Apparently, a homage to Jason Pai in the film 黃飛鴻與鬼腳七. The ingenious kicking techniques are developed by Yuen Biao. The gigantic Xiangqi is impressive. This film is lesser known than "Once Upon a Time in China Ⅲ" that was released at almost the same time, but has its own unique idea. It should be revisited.
Homage to Jason Pai
The original film title directly translated as "Wong Fei-hung‘s Kwai Kok Qi". "Kwai Kok Qi" is the name of a disciple of Wong Fei-hung. "Kwai Kok" means Ghost Leg. This is his sobriquet. Qi means Seven, his name.
First of all, there is the film 黃飛鴻與鬼腳七 (Wong Fei-hung and Kwai Kok Qi）in 1980. Qi seems a fictional character originally created for this film, not a real person in history.
According to Baidu Baike, the protagonists of the film are brother and sister who try to learn Kung Fu for the vengeance of their father. Qi is one of their teachers.
A famous actor Jason Pai played Qi. His Cantonese name is 白彪 (Pak Piu). Yuen Biao’s Cantonese name is 元彪 (Yuen Piu). Look, both actors have the character 彪 (Piu) which means "Little tiger" in their name.
白彪 and 黃飛鴻與鬼腳七 in 1980, 元彪 and 黃飛鴻之鬼腳七 in 1993. Both "彪" actors play 鬼腳七. So, 黃飛鴻之鬼腳七 is apparently a homage. You can guess this link only from the Chinese letters. That’s why I always require the original film title and the original character name.
Successive release of two Qi films in 1993
The character Qi was remaked in 黃飛鴻之三：獅王爭霸 (Once Upon a Time in China Ⅲ) in 1993. You surely remember the character called "Club Foot" in English version played by Hung Yan-yan. He is Kwai Kok Qi.
黃飛鴻之鬼腳七 was released in 06 February 1993. 黃飛鴻之三：獅王爭霸 was first released in 24 December 1992 in Taiwan, then 14 February 1993 in Hong Kong. It’s interesting that the both film featuring Qi were successively released for the New Year fest.
It could be a simple coincidence, but it reminds me the relation between 醉拳Ⅱ (Drunken Master Ⅱ) and 醉拳Ⅲ (Drunken Master Ⅲ). I think that some secrets are still veiled behind these productions.
Produced, action directed and starred by Yuen Biao
This is the last film produced by Yuen Biao. The budget shown on the trailer is 50 million HKD. Yuen Biao is working also as the action director and the leading actor. Kung Fu developed and demonstrated by himself is amazing. As Qi’s sobriquet "Ghost Leg" represents, the kicking techniques are fully featured.
Yuen Biao’s kicks are ingenious. He is mixing some other martial arts techniques with the traditional Kung Fu. The first battle in the ship restaurant is already astonishing. I repeated the scene again and again.
Actually, the protagonist is Qi played by Yuen Biao. Wong Fei-hung doesn’t appear. In this story, Qi is reinterpreted as pre-disciple of Wong Fei-hung. So, the story can be a prequel of 黃飛鴻與鬼腳七.
There are two charming actresses. They are honestly not so featured, but their appearances can be a motivation to pick this film. Shirley Lui is the heroine, but it’s almost a guest appearance. She doesn’t often appear on the screen. Actually, Sheila Chan is more visible, she appears as a member of Po Chi Lam. She is basically comic relief, has a small Kung Fu scene. The comedy into the daily life in Po Chi Lam is very good.
Familiar faces from Shaw Brothers to Golden Harvest
The famous villain actor Yen Shi-Kwan who is perhaps the most widely known from 笑拳怪招 plays a honest commissioned officer called Gold Panther. He is an expert of kicking, finally became a sort of Qi’s master. That was a big surprise.
The director is Wu Ma. He also appears as a member of Po Chi Lam, but he doesn’t know Kung Fu. I don’t know if he was really a necessary character or not.
Yuen Wah is the villain as usual of the 90s film. Tai Bo plays Min who is an old friend of Qi, but a traitor. Both are the conventional roles. Anyway, Min was killed in vain into the brawl. That makes no sense, Tai Bo is a skilled actor. He must be a little more featured.
The film remains lesser known
The fatal weakness of this film is the process and the conclusion to the final battle. It’s unfortunately too busy and rough, perhaps due to the script change on the spot. It’s a sort of tradition in Hong Kong cinema before the 00s. This film could have been better. There are certain appraisable unique ideas.
Apparently, Qi has been learning Kung Fu from Gold Panther. So, he takes the final exam. The gigantic Xiangqi, kick and play. This idea is marvellous. This game is a great feature of this film, nevertheless the match is too brief. Qi soon inherits Gold Panther’s golden shoes.
The flying shoe and the mysterious third leg
The golden shoes can be considered as the proof of the master of kicking. However, the usage of the golden shoes is a little different from my expectation. At last, the left shoe broken instead of saving Qi’s life from the deadly bullet. Then, the right shoe was used as a projectile against the enemy’s handgun. Yes, the projectile.
Instead of the lost weapons, the mysterious "third leg" emerges from Qi’s leg. It happens two times without reason. This might be "Ghost Leg". I absolutely don’t know why it happens. If the golden shoes hold the magical power, but the shoes are already lost. So, Qi developed his Stand or something? I thought that Ghost Leg was a metaphor, but it was literally the ghost. The film turns into a fantasy, suddenly.
My expectation was, Qi armed with the golden shoes would explode a Super Combo against the enemy. Actually, the golden shoes didn’t change the situation dramatically. Ghost Leg didin’t make the fatal hits neither. It’s nevertheless disappointing.
The accidental finish
Besides, the villain dies due to the accident. A huge chandelier on where he was fighting, crashed down to the ground. Then, he was already dead. Something went wrong.
Yuen Wah is a natural born comedian. His character’s death is definitely weird. It’s a fate. I still don’t recognize the clear cause of his death. His end was fantastic also in The Final Test. Anyway, the final battle is intense. It’s a great duel, Expert vs Expert. If the conclusion was better, this film could have been more appreciated.
Japanese publisher always tries to exploit the big title. They "arbitrary" defined this film as a spin-off of "Once Upon a Time in China". Actually, this film is a sort of prequel of 黃飛鴻與鬼腳七. They should not confuse the customer by the hypothesis contrary to fact.
Awful quality of the DVD
VHS and DVD version are released in Japan. I have the DVD, but it’s merely a record of the VHS. I don’t care the menu or some other DVD features, but I never admit this awful picture and sound quality as the DVD. The master VHS is very used. The quality of an old rental VHS. This Japanese version DVD is worthless. You can find better quality VHS. A used DVD is over 20 USD, on the other hand, a used VHS is often under 5 USD.
Another two films
Yuen Biao produced another two films. Both are released in Japan. I saw 西藏小子 long before, but I don’t know 執法先鋒 yet. I found this DVD on Amazon Japan, but it’s 70 USD. It’s absurd, the price is higher than the original though it’s used. So, I picked an ex-rental VHS with 10 USD including the shipping fee. I’ll watch it later.