Review: 8 Strikes of the Wildcat (1979)

Starring: Chi Dan Dan, Hung Li Tao, Tsai Hung, Ku Ma Chin, Shen Li Chen

Fight Choreography by ?

Directed by Simon Chung

Gofer, Ma and Mangolin, known as the 3 Rats, are in search of a treasure map, one half of which they take from a kung fu master at the start of the film. For this they use a 3 pronged attack where they imitate Rats, and it’s as silly as it sounds, but effective. After killing the master (on that dirt road you KNOW he should’ve known better than to walk on) The 3 rats set their sites on Master Monk, whose fiery daughter Shao-Wa has no idea her father may know the whereabouts of the second half of the map. After her father is killed, the 3 rats and their men raid the Monk school, killing anyone they find there. After an embarrassing defeat, Shao-Wa is able to escape thanks to the sacrifice of the students and family servants, and her own determination. She finds her way to an old Kung Master and his son, Lee Ta Fa, who begins to unsuccessfully woo Shao-Wa. The Master teacher Shao-Wa in, you guessed it, the Wildcat style. Can Shao-Wa defeat the 3 Rats and take revenge for her father?

The print I saw of the film was a very low quality, but this film was a LOT of fun nevertheless. It was refreshing to see a female hero who has to go through the requisite backbreaking training montages and have the villains come after her as ferocious as they would at any other man. Chi Dan Dan is okay as Shao-Wa, but she doesn’t have much range as an actress, at least not in this film, but her acrobatics and kung-fu are all on point. The best acting and comedy really flow from Hung Li Tao as Lee Ta Fa, as he both supports and annoy Shao-Wa as he never gives up chasing after her, until he actually accomplishes wearing her down.

The fights are all well done, even as some of the moves get a little silly. The Master versus the 3 Rats was a standout moment, as was the final fight, as Shao-Wa took on the 3 Rats in bravura fight where she used her brains along with her new kung fu in order to get her revenge. The fighting is exactly the kind of final fight this films needs, building on everything we’ve seen before, and the acrobatic and kung fu choreography moves fluidly and quickly, and the scenes where Shao-Wa has to think things through during the fight was refreshing to see. Even with her new skills she had to think things through in order to stand a chance vs the Rats. This alone lends an extra layer to the final battles.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7.5

8 Strikes of the Wildcat strikes its target as a silly but badass kung fu film where a woman is able to stand on her own to dispense justice through a series of fights that escalate to a satisfying climax.