The Mystery of Chess Boxing (1979)

Directed by
Incredibly basic kung fu revenge story
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-06-15

Ghost Face Killer is tracking down the kung fu masters who teamed up to take him down 15 years ago, one by one. One of their kids seeks to learn kung fu to take revenge, and happens to bump into two of the masters and learns some skills, just in time for the villain's final appearance.

This low budget indie kung fu comedy has a famous name, but I think that's probably more for its association with Wu Tang Clan than for the film itself, which is as absolutely basic a piece of Jackiesploitation as you could ever hope to see.

Li Yi-Min, Jack Long and Mark Long are all very capable performers, but the fights lean heavily into the "Let's stand a few metres apart and make interesting shapes in a vaguely threatening way, then do some somersaults" school of choreography (no surprise it's a Venom leading the team). It's impressive as a demonstration of physicality but the best fights tell a story and have their own plot, they are a form of dialogue. The fights here have nothing to say.

I know there are people that love this, and that's fine - good, in fact. Enjoy whatever you can, I promise nobody is going to be lying on their deathbed regretting having a good time watching a movie.