Pulpmovies Cult Film Reviews
Following their humiliation and that of their master at the hands of a newly arrived martial artist calling himself the corrector of bad kung-fu, the three students of the - very small - school agree to abandon their injured master and seek training elsewhere in order to return and avenge themselves and their master. Agreeing to return in six months, they leave, quietly and in the middle of the (really quite sunny) night.
On awakening to find himself abandoned, the master becomes despondent and, following yet another humiliation at the hands of the same character, quickly slides into a permanent state of drunkenness.
Meanwhile, the three students meet an unlikely assortment of kung-fu masters and proceed to badger and plead their way into becoming students. The comic possibilities of having the students trained by non-traditional (to say the least) teachers is explored to the full extent of the scriptwriters clearly limited talent - assuming, of course, that a scriptwriter was involved.
The first student comes across a widowed bean-curd seller being harassed by the local rich and unsavoury character and a couple of his thugs. Of course, he rushes in to help and succeeds only in getting in the way as the woman proceeds to beat and humiliate her aggressors. Recognising talent when he sees it, the student follows her home and manages to talk her into not only feeding him, but also giving him a bed for the night and taking him on as a labourer. We then get to watch him trying to learn from her without actually asking to be taken on as a student.
The second of the three finds himself having to flee from a town after some appallingly ill-advised gambling. Being one of the good guys, he decides to take out his frustrations on a drunken cripple… and is promptly humiliated. So hes found his teacher.
The third student witnesses a fishermans workout and, after deciding to lie his way out of a moral dilemma, transitions from fish thief to fisherman and student. Of the three masters, the fisherman has the least comic value (specifically, none) so we dont see much of this student for a while.
Suddenly - very suddenly - six months have passed and its time for the three students to head for home. On arrival, they find their master alone and pretty much drunk out of his skull… but its his birthday. Promising a present that their master will really like, the three students take him out for some a few drinks and a spot of food.
Once everyone is suitably sozzled, the corrector of bad kung-fu turns up and all is ready for the climactic battle…
Five Superfighters is the sort of exploitation kung-fu movie that was churned out by Hong Kong based Shaw Brothers studios throughout the 70s. Its cheap, badly choreographed, badly dubbed and lumbered with a plot that is little more than a vehicle for getting from one fight to the next.
Earlier on in this review, I questioned the assumption that a scriptwriter was involved in the making of the film. And its not an entirely flippant remark. The storylines for many of the films made by the Shaw Brothers at this time were made up as filming progressed giving rise to uneven plots full of holes so wide that metaphors fail me. Storyline, characterisation, even suspense, all fall far behind the primary aim of the film which is to achieve as much action and/or comedy (and I am using comedy in the most generous sense here) for as little budget as possible.
Kung-Fu movies have a lot in common with westerns in that they tend to be centred on themes of honour and revenge. In this case, the teacher is humiliated and his students seek to take revenge and to restore their master’s honour. Unfortunately, in this case, what little characterisation there is manages to completely undermine the storyline.
That said, the action sequences are plentiful and impressive and the comedy – both intentional and unintentional – kept me laughing throughout. And th