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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Soul Brothers of Kung Fu (1977)

This is one of those movies that the title alone stopped me in my tracks. I mean Soul Brothers of Kung Fu. I must watch this! When I realized that it also starred Bruce Li (note the spelling) that only made it even more of a must watch. In case you were uninformed after the death of Bruce Lee there were a lot of knock offs that paid “homage” to the man. Bruce Li was one of the if not the best of them. Toss in some Blaxploitation vibes and I’m sold.

The movie opens with a couple of men and a woman on a raft at sea. They are stranded and in dire need of help. The next scene is them on a boat rescued. Then later they are living in Hong Kong and Wong, the Bruce Li character, keeps getting in fights and losing his job. But all the fights are righteous because he is just trying to do right. This includes saving a young black man named Tom from a beating. He becomes the fourth friend, and they train him in Kung Fu. I’m thinking that is how they got the title.

Wong ends up annoying a crime boss or maybe just a Kung Fu guy, I’m not sure. Regardless that man sends his three best after Wong. During the fight they kill his wife and cripple him. Tom sticks with him and helps him rehab while the other man from the boat, Chin, becomes a bad guy. This leads to some Kung Fu revenge as Wong puts everything right. Heh… yeah, I did that on purpose. In the end there is only one man standing and he has lost everything. That is kind of a bummer ending that I didn’t see coming.

Other than the inclusion of the Tom character and some racist bad guys this movie isn’t as much of a Blaxploitation movie as it is a Kung Fu flick made to appeal to the urban grindhouses. But then to be fair there isn’t much to this story to fit it into any specific category. The plot is paper thin and there are no explanations as to character motivations. Not only that but there are characters that drop in and out as needed including one that just sort of disappears never to be seen again. At best the story and those non-Kung Fu fighting parts are there just to bridge the many scenes of ass kicking. I think that I’m okay with that.

The fights are many and take up most of the runtime. They are inventive with some happening in the ring, others in a park, and yet more in a lumber mill. These are just a few of the plentiful sequences of mayhem that we are treated to. The actors are all very good martial artists and execute the solid choreography perfectly. When I watch a movie like Soul Brothers of Kung Fu I want to see a lot of punches and kicks being thrown and boy howdy do we get that with this one. Movie you had one job and you delivered the goods.

This isn’t a great movie and I’ve already stated that the plot and characters leave a lot to be desired. But I still liked it. Based on feedback from earlier reviews of Kung Fu movies I also feel the need to say the following. If you aren’t a fan of such things, then you probably won’t like this movie. Seriously I’ve had these conversations in the past. On the other hand, if you dig some Martial Arts and want to see gravity defying moves then Soul Brothers of Kung Fu is for you.


© Copyright 2023 John Shatzer

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