Magnificent Butcher (1979)

It’s a rare occurrence when a director can successfully gel violence with raw gut splitting comedy.  Hong Kong director Woo-ping Yuen pulls this off with ease in his Kung Fu masterpiece, Magnificent Butcher.  Without the star power of Jackie Chan, this film is a hilarious romp of slapstick Kung Fu cinema backed up by a familiar plot.  Starring Jackie Chan’s sidekick, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, this film relies more on the directors ability to tell a great story and keep the viewer laughing and less on star power of well-known actors.

Magnificent Butcher employs many of the classic Kung Fu cinema elements without taking itself or the viewer too seriously.  The plot is a simple reincarnation of previous Hong Kong flicks and there is no shortage of action scenes with moves such as The Cosmic Palm, The Dragon, The Flying Crane and of course the infamous fart move intended to stop one’s enemy cold.  Sammo stars as Butcher Wing, a student of an infamous martial arts school who becomes tied up in scandal involving the rape and murder of the god-daughter of a rival martial arts school master.  As members of the two rival schools go to war there are small subplots providing comedic relief often involving an old drunken martial arts warrior.

Without the comedy, this film would be an average so-so Kung Fu film with little to distinguish it from its genre.  It is the creative mix of ballet like fight scenes with slapstick humor that makes this film so enjoyable.  The actors appear to genuinely be having a good time and the cinematography is used creatively throughout the entire film.  The biggest flaw that this movie has is not even the fault of the filmmakers.  If you do not speak Cantonese then the two options available to you are less than savory.  The subtitles are horrific and often timed poorly so that the characters are making seeming irrelevant remarks before a particular action takes place.  The second option is to watch the film dubbed in English which in my humble opinion would be an abomination to do so especially given the kitschy dialogue used throughout the movie.


~ by asiaflicks on April 4, 2010.

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