Weakness turned into Strength…Kung Fu Killer Review
Three important tenets that I learned while studying Shorinji Kempo were; do not maim, do not break bones, and do not kill. I could understand the killing portion of those rules, but I personally always felt that the effective practice of martial arts was about making peace through the destruction of your enemy. I was taught that it is not about violence, but knowing full combat actually puts you in the state of mind to walk away from a fight unless you have no other choice.
Kung Fu Killer features a martial artist with a handicap killing martial arts masters so as to claimed as the number one master. It is up to Xie (Donnie Yen,) a once-famed master— now convicted criminal, to take him down. The only way to take down this murderous Kung Fu practitioner is to utilise the skills of another killer. Gives you chills to think about it.
We’re introduced to Xie as he walks into a police station—after what seems to be a huge fight—and confesses to killing someone. Other than a few flashbacks, we receive no more real information on the subject.
The story advances three years, as murders of Kung Fu masters start popping up. Once Xie notices a pattern, he decides to find a way to get the lead detective’s attention. His solution is kicking the crap out of a room full of other inmates in order to relay the request. He had been a model inmate the whole time, but none of the guards were taking him seriously, so he had to find other means.
The killer in question is very unique, not just because of his handicap, but in his ambitions of being the best. The means that he goes after are the only real setback, because he doesn’t seem like he has a care in the world. He believes the true teachings of martial arts are to kill opponents that are weaker than you, and he does just that.
This is not your typical action flick, and the in-depth story really beefed up the movie. I even found myself sympathizing with the villain, Fung Yu-Sau (Baoqiang Wang.)
At first I thought his struggle was with having a handicap; because Fung has one leg longer than the other. Soon enough, you discover that this killer is actually a happily married man, but his wife (Sixuan Chen,) is dying. At this point I wasn’t sure if his true ambitions were to destroy those that were weaker than him, or if he was out for a warrior’s death.
Either way, Xie’s friends are being taken down, each with a different fighting style. Eventually it comes to light that Xie knows a lot more than he is leading on about the killer. I really enjoy that Xie is able to play back the whole fight as if he were there, just by seeing the injuries inflicted on the victims. He puts himself in the position of the victim as he plays back each attack, and shows compassion for them in a genuine way.
I know some maybe favoring the role of Donnie Yen, but I like the supporting cast of the lead detective Luk Yeun- Sum (Charlie Yeung.) Detective Sum, also known as “Madame” to her team, is on an edge with her commanders, but entrusts Xie to bring down this killer despite the fact that she is still not sure of his intentions.
The story also takes an unexpected soft tone by dropping in a love interest, and it really made me tear up a bit. Xie was a man of honour, but threw it all away in one murderous fight, leaving behind thousands of students and apparently— a wife. This woman stood by his side for years building up a school and he threw it all away by giving into his killer intentions. Sinn Ying (Bing Bai) is a loving character that still stood by Xie’s side even through all of his mistakes, and even in battle.
The end of the movie also seems to pay homage to old school Hong Kong action flicks, because some recognizable actors make cameos. I think it added a nice touch.
I can’t really say that I had any problems with the movie. If there was anything bad, it was that I went in assuming it going to be the same old martial arts flick with a linear story; but it turned into so much more. It really made me feel for the villain. I just wish I got to see the fight that turned Xie into a murderer.
Kung Fu Killer brings a mixture of action, suspense, and a soft tone of honour all in one film. Each fight scene was well executed, so it’s hard to pick my favorite. I have to say the fight in traffic was amazingly done, but the prison fight was top notch.
I enjoy Donnie Yen movies a lot because they show some darkness; even the heroes struggle between moral codes. The action is always incredibly realistic, and makes you question if people are getting hit or not. The fight choreography is top notch. It seemed like there could be a sequel, but I’m not sure how that would work out, unless they rehash the same plot of another crazed martial artist.
Kung Fu Killer gets a 4 out of 5.
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