8 Diagram Pole Fighter
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
This is a unique movie. It starts off with a very serious Lily Li getting a message in her thoughts that only 6 out of her 7 sons will return from a battle with some Mongolians. Instead, only brother #6 returns (Alexander Fu Sheng). He comes back insane after seeing all of his brothers die. It was a bit disturbing for me as well. Hsiao Ho, Lau Kar Wing, Wong Yue and 2 other Yang brothers all bite the dust before the movie ever really starts. Luckily, Yang #5 (Gordon Liu) makes it out alive and goes to study at Shaolin Temple. That is all I will tell about the story, you just have to experience it for yourself. A true Shaw Brothers classic. The use of sets only may turn some people off, but they are beautiful sets and any Shaws fan will not have a problem with this. Also, if you love hand to hand, there is a slight chance you will not like this wonderful movie. It is all pole fighting, no hand to hand. Only get this if you want to see some of the best stick work ever. Even Lily Li gets about 2 minutes to show off. And just like a lot of Lau kar Leung's other films, this is a true Shaolin movie, and the Shaolin pole techniques are on full display. Their skills in pole fighting are a big reason why the Emperor favored them and why Shaolin became what it is today.

If you are a fan of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, you may like this movie even more. Not as many training scenes, but some awesome Gordon Liu action.

You need good villains in kung fu movies and luckily Johnny Wang Lung Wei is in this. The other 2 main baddies are acceptable. Philip Kao Fei also stars in a very memorable role as the head abbot.

Even though this movie had to be drasticly changed because of Fu Sheng's death during the time of filming, it is amazingly still a masterpiece in just about every way.

Another one of the last Shaw films, and another one of the very best. Sad to see they had to close up when they had all of these megastars on hand to make great movies like this.

One more note- I was not expecting this high of a death total in a Lau Kar Leung movie. He usually stays away from the violence. Well, "usually" is the key word here because I counted well over a 100 total deaths (you have to watch very close). The poles get very bloody. :)

Another masterpiece from Master Lau. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this.

4.5/5
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2002
What can I say? I'm a fool thinking that I was a true fan of the old school Venom/Shaw Bros. movies without ever even seeing The Invincible Pole Fighters, until today. The Invincible Pole Fighters is hands down the definitive Shaw Bros. Kung Fu Flick. I thought the Master Killer was Gordon Liu's best movie, until today. This movie has awesome action, a cool plot, the late Fu Sheng, Gordon Liu, and a cameo by the Kung Fu King himself Liu Chia Liang(director)! Kudos to Venom Mob Films for bring this rare flick out to the public and for noting on the packaging that it's a video transfer. Ground-Zero films should take lessons from the Venom Mob. Hey any chance of this flick being released remastered and uncut?
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2003
Eight Diagram Pole Fighter is definitely one of the best of all-time. Its in my top 5. The pole fighting in this movie is spectacular. My favorite scene is when Gordon Liu fights the shaolin monk to complete his training. The choreography is amazing. $$$ well spend. You must buy this movie. It is Gordon Liu at his best.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Geez, the way these martial arts films would have it, it's hell each time on whoever tries to get accepted into the Shaolin temple. But let's back up a bit. EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER (or INVINCIBLE POLE FIGHTER) - a tale of martial arts and betrayal and the exacting of bloody vengeance - is an old school must-see if you're a fan of the wuxia pian genre. It showcases the talents of luminaries such as Gordon Liu, Kara Hui, Alexander Fu Sheng, and iconic director Liu Chia Liang (who, as per norm, nabs a juicy cameo for himself). Note that Liu Chia Liang's trademark silly humor is absent on this screen, the dark, brooding tone being that prevalent.

The plot? When the seven spear-wielding Yang brothers and their father march onto The Battle of Jinsha, they fall victim to a calculated ambush by the jealous General Pan Mei. The Yangs are slaughtered but for the fifth and sixth brothers, except that the sixth brother is promptly rendered brain-addled by what he'd endured. Which leaves the 5th brother, seething in his need for vengeance, and this p!ssed off fifth brother is played by the awesome Gordon Liu.

Back home, what remains of the now disgraced Yang family - basically, the womenfolk and the demented 6th brother (yep, crazy had come to the Yang household) - is planning to testify against General Pan Mei in front of the Emperor, but not if Pan Mei has anything to say about it.

Meanwhile, Fifth Brother makes his way to an isolated Shaolin temple, a place in which he thinks he can bide his time and be patient and revenge is a dish best served cold and whatnot. He informs the monks that he also wants to become a monk, but no one buys his fake sincerity. It finally falls on the angry 5th Brother to shave his own head and brand those scar dots on his own dome, and this is what we friggin' call resolve. He settles in. He maybe even finds a modicum of peace. We know it won't last.

Director Liu Chia Liang once again applies his inventiveness, and so we get moments like the ones which feature the Yang patriarch's unbelievable death scene, 5th Brother's self-branding, and 5th Brother's defanging of the wooden wolf. For imaginative set pieces, Liu Chia Liang throws in that pyramid of coffins and the bamboo poles of righteousness. It's a given that he'll choreograph a series of high quality fights, very much including 5th Brother's duel with the Abbot and the memorable climactic all-out brawl at the inn (in which the fiendish Tartars - or Mongols - lose a horrifying number of teeth). I like that the wire-work isn't overdone. As a bonus, the lovely Kara Hui impresses once more with her kung fu skills. Gordon Liu, man, what can I say about Gordon Liu? He's got screen presence. He can fight. He can even act. Although, it's not demonstrated here, he can handle comedy as well as the dramatic bits. His work with the pole is tremendous.

1983 and EIGHT DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER marked a dark time for the Shaw Brothers as the studio's golden boy, Alexander Fu Sheng, suffered a fatal accident early during the shooting of the film. Rumor has it that Fu Sheng had been slated for a larger role, but obviously things had to be switched up, and so Sixth Brother became relegated to staying at home being all deranged. This is also one of Liu Chia Liang's most violent movies, and I can't help but think that Fu Sheng's passing had brought about this bleak mood. I imagine Fu Sheng's death must've cast a hell of a gloomy shadow over cast & crew. And the last thing for me: I'm disappointed that this Dragon Dynasty DVD doesn't offer an audio commentary from Hong Kong action film expert Bey Logan (or any other bonus material, for that matter). What, did Bey Logan finally get a life?

On this DVD, the movie gives you the option of listening to it in either Mandarin or messed-up sounding English. Go with the Mandarin, and instead read the English sub-titles, friend.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2001
WHY, WHY, WHY?!? Why must they edit what is quite possibly THE GREATEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME, period. I don't understand. They'll let us see a guy get half his face sliced off, but cut a very powerful scene in which the elder Yang commits suicide(by doing a 3-story-high, double flip into a flying, brain-exploding headbut on top of what I guess to be the Yang family monument, double-flips back down to the ground and dies on his feet) rather than surrender to the mongols! Despite the foul editing, this movie is so tight that it is virtually unruinable and still worthy of 5+ stars and the 12 or 13 bucks it costs.
Believe me, from the clever beginning [7 leave, 6 return(s)] to the wicked, bloody end, and excellent, intense, martial arts action from ear to ear, this flick surpasses even the Five Deadly Venoms and Master Killer.
starring Gordon "master killer" Liu, Fu Sheng, Wong Lung Wei
directed by Liu Chia Liang.
Definitely deserves your attention.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant.

OK, I will tell you more, but there is really not much more that needs to be said. This is a unique movie. It starts off with a very serious Lily Li getting a message in her thoughts that only 6 out of her 7 sons will return from a battle with some Mongolians. Instead, only brother #6 returns(Fu Sheng). He comes back insane after seeing all of his brothers die. It was a bit disturbing for me as well. Hsiao Ho, Lau Kar Wing, Wong Yue and 2 other Yang brothers all bite the dust before the movie ever really starts. Luckily, Yang #5 (Gordon Liu) makes it out alive and goes to study at Shaolin Temple. That is all I will tell about the story, you just have to experience it for yourself. A true Shaw Brothers classic. The use of sets only may turn some people off, but they are beautiful sets and any Shaws fan will not have a problem with this. Also, if you love hand to hand, there is a slight chance you will not like this wonderful movie. It is all pole fighting, no hand to hand. Only get this if you want to see some of the best stick work ever. Even Lily Li gets about 2 minutes to show off. And just like a lot of Lau kar Leung's other films, this is a true Shaolin movie, and the Shaolin pole techniques are on full display. Their skills in pole fighting is a big reason why the Emperor favored them and why Shaolin became what it is today.

If you liked '36th Chamber of Shaolin', this is a must have in your collection. Not as many training scenes, but some awesome Gordon Liu action.

No doubt one of the greatest casts ever including Johnny Wang Lung Wei as one of the villains. You need good villains in kung fu movies and luckily Lung Wei is in it. The other 2 main baddies are acceptable. Also starring is Kara Hui and Philip Kao Fei in a very memorable role.

Even though this movie had to be drasticly changed because of Fu Sheng's death during the time of filming, it is amazingly still a masterpiece in just about every way.

Another one of the last Shaw films, and another one of the very best. Sad to see they had to close up when they had all of these megastars on hand to make great movies like this.

One more note- I was not expecting this high of a death total in a Lau Kar Leung movie. He usually stays away from the violence. Well, "usually" is the key word here because I counted well over a 100 total deaths (you have to watch very close). The poles get very bloody. :)

Another masterpiece from Master Lau. I can't say enough about how much I enjoyed this. 4.5/5

As for the different versions of this movie-, I have the bootleg Red Sun version. I would recommend waiting for either Image or Dragon Dynasty to release this. There is no doubt they will. You can also get the Crash Cinema version which is sadly presented in full screen. IVL has this remastered and Red Sun obviously just stole their remastered print. That is the only way I can come up with a reason for Red Sun having it remastered. They steal their prints DIRECTLY from the IVL versions. Most of them at least. If it's not stolen from Celestial, it is probably not remastered. If people do not know about Red Sun being a bootlegging company, then DO NOT SUPPORT THEM ANYMORE. Just so you know, supporting bootleggers like Red Sun DESTROYS ANY chances for a legitimate American movie release. If you don't believe me or wish to find out more info on what I am talking about, just ask. I would be more than happy to comment on how Red Sun is absolutely heartless and tries to ruin martial arts movies for true fans. I am a true fan, and I find their DVDs disgusting. I hope that everyone realizes this.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2007
This movie was fantastic. I am a person who was not allowed to watch a lot of kung fu movies, and fighting as a kid but I am diving head first back into this fun realm.

The movie starts and ends with action, has a fantastic plot, and has fairly believable acting throughout. Gordon Liu (Brother #5) was excellent as a young warrior that had to swallow his pride, and instincts of revenge long enough to attack in the end. The only reasons why it was not a five-star movie was because the other brothers who got ambushed and killed were on so briefly, that their actual number of birth did not even matter. In addition, it was hard to figure out who was good, and evil but at the same time that part was a strength of the movie. A major reason for this was because the Yang family was well known throughout the area as upholders of the law, but the evil general was trying to kill all of the brothers, and end their faithful rebellious following. In reality he had them set up, and then tried to find the remaining two brothers and charge them for treason.

Good questions to ask yourself when watching this movie are:

If the head monk of the Buddhist temple was such a great fighter, then why would a Mongel ambush pose even the smallest threat?

If Brother #5 knew that the anti-pole weapons used by the general's men were what killed his brothers, then why did he not train to nullify their ability?

Why did Brother #4 really go crazy, and how were they going to have him cured?

This is a must have movie with actors that are in many of the good Shaw Brothers/ Wu-Tang/ Shaolin movies. The fighting skills were very good, and there wasn't much use of the "fake receeding hairline shoguns" of other movies which mostly has you laughing instead of paying attention to the plot.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2014
8 Diagram Pole Fighter is a favorite among many kung-fu film fans and it isn't very difficult to see why. In the realm of Shaw Brothers kung-fu cinema, this one has all the staples of a good flick. Gordon Liu plays the role of the pole fighter (though I still don't quite know what the 8 diagram part is about) and dedicates himself to the monk lifestyle after an upbringing of war. After nearly all his brothers are killed, Liu spends years becoming a monk, even though he is told he will never be accepted as one of them.

The make up, costumes and set pieces were all great and helped contribute to an authenticity of the film. Not to mention the early but not over use of wire-fu and how incredibly effective it was. The kung-fu and pole fighting were excellent and the choreography was even better. If you're a fan of Quentin Tarantino's movies you can tell this is one that he really loves, many of the sights and sounds of the film are referenced in his kung-fu/samurai epic Kill Bill.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 2001
This DVD is one of the best Kunf Fu flicks around. If you only own 2 Gorden Liu DVDs, it should be this one and Master Killer.
This film is a pleasure to watch from start to finish, having superb action, a good story, great costumes, and women who can fight as well. Gorden Liu's superb skills show, especailly while he trains in the pond at Wu-Tang mountain.
The costumes and sets give this film a higher visual standard, putting it a different arena than other old school Kung Fu films.
The fights in this film are designed beautifully, filled with plenty of traditional kung fu, incredible staff(pole) handling, and a few wire tricks as well.
There's even a fight where Gorden Liu takes on a dozen spearmen while his sister is tied to his back. Sounds almost hokey, but its done in a flawless fashion. The final battle is truly phenominal, but I don't want to give a way the ending...go see it for yourself, for the 14 bucks you'll spend, this one's a must buy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I would have to say without a doubt this has got to be one of Gordon Liu's best performances. He is young, and extremely fast in this movie. Wonderful Choreography and full of action. The Plot was good, and the story line a slight confusion but all in all Magnificent. The coffin Fight Yes I said "Coffin fight" alone to save his sister was amazing. Get this one Everyone this is Awesome!

Sifu Monroe
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