The Eight Masters (1976)

Directed by
Action-packed old school classic
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-05-05

A young boy is taken to Shaolin Temple to hide from the masters of the Eight Great Sects, who have a grudge against his father. The boy trains there for 18 years then takes the 18 Bronzemen challenge and leaves the temple. He seeks out his mother and learns he is betrothed to the daughter of the man who rescued him. But the Eight Sects learn of his reappearance and issue a challenge.

Carter Wong takes the lead firmly in his hands, and the film is at least as good a showcase of his skills as RETURN OF THE 18 BRONZEMEN, helped by some really lively choreography by Huang Feilong and some energetic camera work.

I find it hard to believe that this film was directed in 1976, as it seems leaps and bounds above Joseph Kuo's other films from that year. It is basically a fusion of The 18 Bronzemen and 7 Grandmasters... so I guess it would make sense if it came out between them, though it feels more like a progression.

The plot is interesting, as much as I could make sense of it with subtitles generated by Whisper. It follows a fairly typical revenge formula, but gives the characters more interesting motivations than is often the case. I had the German subtitles running in parallel, but they are dubtitles and invent a completely different plot for the film... closer to the generic template.

The film is action packed, and at only 78 minutes long it's a miracle they manage to fit any plot at all between the fight scenes, let alone an actually good one.

I've become accustomed to Joseph Kuo films being a little bit disappointing, but The Eight Masters bucks the trend and is perhaps my favourite so far. Essential viewing for kung fu fans. The finale is especially wild, more like something you'd expect to find in a Yuen Clan movie than a Joseph Kuo film.