masterly master lee

a home for forgotten and famous korean pulp, its heroes, its heroines, and its pulpeteers

Hapkido 合氣道 aka Lady Kung Fu 女活殺拳 1972 review

hapkido2.jpgHere comes the unbreakable china doll to give you the kicking of your life! That is a fair description of this early Hong Kong/South Korean co-production made by Golden Harvest. Three Chinese students (Angela Mao as Yu Ying, Carter Wong as Kao Chang and Sammo Hung as Fan Wei) have practiced Hapkido in colonial Korea for five years, but have to flee the country under increasing Japanese pressure. Urged by their master (real life Hapkido legend Ji Han Jae 지한재!) to be patient and bear misfortune and mistreatment with equanimity, they return to China and set up their own Hapkido school. And then the fun starts! Despite their good intentions, they antagonize the deliciously evil Japanese Black Bear School (the Black Bear master’s evil laugh deserves an Oscar!) and no amount of forbearance can keep the increasing violence at bay. As a master of Hapkido himself, Master Lee was more than happy to watch this wonderful movie, although he did feel there wasn’t much Hapkido in it. Okay, there was some grappling and some throwing, but overall the movie looked like a karate and wushu flick. But that’s it for the complaints. Angela Mao truly is a “deadly China doll”, while Sammo Hung and Carter Wong kick ass admirably. Korean martial arts legend Whang In-shik (Hwang Inshik 황인식 who also was Angela Mao’s real life teacher!) makes a prolonged appearance at the end of the movie and looks fantastically believable as he takes on and defeats a dojo full of Japanese Black Bear School students.The story is predictable and fresh at the same time. Predictable in the sense that Hapkido is a straightforward old school kung fu flick in which the evil Japanese fighters give no respite to the good Chinese/Korean fighters and fresh in the sense that despite the occasional comic relief, it is a gritty and dark shapkido.jpgtory with unexpected casualties and little mercy. The action sequences are very, very good (and very old school) and Angela Mao is a revelation. She gained faim as the sister of Bruce Lee in Enter The Dragon, but she really deserves her own movies, like this one. The production values are quite high (bearing in mind the probably lowish budget) and miraculously, the Koreans look like Koreans! The glory days of South Korean/Hong Kong cooperation when Korean stars stood shoulder to shoulder with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Angela Mao have certainly left us with some very, very nice products. For the lovers of trivia among us, Master Lee seems to remember that Angela Mao was awarded a honorary second degree black belt in Hapkido “in recognition of her work in promoting Hapkido technique to the world and for being the art’s most honorable, heroic and beautiful female representative.” Needless to say, the smitten Master Lee wholeheartedly agrees. More trivia: Hwang Inshik was negotiating with Bruce Lee to star in his new film, when Lee passed away; Hwang came out of retirement to play Jackie Chan’s opponent in The Drunken Master and delight fans all over the world with their fabulous 15 minute fight; Hwang now teaches in Canada. Master Lee is not one to be modest, but he must admit that the Hapkido talents present in this movie might just be equal to his own proficiency in the art (only if you put all the stars of Hapkido together and then measure them against Master Lee of course). He liked the movie immensely and has no hesitations whatsoever in awarding this movie with the much desired but rarely granted epithet “masterly pulp”. P.S. Master Lee gives out a masterly commendation to everyone who recognizes Jackie Chan in this movie.

1 Comment»

  hark pau wrote @

Hapkido is one of my favorite martial art movies. Mao Ying is a legend. She only made 2 films and ?retired in Taiwan. Hapkido was used as Akido martial arts documentary as well. Arkido martial has a strong emphasis on defense. The fighting scenes were clean and great. Bear in mind in the old days, special effects were minimal.

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