Arts and Entertainment
By Patrick Macias
THIS OLD- school Mandarin martial arts comedy sure is an odd beast. On one hand, 1980's Invincible Kung Fu Legs features the "cycle of death," the "foot of strangulation," and other fearsome forms of podiatry-inducing combat. On the other hand, it also comes wrapped in a host of ding-a-ling jokes and with a foolish protagonist who looses his pants about three times in the first half alone. Happily, the martial arts side of the equation is strong enough to accentuate the "slap" in slapstick. Tan Tao Lian plays the aptly named Northern Footwork King, assigned to teach kung fu to debutante Phoenix Ho (Shen Kwan-li) after her original, opium pipe-wielding master splits following a training session that resembles a sadistic sex crime. Once Phoenix and her dum-dum pal Jing Long get a grip on the basics of Ass Kicking 101, they hastily decide to go out and fight injustice wherever they find it. At the proverbial teahouse, they immediately run afoul of the belligerent Ding Dang (master of the "Ding Dong Fist," quite naturally) and his inseparable partner, Dang Dang. Soon everyone is embroiled in the age-old struggle for control of the lucrative ancient Chinese leg-fighting racket. Guys in white wigs and fake sideburns start popping out of the woodwork, forcing Phoenix and crew to learn fighting stances like "sending a bastard to heaven" from their somewhat ill-tempered new master on the quick. A constant hail of echo- and treble-heavy sound effects make up the final reel, an epic collection of blows to the head and rolling on the ground that concludes in the freeze-frame finale of your dreams. Invincible Kung Fu Legs may not be the funniest karate movie out there, but damned if you can find one that makes better use of its gorgeous gams.
'Invincible Kung Fu Legs' plays Thurs/18, Four Star. See Movie Clock for show times.
Patrick Macias is the author of TokyoScope: The Japanese Cult Film Companion.