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Film Review: Challenge of the Masters (陸阿采與黃飛鴻 (1976) - Hong Kong (Shawscope Volume 1) (Arrow Video)

Andrew Chan

Film Review: Challenge of the Masters (陸阿采與黃飛鴻 (1976) - Hong Kong (Shawscope Volume 1) (Arrow Video)

Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)


“Challenge of the Masters” directed by the legendary Lau Kar Leung is a culturally significant Kung fu film. With its grounded style and meticulous attention to detail, this movie serves as a cornerstone in the genre and has influenced future interpretations of the Wong Fei Hung character, notably in Tsui Hark's “Once Upon a Time in China”series. Gordon Liu's star-making performance as Wong Fei Hung adds depth and authenticity to the film.

Lau Kar Leung's direction in Challenge of the Masters is a masterclass in capturing the essence of traditional Kung fu. The fight sequences are meticulously choreographed, showcasing the skill and agility of the performers. The cinematography is captivating, with each shot beautifully capturing the grace and power of the martial arts on display. The attention to detail and commitment to authenticity make this film a visual treat for Kung fu enthusiasts.

Gordon Liu's portrayal of Wong Fei Hung is a standout performance that solidifies his status as a rising star. Liu brings a sense of depth and conviction to the character, portraying Wong Fei Hung's growth and moral development with nuance. His physicality and martial arts prowess are evident in every fight scene, while his ability to convey emotion through subtle gestures adds depth to the character.

“Challenge of the Masters” also holds cultural significance as it paved the way for future interpretations of Wong Fei Hung. The film's grounded style and exploration of moral dilemmas influenced Tsui Hark's successful “Once Upon a Time in China” series, which further popularized the character and the genre. Challenge of the Masters, therefore, occupies a significant place in the evolution of Wong Fei Hung in cinema.

All in all, “Challenge of the Masters” along with Lau Kar Leung's masterful direction, Gordon Liu's captivating performance, and its impact on future interpretations of the Wong Fei Hung character make it a must-watch for fans of the genre. This film's beautifully choreographed fight sequences and its exploration of moral themes of the meaning of Kung fu.


I rated it 8/10

Reviewed as part of Shawscope Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu Ray Set (Digitally restored in 2K format)

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