Celebrating the world of supernatural kung-fu
The 1980s were a great period for cinema, heralding original ideas and forward thinking, which is now being reprocessed by a Hollywood bereft of the risk and daring associated with the decade in the first place.
Of course, Hong Kong action cinema was no different. Jackie Chan had just signed with Golden Harvest, a young Yuen Biao had shown his acrobatic prowess in Knockabout (1984) and Sammo Hung (Kam-Bo ) was busy making the innovative Encounter Of The Spooky Kind (1980) hence giving birth to ‘the supernatural kung fu’ genre.
Sammo included kung fu action, comedy and traditional ghost stories to produce something of brilliance. However, even though this was a fantastic offshoot from traditional kung fu, it was also a frustrating one, as so few of the films held up to the early promise. Are there reasons for this decline from such great pictures? And can the twenty-first century give rise to more hopping vampires?
There had been a few kung fu films in the 70s that contained supernatural elements. Phantom Kun Fu (1979) featured zombies and people returning from the dead, while Jackie Chan’s Spiritual Kung-Fu (1978) included ghosts with orange wigs and Hawaiian shirts. Needless to say, neither was a hit.