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DrNgor

Kung Fu Kids IV (1987)

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Kung Fu Kids IV (1987)

Starring: Tso Hsiao-Hu, Yan Tseng-Kuo, Chen Chung-Jung, David Wu, Paul Chang Cheng, Kwan Hung, Lung Tien-Hsiang
Director: Chang Peng-I
Action Director: Lam Maang-Cheung

After a strange and unwelcome detour into period melodrama with Kung Fu Kids III, the next sequel takes us back to familiar territory, albeit with a time travel twist to it. Not only does it involve time travel, but one the characters doing the time travel thing is none other than Huo Yuan-Jia, 30 years before Kung Fu Big League did the same thing!

In the late Qing Dynasty, a group of Japanese martial artists led by Lung Tien-Hsiang (Sword Stained with Royal Blood and Five Element Ninjas) are terrorizing the countryside, taking down kung fu school signboards and killing their students. The Japanese go after Master Huo, father of the legendary of Huo Yuanjia (played by Tso Hsiao-Hu, who would show up in City of Darkness a decade later). Little Huo goes to his teacher, a Taoist sorcerer, to help him prepare for a forthcoming duel with the Japanese. The sorcerer casts a spell that opens a time tunnel that transports Huo across time (and space) from Southern China circa 1880 to modern day Taiwan.

Meanwhile, a paramilitary outfit led by The General (Paul Chang Cheng, of Eight Hundred Heroes and Kung Fu vs. Yoga) is testing a new secret weapon: a laser gun. When the General tries to test it on the very scientist who made, the scientist steals the crystal that powers the weapon and makes a run for it. He gets shot by guards while escaping from their underground compound, but makes it onto the grounds of a neighboring summer camp for children before dying. He entrusts the crystal to Fatso (Cheng Chung-Jung) and Aqua (Yan Tseng-Kuo), who have just ran into Huo, before dying. Fatso and Aqua dismiss Huo as a kid who watches too many kung fu movies, and send him on his way.

So the General’s men start harassing the kids in search of Huo, since he had left his jacket on the scientist before he died. Aqua figures out that Huo really is who he says he is, after looking at posters for Alien and My Science Project and having an epiphany about time tunnels (I swear I’m not making this up). They rescue him from the General’s men and take him to their place, where their kung fu teacher and grandfather is a master of the same style as Huo’s. He begins to train all three of them. Plus, there’s a young inventor (David Wu, of Tiger Cage 2 and In the Line of Duty V) and his robot assistant who might be able to harnass the power of the crystal to open the time tunnel again.

 Yeah, it’s nonsense. But it’s fairly-entertaining nonsense, mixing old school kung fu tropes with science fiction and the usual kids acting bratty hijinks. Less patient viewers may get a bit antsy during the first hour, where the fighting is restrained and short, but I’m sure that the 3 Ninjas never had a film where a young Hattori Hanzo gets transported to their time to train with Victor Wong.

 The action is once more provided by Taiwanese dynamo Lam Maang-Cheung. He really cuts loose during the last half hour, with four big set pieces for our child stars—and the guy who plays their grandfather (Lung Hsiung, perhaps?), to really shine. The first big fight is at David Wu’s workshop, as the General’s men show up to kidnap our heroes. The fighting is left in the hands of Tso Hsiao-Hu and Yan Tseng-Kuo, as David Wu’s character is a thinker, not a fighter. Tso does some nice acrobatic kicks, including a butterfly spin-followed-by-a-spin kick that he’s done in other films.

In the next sequence, Yan Tseng-Kuo and his grandfather invade the General’s secret hideout to rescue the others. Yan fights with an umbrella for much of this fight, while the grandfather (and his stunt double?) go wicked with the shapes and kicks. They eventually free the others, and Tso Hsiao-Hu also gets up in on the madness. Another fight breaks out at a construction site as the heroes are preparing the time tunnel to transport Huo Yuanjia back to his time (and place). The grandpa goes nuts with the neck breaking and throat collapsing during this skirmish.

 The finale is set in period, as our three young heroes take on the Japanese fighters. Yan Tseng-Kuo takes on a bunch of fighters armed with swords and spears and holds his own, without any weapons. Tso Hsiao-Hu takes on the lead Japanese fighter, armed with a naginata. Tso actually whips out the nunchaku briefly, but mainly relies on his aerial kicks to win. And Fatso is a comic foil as always, taking on a Japanese fighter with a remote-controlled car. In the end, our heroes are victorious, Aqua and Fatso go back to the present, but end up in the annals of kung fu history forever.

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On 7/4/2019 at 4:15 PM, Secret Executioner said:

The full film is available on Wu Tang Collection's YouTube channel - as are parts 5 and 6.

That's how I'm watching them. They are spectacularly hard to find, especially after part 2 (I think the first two showed up on a Jackie Chan collection in the UK). The ones that the Wu Tang Collection show are dubbed in English with Greek subtitles.

I've found 1, 2 and 5 on Brazilian VHS over here. Another place sells DVD-r's of the first five (ripped from Brazilian VHS).

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21 hours ago, DrNgor said:

(I think the first two showed up on a Jackie Chan collection in the UK).

I remember seeing that, this was either an in-name only Jackie collection or it had like half of the movies being slightly Jackie-related (old movies where he barely appears and/or has a very secondary role) and the rest having positively nothing to do with him.

 

Edit: just found it on amazon.com.

https://www.amazon.com/Jackie-Chan-Karate-Kids-Film/dp/B0039ZF85K

Edited by Secret Executioner

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