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Best 1970s Kung Fu Movies From Hong Kong

Updated on May 9, 2016
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish has been a professional writer and critic of films, books, music and theater for over 20 years.


The 1970s Kung Fu Movie Traditions

Martial arts tournaments were introduced into some of the Midwest States during the1970s, many years later after the famous master Jhoon Rhee brought Taekwondo to Indiana in 1956. Illinois residents made these tournaments very popular and filled large martial arts studios as well before the activity was known by many people in Ohio.

Martial arts films from Hong Kong soon followed the tournaments into Ohio and the rest of the Midwest. These are films made in the 1970s were unknown to most of us until they were rerun on late night television on local metro shows like Kung Fu Theater.


The host of the show was a local martial arts promoter in our large city that was still behind the times in martial arts. Very few dojos, dojangs, or kwoons in this town, but The Ohio State university offered judo classes.


The television show had a small live studio audience and during commercial breaks, the host of the program would bring out an audience member and teach them a fun but ineffective martial arts technique.I hope no one tried to use those moves in real life.

We laughed more at the on screen lessons then we did at the films, but all were very funny. Today, many of the old Hong Kong martial arts films are cult classics that cause people to stay up very late to catch them on broadcast and cable TV stations.

In the 1980s, USA Network Broadcast Their Own Kung Fu Theater

Martial Arts And Films

Martial arts tournaments were just beginning in our city in the 1980s and they consisted of boxing matches in which opponents each were required to throw one kick per round or be disqualified. Times surely have changed.

For practical purposes, Olympic Taekwondo matches are all kicks and hand techniques score no points.

Today I look back on the commercial breaks during Kung Fu Theater and laugh. They were silly, but entertaining.

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Return Of The Five Venoms
Return Of The Five Venoms
Return Of The Five Venoms | Source

Kung Fu Theater

Kung Fu Theater presented a series of films acted by a group of contract players in Hong Kong. The program host entitled them,The Tales of Golden Arm for his late night series. Their given titles began with The Kid with the Golden Arm.

The films were dubbed with English by a consistent set of voice actors and the lips and speeches rarely matched. The voice actors also overacted from time to time, but this added to the fun. Some of the same over acting occurs when Alton Brown translates for a Japanese on the USA Iron Chef team today.

Iron Chef Morimoto can speak English fairly well but perhaps not as quickly as the pacing of the program requires. However, AB lends a touch of kung fu movie spoof to the voiceover that I think he does not even intend to apply. Much fun! It reminds me of The Tales of Golden Arm and makes me laugh. I hope Morimoto is not offended.

10 Great Moves From "Golden Arm" - As Seen On Kung Fu Theater

Surreal And Action Packed named "Kid With The Golden Arm" as Number 20 on their list of the 100 Best Martial Arts Films ever.

Famous 5-5-5

The Kid With the Golden Arm was a 1979 production of the Shaw Brothers, who brought the world a long line of kung fu films. Lo Meng (or Lo Mang, and several other stage names) starred as the kid that had the golden arm, the youngest of a fighting clan.

Lo Meng was a member of an actual group of martial artists called the Venom Mob, whose members also acted.

Besides the golden armed kid, Lo Mang's most famous role was Toad in 1978's Five Deadly Venoms. These are the films that I enjoyed on Kung Fu Theater, along with Return Of the 5 Deadly Venoms (or Crippled Avengers), Five Element Ninjas, and Ten Tigers from Kwangtung.

Lo Meng Since 1980

The martial artist Lo Meng continues to act, but in the 2010s, turned his energies to comedy for Hong Kong television shows as Lo Wang.

He also choreographs martial arts films in the tradition of the Venom Mob and Shaw Brothers Studios.

In the Kid with the Golden Arm, he plays Boss Golden Arms.

From 1976 through May 2016, he worked in 81 movies.

Five Deadly Venoms

Classic 1970s Kung Fu

Kid With the Golden Arm

The Chinese person Yang Yu Heng is asked by his government to guard a gold shipment traveling into a region fraught with famine. This is difficult, because he must confront the Chi Sah gang that broadcasts its strength in leader Golden Arm (Lo Meng), Silver Spear, Iron Robe, and Brass Head. They are dangerous and deadly men of kung fu (wushu) expertise.

Yang Yu Heng must protect the gold shipment from this gang of kung fu fighters. To do so, he hires another cast of colorful fighting characters. He hires the swordsman Li Chin Ming and his girlfriend, Miss Leng, along with the team of Short Axe and Long Axe, and finally, the drunken kung fu master Hai To.

This film has all the elements of a good comedy, although it was not meant to be so. It is a little like Kung Fu Hustle, another of my favorites; but also reminds me of the book series beginning with Number Ten Ox.

Finally, it is like Grandmaster Jhoon Rhee's When Taekwondo Strikes, but a humorous, distorted version. All of these stories are either entertaining, inspiring, or both.

Chinese jars of wine.
Chinese jars of wine. | Source

Jars Of Wine

Drinking is heavily involved in The Kid With the Golden Arm, as indicated by the drunken master and the wineries visited. Fighters drink many jars of wine. This all serves to being additional, almost slapstick, humor to the plot in the 1970s and its several fight scenes.

I won't give away much more of the story, except to say that Miss Leng survives to take on an important duty,

In 2016, Lo Meng remains active in film and television productions at the age of 62, acting as a comedian and action choreographer. He has maintained his martial arts and physical fitness status well beyond the end of the cult kung fu films he made.

Among his current work is the 2010 biographical film Ip Man, based on the life of the well known, historical martial arts practitioner of the same name.

Classic Fight Scene from Golden Arm

© 2010 Patty Inglish MS


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    • Patty Inglish, MS profile imageAUTHOR

      Patty Inglish MS 

      2 years ago from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation

      @Dale Anderson - That was a wonderful experience, wasn't it? We had a guy in my town who did a Kung Fu movie presentation on Fridays and hew was kind of goofy, but the movies were good. I always remember Golden Arm.

      Thanks for commenting.

    • GetitScene profile image

      Dale Anderson 

      2 years ago from The High Seas

      Grew up on kung-fu movies like these. Didn't have a dad but had three kindly uncles who would take me to see these movies at the drive-in. Great times that I remember with much warm affection.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      9 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Patty, This is a great hub. I remember watching this movies with my boys and they loved the.

    • annathequietone profile image


      9 years ago from the big state of Texas


    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      I remember some of these :)

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      9 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      Great review. I do not care for those kind of movies, but I still enjoyed the hub

    • Connie Ho profile image

      Connie Ho 

      9 years ago from Quebec, Canada

      Great hub! Your knowledge of Kung Fu movie is awesome. Bruce Lee is the pioneer of all and other martial art movies follow suit. Cheers.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      9 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for your wonderful review.

    • suny51 profile image


      9 years ago

      I love to see all movies with martial arts as their theme,probably I have seen them all,in last forty years or so,there are so many T.V. channels showing them either with sub titles or dubbed versions.Thanks for sharing this.

    • Youngcurves19 profile image


      9 years ago from Hawaii

      What a Great picture!

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 

      9 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Good Evening Patty Inglish MS

      You have given a very crisp, efficient, thorough, and obviously very enthusiastic response to my question. But this isn't surprising given what we learn of your background from your profile page.

      You are more than qualified to act in such movies yourself, it seems, or perhaps be a fight scene coordinator. I don't know if you mentioned if you had any involvement in that. I just scanned your profile page very quickly before making a response.

      I note, too, that you are a "HubPages Elite" with over one thousand hubs and over two thousand followers. You sure do like to write!

      Thank you for your response. The Kid With The Golden Arms is one of my favorites as well. I like Shaw Brothers productions and I will watch almost anything with "The Venoms" in it. That group had such great chemistry.

      I enjoyed Invincible Shaolin a lot. This one starred all the Venoms proper plus the kid (in 5 deadly venoms the kid was the young man who learned all five styles of venom kung fu at the hands of the dying master; he had to team up with one of the venoms to defeat the rest and so forth).

      The plot of Invincible Shaolin was simpler and more direct, but I liked it for that. It pitted North Shaolin against South Shaolin with a Manchu general scheming to destroy both schools. A classic!

      There's a great one I recently discovered on YouTube called Ten Tigers of Shaolin (not Ten Tigers of Kwantung). The Kung Fu is simply superb.

      Avenging Eagle is a wonderful film. The plot is very simple, direct; its a tightly constructed, fast moving story about a man who'd formerly been a member of a bandit gang called the Eagles. His heart had been changed by love. The gang killed the only woman, the only person he had ever loved. So, he takes his revenge by breaking from the gang, and then seeking them out to kill them all, including the leader of the Eagles.

      Born Invincible. I had been pleasantly surprised when I first saw that one. Carter Wong had finally gotten a good role, with a smooth, elegant style of Kug Fu. I didn't like how they managed to kill him in the end, by tricking him into laughing. That was so weak!!!!

      Well, take it light and see you around.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      I can remember seeing some early King Fu movies made in Hong Kong with English voice-overs and the best and funniest thing about the films was the voice-over that never quite matched the action of the characters. Hilarious. Thanks for the deja-vu.


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