Notable Cast: Lau Kar Leung, Lau Kar Wing, Hsiao Ho, Hui Ying Hung, Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu Sheng
Just like with any older or long running subgenres, there will be films that become fan favorites for a variety of reasons. Films that garner a cult like following, good or bad. Legendary Weapons of China is one of those films. Even within the genre of action, subgenre of martial arts, and the subgenre of Shaw Brothers films, this film gathers a lot of attention. Going into the film, it’s hard to shake the hype and as a Shaw Brothers fan myself I was expecting pure gold. In many ways, the film is golden…just not all the way through.
When a leader in the Boxer Rebellion, Lei Kung (Lau Kar Leung), disbands his faction of fighters, assassins are sent from the other factions to find him and dispose of his traitorous ways. As Ti Hau (Hsiao Ho) and Fang Shao Ching (Hui Ying Hung) find themselves getting closer to the mysterious leader, they discover that his own rebellion might not be as traitorous as they assumed.
The second half though, really does congeal the various subplots into a much more focused and pleasing whole. Once the mystery of 'who is Lei Kung' becomes known to our characters, the protagonist assassins from the first half step back to allow the true highlight of the film to take center stage: Lau Kar Leung. For all the magic and tricks that are presented in the first half, the second half seems to display a much more Lau Kar Leung-like meta message to the events – that no matter what sort of bullshit spectacle you pull, nothing beats a good old fashioned choreographed fight. The finale is built in this concept as he easily takes on assassin after assassin, preaching his beliefs, with the various 18 weapons of the title. If anything, the film’s scattered and eye-rolling gimmicks of the first half seem specifically against the grain so that not only do our protagonists and villains understand the politics of Lau Kar Leung’s character, but the audience understands his politics of movie making as an actor, director, and choreographer.
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