Watch The Crippled Masters
- 1 hr 28 min
The Crippled Masters is a martial arts film produced in Hong Kong in 1979. Directed by Joe Law and starring Sung-Chuan Shen, Chao-Ming Kang, and Chiu Ho, the movie follows the story of two men who have suffered horrific disabilities and come together to learn kung fu as a means to protect themselves against those who seek to exploit them.
The film begins with the wonderful and physically gifted Lo Tien (Shen), who, after a brutal assault, finds himself without arms. Struggling to deal with the aftermath of the attack, Lo is approached by a renowned kung fu master who offers to teach him the ways of the martial arts so he can defend himself. However, when the master sees the severity of Lo's injuries, he discovers that this will be an impossible task, as he will not be able to physically strike his opponents with his arms or hands.
Meanwhile, the cunning, yet treacherous, Chin Hua (Ho) is leading a criminal enterprise, which involves kidnapping and exploiting disabled people. Chin Hua becomes aware of Lo's predicament and sees him as an ideal candidate for his nefarious schemes. Luring Lo into his den of crime, Chin Hua cripples both of his legs, rendering him helpless.
It is at this point that the film introduces our other protagonist, Little John (Kang), who is also a victim of Chin Hua's devious ways. Little John was born with stunted legs that prevent him from walking more than a few steps at a time. When Chin Hua learns of Little John's ability to deliver deadly blows with his hands, he too lures him to his hideout, rendering him helpless by severing his Achilles tendon.
With both of our heroes now crippled, but determined to overcome their disabilities, Lo and Little John come together to find a way to defend themselves against Chin Hua and his cohorts. Through a series of punishing training sequences, they learn how to use their torsos, elbows, and thighs as devastating weapons â perfecting a new form of kung fu that suits their particular needs.
Their hard work pays off when they face Chin Hua and his men in a fierce battle, where Lo and Little John use their newly acquired fighting skills to overcome their oppressors.
The Crippled Masters is undoubtedly one of the most unusual and politically incorrect martial arts movies of its time. Featuring two physically disabled protagonists who use their handicaps as weapons, the film challenged the traditional portrayal of kung fu heroes. The filmmakers turned the very disabilities that usually marginalize people into strengths that could be used to not only defend themselves but also counteract ableist discrimination.
Visually, the film is quite stunning. The camera captures the remarkable physical abilities of the actors with impressive precision, highlighting their struggles and ultimate triumphs. The fight scenes are well choreographed and are filled with impressive and innovative moves that showcase the new kung fu style.
However, the film isn't without its flaws. The acting is cheesy at times, the script could have been better written, and the movie's pacing feels uneven. Although the protagonists' disabilities are technically the focal point of the movie, the villain and his evil deeds often overshadow this aspect, making the film feel more like a typical kung fu adventure.
Despite the film's shortcomings, The Crippled Masters is still an extraordinary piece of cinema that deserves to be seen. It made a significant contribution to changing the way disability was represented and used as an empowering force in martial art films, paving the way for other movies to explore the same themes. The movie is a testament to the human spirit and the power of the human body to overcome adversity.
The Crippled Masters is a 1979 action movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 5.7.