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My Kung Fu 12 Kicks
cast: Bruce Leung, and Guk Fung

director: Lu Po-tu

90 minutes (15) 1979
widescreen ratio 16:9
55th Chamber DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 5/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Pickpocket Toppin is beaten up by the thugs of an evil casino owner, and vows revenge. When the same casino owner breaks up a kung fu school and defeats the three brothers who run it, leaving them crippled, they agree to teach him to fight. Meanwhile, his diminutive friend Chai, a night soil man in a brothel, rescues a girl sold into prostitution, and Toppin takes her in too. At first, Toppin's revenge goes well - but he's going to need more than ordinary kung fu to beat his enemy's champion. The answer to all this might lie with the other lodger in his peculiar household, an elderly rickshaw driver, who turns out to be a master with unheard-of skills...

My Kung Fu 12 Kicks (aka: Shi er tan tui) is one of those extraordinary movies that lurches from coincidence to accident to completely unexplained events, propelled entirely by low-grade humour, badly dubbed dialogue, and furious waving of arms and legs. No, it doesn't make much sense, but the plot's only an excuse for the fights, really, so who cares? The cast throw themselves into it with real energy, but the poorly translated dialogue, delivered in twangy American accents, soon begins to grate, and I had difficulty telling some of the characters apart. Toppin also seems remarkably absent-minded - though he begins the final action sequence setting out to rescue his girlfriend when she's returned to the brothel, he soon forgets all about her, and the movie ends without the slightest reference to her situation. Well, she'd only get in the way of all those manly back-slapping congratulations anyway...

Transferred from a rather scratchy old print, and with only a handful of trailers as extras, this isn't a high quality package, and there's nothing to distinguish the movie itself from dozens of similar ones; but if you really like traditional kung fu movies, it might be worth a look.
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