Spiritual Kung Fu | aka Karate Bomber (1978) Review

"Spiritual Kung Fu" Japanese Theatrical Poster

"Spiritual Kung Fu" Japanese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Karate Ghostbuster
Director: Lo Wei
Writer: Poon Lui
Producer: Lo Wei
Cast: Jackie Chan, James Tien Chun, Mo Man Sau, Lee Tung Chun, Lee Kwan, Dean Shek Tien, Ko Keung, Lee Hoi Lung, Lee Man Tai, Wong Kwong Yue, Yuen Biao
Running Time: 91 min.

By JJ Hatfield

Spiritual Kung Fu is an odd mix of virtually no plot, infantile Lo Wei humor and some fantastic action. Whether or not the viewer will be able to tolerate what comes before the action is an unknown.

Jackie plays Ye-Lang a young man who has lived his life at the Shaolin Monastery. He is of course very naughty, lazy, the typical uncooperative however Lo Wei seemed to go out of his way to force Jackie into some of the worst comedic crap ever. Let’s see we have Ye-Lang stuffing small wildlife in his pants (frogs, eels, fish, who knows), a ton of not funny “spiritual” jokes, trying to deceive a blind Shaolin Master. I better stop there as I would just hate to spoil any giggles for anyone.

There is something of a plot and actually a couple of betrayal and twists. An ancient text “The Five Fists” or “Five Star Fists” (don’t quote me the subtitles kept changing). This is one of “those” ancient texts which contains some sort of un-defeatable form or style. Ye- Lang happens to discover this old kung fu manual and also has five spirits he forces to teach him. Last word on warnings – the five ghosts wear white leotards and tights with little white tutu’s and sport bright orange hair.

The movie will be progressing okay and then suddenly we have Ye-Lang asking if an obvious female is a girl. Oh come on. No wonder the men in movies with women running around pretending to be guys are fooled!

There are maddening moments when action is interrupted but for the most part the fighting is solid with a cameo at the very end by… Find out for yourself.

This is not a classic but definitely worth a least one viewing.

JJ Hatfield’s Rating: 5.5/10

By Amir

Wow, this one is really sad. The so-called ghost effects are Z rated. The fights are decent I suppose, but nothing worth having to sit through everything else in between.

Amir’s Rating: 0/10

By Master of the Stick

Well, this wasn’t a great movie by any means, but it was better than I expected. I haven’t seen many of those Lo Wei films that everybody loves to gripe about, but this one’s okay by me. The fights were a little choppy, but they were pretty solid overall. I especially liked when Jackie had to pass the tests in order to leave the temple. Nothin’ beats a good, long, stick-fight! Unfortunately, the ghosts had flaming red hair, and on my dubbed copy, the actors’ voices bugged the hell out of me. One really cool thing about this movie, though: The five animal styles that the ghosts teach Jackie are the same five that Lei Wu Long uses in Tekken 3! Almost all of Lei’s moves are taken directly from Jackie Chan films, and I love finding movies where I can pick them out. If you can get past some corny-looking ghosts, give Spiritual Kung Fu a try.

Master of the Stick’s Rating: 6/10 (7/10 if you’re a Tekken fanatic like me)

By Rintor

5 guys in white unitards with long bright red hair scare me more than some psycho wielding an axe. If I had been Jackie I wouldn’t have pissed on them, they might’ve liked that. I would have used my Drunken Praying Mantis style and kicked all their @$$es. Was it me, or were those 5 ghosts always grabbing the men in the movie. Probably, Lo “Down” Wei did direct it. With the fruity ghosts aside this movie did have some humorous parts in it. And hey, it was better than Fantasy Mission Farce. Those cheesy effects were horrible. At least this time Joseph Yana didn’t kick down my door and say this was a 12/10. (We’re only safe from him for so long.) If you want to see a cheesy Kung fu movie from the 70’s I recommend this movie.

Rintor’s Rating: 6/10

By Numskull

For a Lo Wei movie, this ain’t bad, but when somebody releases a Limited Edition Collector’s Series of Jackie’s all-time greatest movies (you know, like the inserts in TV Guide), it’s doubtful that it will be included (unless Joseph Yana is in charge of selecting the titles…”Act now and the widescreen-format edition of FANTASY MISSION FORCE is yours for just $4.95 plus $25.00 shipping & handling. Other hits, such as MASTER WITH CRACKED FINGERS and James Glickenhaus’ original director’s cut of THE PROTECTOR will follow at a rate of one video every six weeks for $19.95 each plus shipping charges. Send in your order today!”). Jackie meets up with five bimbos in makeup who are unable to speak in even a half-way intelligent manner (gee, if this movie weren’t so old, I could swear they were the Spice Girls!). The fighting is OK, but the last of it would have been better off without the Spice-mime-spirit-bitches pawing at the bad guy (I’m not sure if they’re intentionally restricting his movement of if they’re just trying to get him out of his clothes in a frenzy of animal lust brought on by his big bald head). There is little else to say about this movie so here’s where I stop (I use lot’s of parentheticals, no?).

Numskull’s Rating: 6/10

By Andrew

Hmmm, I thought that this film was kind of funny in a Disneyland haunted house-esque kind of way. It could have been better if the ghosts looked like something other than funky kabuki dancers. Of course the scene where Jackie urinates on them to get them out of the corner of the room made sense… actually I think that kind of defines the whole film. Oh yeah, there’s some fighting too.

Andrew’s Rating: 5/10

By Dave Bell

We were getting ready to check out our latest Jackie Chan rental, “Spiritual Kung Fu” down at Crazy Willie’s 24 Hour Bistro and Diesel Station (on South Palo Verde) when my buddy Phil chimed in. One thing you have to know about Phil is that he never talks. Ever. And if you ask him a question, his response is always the same. “I dunno.”

He’s said the same thing all his life. “Hey Phil, you want to go see a movie or go putt-putt golfing?”

“I dunno. Maybe a movie.”

“Phillip, what is the capital of Oklahoma?”

“I dunno, Ms. Thornton. $1.95?”

“Phil, do you take Louise to be your lawfully wedded wife?”

“I dunno. Yeah, I guess.”

Maybe that’s why his marriage lasted only six months. Anyway, Phil chimed in before anybody talked to him. “I was thinking that Jackie Chan is like Batman.” That’s the other thing about Phil. Just because he doesn’t talk much doesn’t mean that the few things he says will be profound. “I’m serious. He’s like the pinnacle of human physical perfection. He’s built himself up and can do things others can’t, like Batman. He should play a super hero in a movie.” Are you serious? “I dunno.”

Anyway we watched “Spiritual King Fu” in which Jackie carries a saw horse with some bowls of water until this guy that looks like the dude that called David Caradine ‘grasshopper’ on Kung Fu said, “Hey check out my curve ball” and whacks Jackie on the bean. Later Jackie pulls guard duty in this temple that looks just like this cool Chinese restaurant in Snowflake Michigan that we got kicked out of once because we got drunk and started to play table hockey with the egg rolls, and is broken into by a ninja guy who steals the dummies to the latest Stephen King novel.

The leader of temple is upset because he hasn’t read the book yet so he says he’s going into the basement for contemplation over his failure and to finish off that shaker amoire that he saw on the New Yankee Workshop last week. Jackie gets three days in the cooler for not defending the temple along with the other guys that got ninja whupped. So Jackie figures he has to make up for lost time in the eating department by making his disgusting frog/chicken/eel/fish stew. So he gets naked and catches the fish and stuffs the frogs and eels down his pants (amphibian love!) and makes like the Frugal Gourmet. But grasshopper guy flips out and makes Jackie write “I will not eat invertebrates” 1,000 times on the blackboard with this giant pen that Gallagher used in his act once.

Meanwhile Ninja guy reads the book and says, “This sucks worse than Christine!” and tells his son, Ninja Jr. that he has to learn 7 fist style Kung Fu and beat up the guys at Bantam Books for giving King the advance. Back at the temple, some punk rock space alien ghosts smash in and freak the place out except for Jackie who can make his chest look just like the Time Tunnel, but not before they try to pants Jackie and give him a wedgie. Jackie tells them that they are pissing him off and he proves it, literally. Then Jackie finds a Barbara Cartland book that the punk rock ghosts live in and he makes them teach him the 5 in 1 style of Kung Fu and all about being an unfaithful wife and evil twin brother.

While this is going on Ninja Jr. has been going through the WBA circuit with a record of 29-0 all by K.O. He takes the title but still needs to unify the heavyweight crown. While Ninja Jr.’s out making pay-per-view deals, the leader of the Wu Tang Clan comes to the temple and says “We’re number 16 with a bullet on the Billboard charts!” and lets Jackie show his daughter around the place. Jackie tries to sneak a kiss and gets purse fu’d by the girl. So Jackie does some Rocky-style training, slaps on some Hi Karate after shave, and gets good enough to beat the girl.

Jackie goes mental and tries to spank her but she gets all huffy and says “I’m not into S&M unless I can be the dom. Call me Mistress Wu Tang, dog!” but her father dies before the movie goes porno. Ninja Jr. has now got both the WBA and IBF titles and only needs to whack the Wu Tang guys to unify. Jackie wants to find the guy that stole the book so he tells grasshopper guy that he wants to leave the temple and search. Grasshopper guy says that first Jackie has to beat up all the monks with a pair of police batons so Jackie makes like the LAPD and Rodney King’s them all. Ninja Jr. takes on Wu Tang’s daughter for the unified title but Jackie shows up and proceeds to get his butt whipped making Ninja Jr. the heavyweight champion of the world. Wu Tang tells him he can get his championship belts at the temple because they needed to be let out. So Ninja Jr. comes along and the grasshopper guy realizes that Ninja Jr. stole the Steven King book and says “Because of you, I had to read Cujo again!”

So Jackie has a rematch with him and they Rocky-Apollo Creed all over the courtyard. But Ninja Jr.’s buddy thinks it’s the WWF and jumps in like the Undertaker without tagging, so Jackie tells him that steroids kills and shows him how. Then Jackie takes out Ninja Jr. with the 5 in 1 style. Then, in a surprise move, it turns out that Ninja Sr. is a monk in disguise and says this whole vow of chastity thing blows and starts to kick Jackie butt. But the punk rock space alien ghosts show up and they help Jackie play Ina Godda Divida on Ninja Sr.’s chest and Jackie is the new unified heavyweight champion of the world, or at least the temple.

I liked this movie. Somebody finally figured out that less is more and there wasn’t a whole lot of Kung Fu. that made the fight scenes really memorable and showed how difficult they really were. There was some story and I almost lost it with the punk rock space alien ghosts, but the whizzing scene kept me in. Plus Jackie had at least one fart scene. You just can’t go wrong with zany bodily function fu. And Phil? “I dunno.”

Dave Bell’s Rating: 7/10

By Dusty

This movie was cool. I disagree that this is your average Kung Fu flick, because there are ghosts! The ghostly effects are really bad, but that just adds to the overall charm of this movie. Jackie learns some cool things in here like the Tiger Claw, and 4 others that I can’t remember offhand… maybe a crane. Probably a snake, too. And they make sounds for all of the styles of Kung Fu. It’s cool. The ghosts themselves don’t really look like ghosts at all. Rather just people with flour all over them. Still a good movie.

Dusty’s Rating: 8/10

By Stuart Gallagher

A typical early Jackie movie, concentrating on the Shoalin Temple and different fighting styles. It has lots of solid Kung Fu for the lovers of the sport, but not so many stunts and wacky humour of the more recent Jackie movies. Look for the great simularity to Shaolin Wodden Men: Same setting, actors, caves and dungens and even has a great chunk of footage that is identical (of Jackie catching his dinner). Not as good as many of his later movies.

Stuart Gallagher’s Rating: 6/10

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About JJ Hatfield

i like movies
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