By AaronRighter on August 28, 2011No comments
Kung fu movies have never been known for their high production values. In fact, that's a big reason a lot of people like them, for their terrible English dubbing, tinny orchestrated music, and colorfully gaudy costumes, creating an aesthetic that is wonderfully bad. However, Opium and the Kung Fu Master is bad in a bad way.
It's all downhill from here.
Meet Average Joe and the Dumb Guy.
The movie opens with an average Kung Fu student and his goofy, cross-eyed sidekick taking you through a dollar store version of an average day in ancient China. Some thieves break into a helpless female's room, and when these two bumbling nightwatchmen can't stop him, who shows up, but the titular Kung Fu Master.
I was standing heroically on this roof when I heard a weak female cry out for help!
Once introductions are made the main plot starts to kick in: opium use is rampant throughout the city and the first full fledged opium house is opened by the Kung Fu Master's rival. It's at this point the movie essentially turns into an hour and forty five minute PSA on "Drugs are bad." The Kung Fu Master is hooked on opium and so when the climactic battle happens between him and his rival, after the Master's Kung Fu student (and part time bumbling nightwatchman) tries to burn down the opium house, the Master is too screwed up from drugs to defeat the rival.
A social opium smoker is like an occasional rapist.
Kung Fu? I am way too stoned for that shit. You know what? Fine you want some Kung Fu, I will Kung Fu the shit out of some dumplings.
There is a comeback sequence however, complete with secret techniques, and an old master who is "blind" but occasionally you can see the actor just rolling his eyes up like the Undertaker, and more terrible life choices from the supporting characters “If master could smoke again, he certainly would become stronger!” Really guys? Really? That's not what got him into this mess? This is seriously a group of the dumbest people in ancient China. It's like all the other Kung Fu movies got to tell stories about awesome people, and this is a story about the people that were left over.
Congratulations, you are the two stupidest people in China.
I have seen a ton of Kung Fu movies in my day, and the charm and mythos that your classic Kung Fu film exudes is completely absent from this movie. There are one or two scenes which are genuinely funny. I'm not sure the name of one female character is being translated right when they keep calling her "Fat Girl", but it cracks me up every time someone says it.
God damnit Fat Girl.
Between the paper mache rock formations and badly painted backdrops, the weird editing during some of the fight scenes, and the absolutely lousy plot this movie should be sent to Obscure Film Hell.
I've seen kindergarten plays with better backdrops.
Now that I think about it though maybe there could be a situation where this movie might shine. If you think of all the school films you ever had to see in high school health class and how terribly made they were, well if this was your anti-drug film you could do a whole lot worse. It would be like a PSA with mildly entertaining fighting? That doesn't sound bad right? So how about we compromise, Opium and the Kung Fu Master is a terrible movie by itself, but if you're an interesting high school health teacher who wants to teach his kids not to do drugs in a fun way then this is your movie (otherwise spend your time and money getting something good like Drunken Master).