So I go from a great martial arts movie yesterday to what could be a completely disappointing martial arts movie today. Yes, today’s movie comes from the Martial Arts box set, which has been rather hit or miss in terms of how enjoyable these movies are. Then again, maybe I am being too harsh regarding this set. I mean, not every movie is going to be a Bruce Lee caliber movie in terms of skill, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t entertaining. I mean, I loved the old school martial arts movies with the over dramatic “whooshing” noises during the fights as a kid. So I will do my best to keep an open mind and not to pre-judge today’s movie, Return Of The Kung Fu Dragon.
The plot: A long time ago in the South China Sea, there was an island known as Phoenix Island. The capital city, known as The Golden City, was ruled by a kind emperor and protected by his three loyal generals, who created a new style of kung fu. However, an evil Tyrant known as General Black has assembled an army to attack the Golden City. While the emperor is on a hunting trip, Black has his evil wizard, who has found an item known as the Dragon’s Head, to attack and kill the emperor, as well as his body guards. With them dead, Black then sends his army to attack the city. Despite the efforts of the two surviving generals, the Golden City is overrun after an all day siege so one of the generals, Mah Tsen-Kung, heads to the palace to try and save the empress and her daughter while the other does his best to hold back to invading army, but he is soon killed by Black. Mah Tsen-Kung finds the empress, Yen C, who begs him to save her daughter, and he does so but as he is preparing to leave, his own wife and daughter appear and ask him to help them escape as well. Mah Tsen-Kung begs their forgiveness but says that he can’t, as he has a duty to the royal family, and he leaves with the princess. Mah Tsen-Kung’s wife is killed shortly after he leaves while Mah Tsen-Kung is shot with an arrow as he goes over the city wall. With Black’s troops looking for him, Mah Tsen-Kung encounters an old man in the woods and ask that he take the princess to Hsiang Shou-Tien and the old man reveals that he is Shou-Tien. When Black’s troops show up and try to capture them, Hsiang Shou-Tien cast a spell that envelopes the mountain in fog, saying that nobody will be able to pass through the fog for 19 years, then heads up the mountain with the princess and his assistants. 19 years later, Yen C is shown to have survived and has raised a daughter with Black. Her daughter, Ma Chan-Chen, asks her why she ties a ribbon around an archway every year for the last 19 years and Yen C replies that it will be up to her to untie them. When Black shows up, Ma Chan-Chen teases him by showing off her kung fu skills, then leaves to go for a walk. As she wanders through the city, she encounters a man selling steamed buns and grabs one but when the salesman demands payment and she refuses, the salesman uses his martial arts to try to get the bun back from her. As the two fight over the bun, Ma Chan-Chen ends up grabbing several more from his basket and then drops them on the ground but one of the city’s guards offers to pay for the buns. As Ma Chan-Chen leaves, the guard confronts the salesman over causing trouble and sends his men to grab him but the salesman is able to fend them off, then escapes when Ma Chan-Chen intervenes. Meanwhile, Hsiang Shou-Tien is explaining to the princess, Hsiao Yu, that the fog will soon disperse but she will not be able to defeat Black. He tells her that the only ones who could defeat Black are the descendants of the three generals, then sends his servant, Hou Ping, to see Yen C and have her recruit the Black Girl to their cause. Hou Ping uses his ability to disappear and reappear and makes his way to the Golden City and delivers Hsiang Shou-Tien’s letter to Yen C. After reading it, Yen C says the day has finally arrived and tells Hou Ping that she will locate Ma Chan-Chen, who happens to be the Black Girl, and tell her the truth. Yen C tells Ma Chan-Chen that she is the daughter of Ma Tsen-Kung, and she raised her when her mother was killed during the attack 19 years ago. She then tells her that the mark she has on her back is shared by the other descendants of the generals and she must locate them. Meanwhile, Hsiang Shou-Tien sends Hsiao Yu to the city to meet with the descendants but the evil wizard sees her leaving the mountain and has the generals arrest all of the teenage girls entering the city. Hsiao Yu enters the city and seeing the guards arresting all of the girls, she tries to help some of them and the guards start chasing after her. One of the guards, a friend of Ma Chan-Chen named Che Kwan Yu, catches up to Hsiao Yu and it is revealed that he is one of the descendants and the two fake a fight in order to keep up his appearance of a loyal soldier. Hsiao Yu meets up with Hou Ping and they try to escape but end up being caught by the evil wizard. Ma Chan-Chen meets with Che Kwan Yu, revealing she knows who he is, and says she will help free Hsiao Yu and Hou Ping while he gets the last descendant. Che Kwan Yu goes to the home of Pao Ta-Hsiung, the steamed bun salesman, and talks to him, revealing Pao Ta-Hsiung to be the last descendant. Pao Ta-Hsiung refuses to listen but after Che Kwan Yu leaves, his father tells him the truth. Che Kwan Yu is attacked by his own men, who have been ordered to kill him by the evil wizard, but Pao Ta-Ksiung shows up and helps him defeat them, while Ma Chan-Chen frees Hou Ping, but makes it appear as if it was by accident. Meanwhile, Black orders Hsiao Yu to be killed but the evil wizard convinces him to use her as bait to capture the others. He places Hsiao Yu in a place that only he can get out of but Ma Chan-Chen is also able to enter the prison and frees Hsiao Yu. She then takes her to see Yen C, who tells Ma Chan-Chen that she must go to see Hsiang Chou-Tien. Hsiao Yu disguises herself as Ma Chan-Chen but ends up being captured again by the evil wizard. Meanwhile, Hou Ping, Che Kwan Yu, and Pao Ta-Hsiung are preparing to head back to the city when they are attacked by some of Black’s men but they end up being rescued by Hsiang Chou-Tien’s son. HE tells them that he is there to help destory the evil wizard’s mirror, then gives them an object that will cause the mirror to explode. The three head to the city and Pao Ta-Hsiung goes to place the device near the mirror but he ends up being captured. Ma Chan-Chen returns and meets with Che Kwan Yu and they try to come up with their own plan but are interrupted by the arrival of Black. Meanwhile, the evil wizard had been studying the device and places it down near the mirror while he meditates and it ends up succeeding in destroying the mirror. Che Kwan Yu is able to use the distraction to free Pao Ta-Hsiung and Hsiao Yu and they make their escape. Meanwhile, the evil wizard has Hsiang Chou-Tien’s son captured and uses him as bait in order to trap Ma Chan-Chen, who he suspects has turned against Black. Ma Chan-Chen goes to free him only to be confronted by Black and during the fight, Hsiang Chou-Tien’s son is knocked into the pool of acid and killed. Ma Chan-Chen escapes and goes to get her mother but they are attacked by the guards and Yen C is killed. Ma Chan-Chen continues to run and encounters Black but she is saved by Che Kwan Yu and Pao Ta-Hsiung. The three meet up with Hsiao Yu and Hou Ping and make a plan to destroy the Dragon’s Head. Hou Ping goes to grab the Dragon’s Head, convincing the wizard’s assistant to let him steal it. However, the wizard catches him and Hsiao Yu tries to save him. Ma Chan-Chen is fighting with Black but goes to help Hsiao Yu. When the wizard’s assistant gets a hold of the stick, everyone asks her to give it to them but she ends up giving it to Hou Ping. The wizard kills the assistant then knocks Hou Ping over the rail overlooking the volcano. The heat from the volcano burns Hou Ping’s legs but he refuses to drop the stick until it is noon, as the stick will not work until then. When Hou Ping finally sacrifices himself, the resulting explosion knocks Black and the wizard off their feet and destroys the wizard’s prison. Ma Chan-Chen, Che Kwan Yu, and Pao Ta-Ksiung combine their attacks and kill Black, but Pao Ta-Ksiung dies as well. Ma Chan-Chen, Che Kwan Yu, and Hsiao Yu then work together to kill the wizard and finally bring peace back to Phoenix Island.
Man, this was one confusing movie. The acting was ok I guess, though it was a little hard to tell with the dubbing. The basic story sounded good but they way they developed it just made it overly confusing and hard to follow at times. The fight scenes were definitely the best part of this movie and several of them were very entertaining, although some of the ones involving Hou Ping were pretty ridiculous and a little too comical at times. Not completely terrible, but definitely not something I would go out of my way to watch again.
Rating: 2 out of 5