Review: The Dragon’s Snake Fist (1982)


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Starring Dragon Lee, Yuen Qiu, Bruce Lai, Phoenix Kim, Phillip Cheung

Fight Choreography by Simpson Yuen

Directed by Godfrey Ho

(English Dub Version)

Dragon Lee is one more in the line of Bruce Lee clones, a Tae Kwon Do practitioner who was told how much he resembled Bruce, which led to a film career pretending to be Bruce. This film even begins the opening credits with Lalo Schifrin’s Enter The Dragon theme music playing while Dragon gets to show off the film’s titular snake fist style.

The film starts as we meet two kung fu masters about to duel for the right to teach wherever they choose: The Crane Master and The Snake Fist Master. Suffice to say, the Snake Fist Master wins, and maims the Crane master in the process. Fast forward twenty years, and the Snake Fist Master is now sending his best students, including Dragon (Lee) into the world to spread the Snake Fist style. Of course the Crane Master’s son will have none of this, and (somewhat) against his father’s wishes murders the Snake Fist Master and nearly all of his students except for Dragon, the last left. Dragon tries to adhere to his teacher’s wishes for non-violence, but we all know that’s no fun for a kung fu film, so Dragon must destroy the Crane Clan once and for all…

The film moves at a brisk pace, but as a Godfrey Ho film that’s to be expected, so you won’t be bothered to ask any questions about huge plot holes and scenes. One of my unintentional favorites is where the Crane Clan kidnaps Dragon’s fiancé, and the very next scene show Dragon kidnapping the daughter of the Crane Master, and the very next scene after that cuts to the Crane Master going “Damn it!”. Just the way the scenes are edited together are so nonsensical that it’s actually funny. Dragon Lee does a decent job, but would have been better if he had left the “Bruceisms” behind. What mannerisms of Bruce he did use were really funny in places. There is also the matter that in the middle of the film, with no warning, comes the Sam Elliott of kung fu masters, handlebar mustache and all!  I also loved the death of the Crane Master’s cook as it starts with the Crane Master looking at the cook and revealing a set of acupuncture needles as if to say “you see this, bitch?” then after the camera cuts back and forth right out of a soap opera he kills his cook…for doing nothing more than kinda-sorta revealing what happened to his leg 20 years ago! It’s also great to see Yuen Qiu as the Crane Master’s daughter (you probably know her best as the Landlady from Kung Fu Hustle!)

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The fights here are fast paced and really well done. Simpson Yuen (not sure if he’s related to the famous Yuen family, but maybe.) paces each fight really well, and brings different parameters to each one enough to make them interesting. The fight between Dragon and Kung Fu Sam Elliott is really good, as is the odd fight versus a fire breather. There are also some really good finishing moves, like the poor bastard who gets an epic kick to the balls from behind that just-never-seems-to-end. There’s not a boring fight in the film.

Watch both the English Dub version and the Chinese language version. The English Dub is something…special.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

This is a film straight from the old school that has ferocious kung fu action and rolls like a freight train toward its bloody finale!

This movie will be available June 15th on DVD from Terracotta Distribution!

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