Cover: 8 Masters Rating: 6
Oct 6, 2008


Director:Joseph Kuo
Writer:Ping Han Chiang, Joseph Kuo, Ming-lien Tsui
Producer:Joseph Kuo
Studio:Hong Hwa International Films
Genre:Kung Fu
Aspect Ratio:2.35 : 1
Picture Format:Widescreen
Release:Sep 2002


EIGHT MASTERS (1977) is part of the 18 BRONZEMEN series of kung fu films produced in Taiwan by Joseph Kuo. Not exactly a sequel to the previous films in the series (although it was long available only in a ... VHS edition under the title, 18 BRONZEMEN 3), it nonetheless features series regular Carter Wong as a student who undergoes years of training at Shaolin Temple, beginning as a child, and graduates by fighting the 18 Bronzemen in a series of contests. After the first half-hour, the story takes a different turn as Chu Shiao Chieh (Carter) reunites with his now-blind mother and meets Ming Chu (Lung Chun Erh), the girl who's been taking care of her and whom Mom now wants Carter to marry. Unfortunately, the Eight Masters of the title won't let things rest and persist in harassing Carter, demanding a match with him in order to allow them to avenge the death of one of their number at the hands of Carter's father (in a fight seen under the film's opening credits).
Carter tries to avoid fighting so as to live up to his Shaolin master's admonitions: "Keep the peace; have patience; forgive offense." Eventually it becomes too much for him and he takes on all eight of the masters in a series of furious kung fu fights, all masterfully staged by Wong Fei Lung, who also appears in the role of the chief villain, Tu Lung. Female star Chia Ling has a small but important role as one of the eight and has one great fight scene with Carter. Miss Chia (aka Judy Lee) was one of the greatest of '70s kung fu divas and her appearance elevates the film by a few notches.
The lead actress, Lung Chun Erh (SHAOLIN INVINCIBLES, THE STOMP), co-stars as Ming Chu and gets plenty of opportunities to emote as she's torn between her growing love for Carter and loyalty to a mysterious "uncle" who keeps appearing at night to demand that she betray Carter. She has some highly emotional scenes, helped considerably by superb English voice dubbing (well above average for the entire cast).
Ultimately, however, the chief draw of this film remains the abundant kung fu, especially in the nonstop series of final battles. This DVD was made from a high-quality print and superb transfer, suffering only from the lack of letter-boxing, which kung fu films like this so sorely need in order to show off all the fight action. In addition there's an evocative and dramatic original Chinese music score.