Fearless Fighters/Review

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< Fearless Fighters
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Straight off the bat, I feel as if I should be honest with you, faithful reader. I think I owe you that much. If you have come to this review of Fearless Fighters in the hopes of finding a classic kung fu movie or a hidden martial arts gem, then you may as well stop reading right now, because Fearless Fighters is neither of those things. It's not Fist of Fury. It's not New World. Hell, at times it isn't even Dynasty Warriors. What Fearless Fighters is is a terrible movie. Having said all that if like me, you have a love of films so terrible, so earth-shatteringly awful that they are in fact good, then Fearless Fighters is going to be right up your alley.

Fearless Fighters starts when the evil To Pa sends a group of his men to ambush the legendary fighter Chen Chen Chow - known to all and sundry as The Lightning Whipper because kung fu - who is transporting a truckload of gold for the poor. This goes about as well as you'd imagine and Mr. Whipper beats all those involved without so much as breaking a sweat, sending them scattering back to the hills whence they came. This does not sit well with To Pa who pays a visit to his brother in martial arts, Lei Pang, with some cock and bull story about how they tried to offer their help in making sure the gold got from point A to point B, only for The Whipmeister General to attack them for no reason. Lei Pang calls them out on their lie and warns them that they are not to use the skills their master taught them for crime or revenge and to not bring shame to the name of their Eagle Claw Fighting Clan.

The word revenge crops up a lot at the beginning of Fearless Fighters, and throughout as well, as they are obviously trying to get across that the idea of kung fu chopping someone in the head is a bad one, if done for the wrong reasons. But they quickly change tact when To Pa is successful in robbing Whippy McSkippy the second time around and Lei Pang corners him, takes away his ill-gotten booty, and decides to return it to the police. It's here he is set up by To Pa to be taken into custody as the mastermind behind the heist and while he is being led away from his home - because that's obviously the best place to take the gold as the bandits who know who he is obviously won't think of looking for it there - To Pa and his mob bum rush the house and kill everyone inside. The only survivor is his son who, thanks to the sacrifice of his uncle, ends up being saved by the mysterious Lady Tieh with the promise that she'll make sure he gets to his father, who is currently in prison. Meanwhile, the tough old bastard Chen Chen Chow has managed to return to his home, with arrows sticking out of him like a pincushion, where he is met by his distraught son and daughter, Chen and Mu Lan. While he is on his deathbed/chair due to being poisoned - though the fact he yoinks out the arrows and sends blood spurting everywhere couldn't have helped - he makes his two children promise to seek revenge and they happily agree in floods of tears, vowing to the kill the man in the prison, our framed friend, Lei Pang. This is set into motion by Chen Jr. getting himself arrested while helping Lady Tieh in a street fight. While he is in the cell next to Lei Pang he hears Pang's son come in and inform his father that everyone he's ever loved is now dead to which Pang reacts by screaming about…yup, you guessed it…REVENGE! Later that night Chen Jr. helps Pang escape and along with his sister Mu Lan, they set off as an unlikely trio to find the gold and get some sweet, sweet vengeance. I should mention here that Mu Lan doesn't buy a word of Lei Pang's innocence, even though you'd have to thicker than two planks of wood not to see he was framed, so she's always on the verge of stabbing him while he sleeps.

Elsewhere, To Pa has heard that of Lei Pang's escape to freedom so decides to hire as many mercenary kung fu masters as he can to make sure that Pang ends up six feet under. The best of these is The Loner who is better known as The One Man Army, played by the always excellent Chan Hung-lit, who is just an utter badass. Along with the other hired hands, he will be part of an ongoing ambush against the four Fearless Fighters who have now been joined by Lady Tieh. In all fairness to Fearless Fighters, the actual battle scenes are pretty well done for the time. It's the standard Chinese Opera way of doing things, with everyone waiting their turn, but it's pretty funny to watch the Fearless Fighters throw arrows, knives, and in Lei Pang's case leaves from a tree, at their foes to kill them. The editing on the other hand is pretty shoddy. It's obvious that they decided to chop out everything that wasn't fight-related, using minimal plot to drive the story forward, and that would've been fine to a degree but some of the cuts are just hysterical. For example, towards the end of the film, Chen Jr., Mu Lan, and Lady Tieh are fighting To Pa inside his hideout when all of a sudden we're magically transported to a cliff edge without any explanation of how the hell we got there. I swear I had to rewind that bit just to make sure I hadn't missed anything.

The war rages on until Lei Pang finally runs into The One Man Army and gets his ass kicked seven ways from Sunday. Seriously wounded, he is thrown off the edge of a cliff by To Pa and is, seemingly, deader than corduroy. This means his three surviving friends will now go on in his stead to exact even more REVENGE! They go into the heart of To Pa's den and start murdering everyone they can find which leads to the climatic fight scene on top of the cliff's edge as I mentioned a minute ago. Except, Lei Pang isn't dead, and this is the part of Fearless Fighters that had me in hysterics. It seems that after his plunge he was saved by his master, who we've not seen AT ALL throughout the film, who nursed him back to health and made him some artificial limbs with which he can get his kung fu on. The reason that this is so gut bustlingly funny is that they've already stated earlier that they were only about a day away from To Pa's hideout, and we are supposed to accept that Lei Pang has miraculously recovered enough after having his limbs amputated to be able to catch up with them. It's so damn ludicrous, and so damn kung fu, that I couldn't help but feel a certain affinity with Fearless Fighters. Lei Pang then goes out and kills One Man Army thanks to his new legs which have blades attached to them and then shows up in the nick of time to save his friends and kill To Pa with his flying ninja arms and no, I'm not joking.

As I mentioned in the intro to this review, don't come into Fearless Fighters expecting a good movie as it's really, really not. What it is, however, is one of those films that I absolutely adore because of everything that's wrong with it. The dubbing is off, the editing is dreadful, and the plot is non-existent, but at the same time it reminded me of my earlier days as a marital arts fan, when I would hoover up these kinds of cinematic disasters late at night, over an eight pack and a take-out pizza. I love this kind of crap, and if you do as well then you'll get a kick out of Fearless Fighters.

Neil Gray is a writer from the UK. The story goes that he was invented in a laboratory experiment that went horribly wrong and has spent years devouring every movie form and film genre that was foolish enough to pass his way until he is now nothing more than a hideous monstrosity, more celluloid than man.
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