung, who takes on a role that requires acting as well as fighting ability. You see, OPIUM AND THE KUNG FU MASTER is the ultimate Shaw anti-drug film, detailing the horrendous effects of opium addiction among the working class population. Lung himself is the usual kung fu expert but an opium addict to boot, so conflict comes both internally and eternally in this story.
The scenario is fast-paced and inventive, ably mixing together the usual comedy hijinks (the cross-eyed guy is hilarious),furious action scenes, training, and dense plotting. Chia Tang's direction is outstanding and makes this a fine-looking film and the action never disappoints, although the final bout is a little brief for my liking and the film's true dramatic climax comes earlier. The triumvirate of villainy comes in the form of Chen Kuan Tai, Lee Hoi San, and Phillip Ko, all of whom are excellent.
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A Kung Fu master finds out that an opium den is destroying the lives of the town he lives in, and vows to put an end to the den, but first he must try to defeat the strongest enemy he has ever faced: his addiction to the drug itself.
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