Hitman in the Hand of Buddha (1981)

Posted in Reviews by - September 22, 2014
Hitman in the Hand of Buddha (1981)

Taking full creative control as director, producer and leading man, this is Hwang Jang-lee‘s labour of love. The result is a chopsocky classic. As a reaction to always playing the villain, Hwang casts himself as the movie’s clean-shaven hero. In the brilliant opening sequence, he steals a man’s money and fends off a heap of attackers only to return the cash back to its occupant, upon which the grateful man asks, “maybe the bad can become good?”. Despite the niceties, Hwang still kicks hard and is electrifying in the fight scenes. Superb choreography highlights his entire repertoire of fancy legwork, plus his mastery of the Eagle Claw style and bo staff. As a naive country boy, Hwang inadvertently finds himself at the forefront of a gang war involving two rival rice firms after he assists his inept brother at his failing business. Tino Wong is hired by the baddies to take care of Hwang and his sibling, and when he is defeated, he heads to the temple to learn some real kung fu. Upon returning, Hwang’s brother has since been killed (by Tino) and his sister has been raped (by Tino, again). His quest for revenge eventually takes him to the man at the top: Uncle 33 (Eddy Ko), so-called because of the number of people he has killed. Let’s hope Hwang isn’t number 34. But then again, considering he is the film’s director, producer and star, do we really think that’s likely?

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