Review: Clan of the White Lotus (1980)


Starring Gordon Liu, Lo Lieh, Wang Lung Wei, Kara Hui, King Lee

Fight Choreography by Lui Chia-Liang

Directed by Lo Lieh

Executioners of Shaolin is one of the classic kung-fu films, and created the quintessential white-haired-master-you-should-not-dick-with in Pai Mei. Hell, even Quentin Tarantino brought Pai Mei back in Kill Bill, so you know Pei Mei is an asskicker. But he’s dead, so what to do for a sequel? Can it match the insanity of the original?

Then Lo Lieh shows up and says “hold my beer”.

Gordon Lui (who played a character who got killed off in a hail of arrows in the previous film) takes over as Hung Wei-Tien, one of the two heroes who originally sent Pei Mei and his testicles to the grave. The emperor has decreed that the Shaolin were to be left in peace to rebuild their temples. Of course what’s left of the White Lotus clan ain’t havin’ that, and their new leader, White Lotus (Lo Lieh), who happens to be Pei Mei’s bro-in-arms, goes on a killing spree of Shaolin, and eventually attacks Hung Wei-Tien and his partner Wu Ah Bui (King Lee), and of course Hung Wei-Tien survives, along with Wu Ah Bui’s wife Mei (Hui) and in classic Shaw Brothers magic, Hung Wei-Tien must learn a new style of kung fu in order to beat White Lotus…

The film is a fun mix of crazy kung-fu and funny moments not unlike the previous film. Gordon Lui is his normal self (aka the Greatness) and handles both humorous and dramatic moments with the aplomb we are accustomed to seeing. There are so man good moments, like when Gordon Lui shows up to the White Lotus headquarters like he’s arrived at Golden Corral: they’re serving an all you can eat of ass whoopins and Gordon’s got an empty stomach! Kidding aside, one story conceit that I’m happy they turned on its ear is that for once, a woman (Mei) turns out to be the kung fu teacher Wei-Tien needs to defeat White Lotus, and it’s a refreshing take, even though Kara Hui was still woefully underutilized. Lo Lieh is a right bastard as White Lotus, and does a great job of nearly seeming an invincible force of nature that cannot be defeated. There is a confidence to his directing, but with the resources of the Shaw Brothers he had at the time Lo Lieh should be confident, as everyone was experienced in filming the Shaw Brothers Way, from the producers to the set builders.

Lui Chia-Liang is a legend of martial arts fight choreography, and he bring his amazing fight scenes here as well, building each fight in complexity until he cuts loose during the final confrontation at the end, as Gordon Lui takes on not just White Lotus but his lead henchmen as well, and I actually like his fight with the two swordsmen better than his final fight with White Lotus, particularly when he pulls out the bladed three section staff! This isn’t to say the final fight wasn’t good, because it was great, but for pure kung-fu badassery the swordsmen fight was the best.

Some further rambling thoughts:

It’s just not cool to attack someone while they are naked in a bath. Not even if it’s a evil bastard like White Lotus. Bad form, Hung We-Tien!

The Five Point Exploding Heart technique is alive and well.

So many spectacularly badly acted deaths….it’s so good!

Scene where Gordon rips off White Lotus’ eyebrows, and what he does with them is the stuff of legend.

That ending is pure Kung Fu gold! The Greatness gets to celebrate!

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Clan of the White Lotus is a worthy sequel to Executioners from Shaolin, and Lo Lieh makes for an entertaining villain while Gordon Lui does Gordon Lui things, which is always a great thing. Kara Hui is a breath of fresh air as the kung fu master!

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