Bruce Li The Invincible (1978, directed by Law Kai Shuk)


Because he’s immature and unpatriotic, Cheng (Michael Chan Wai Man) is kicked out of the local kung fu school and exiled from China.  Before leaving, he promises his teacher that he will go to Malaysia and change his ways.  Instead, he goes to Malaysia and sets himself as a local crime lord.  Along with extorting businesses, running a gambling den, and kidnapping female tourists, Chen also trains a group of gorillas to serve as his own persona army.  Realizing that Chen needs to be brought back to the school, three men head to Malaysia to take him down.  Bruce Li, the most successful of the Bruce Lee imitators to spring up after Lee’s death, plays Yo Fung, one of them three men.  According to the film’s title, he’s invincible.  Personally, I like the idea of naming a movie after its star.  Would Once Upon A Time In Hollywood have won more Oscars if it had been called Brad Pitt The Indestructible?  I think we all know that it would have.

Even by the standards of 70s Bruceploitation, Bruce Li The Invincible is incoherent.  According to the imdb, Bruce Li The Invincible has a running time of 92 minutes.  The version I saw was badly dubbed into English and only ran for 84 minutes so it seems probable that, like a lot of kung fu films, this one was re-edited for distribution in the U.S.  Maybe the full 92 version explains how Cheng became so powerful so quickly or why Bruce Li and his allies end up having to fight two well-trained gorillas when they arrive in Malaysia.  The film never makes it clear whether the gorillas are supposed to be actual gorillas or if they’re supposed to be goons who chose to put on gorilla costumes before attacking their targets.

Luckily, even if the plot doesn’t make any sense, the fight scenes are pretty good.  That includes the fights with the gorillas.  In fact, the gorilla fights are the main reason to see this movie.  Just when you think that you’ve seen everything that Bruceploitation genre has to offer, Bruce Li is suddenly getting jumped by a man wearing a gorilla costume.  That was more than worth the 84 minutes that I spent watching this movie.  Though this movie may be frequently confusing, the gorillas are pretty damn cool.

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