6

Very vague memories of this, I watched it on UK terrestrial channels maybe 1992/1993. I think it was subtitled, originally Chinese or Korean.

All I recall, protagonist was trying and failing at a number of tasks, some involving fighting.

Every failure he was somehow teleported back inside this large copper sphere suspended by a busy city road junction.

Lots of loud clanging noises and dents appearing in the sphere as pedestrians walked past below, he would then emerge looking all disheveled.

7

This is Kung Fu Hustle.

In 1940s Shanghai, petty crooks Sing and Bone aspire to join the notorious Axe Gang, which rules the town with an iron fist under the leadership of cold-blooded Brother Sum. One day, the two visit the run down Pigsty Alley claiming to be Axe Gang members, and attempt to threaten the residents before being chased off by the slum's Landlady. Sing, in an attempt to bluff them, throws a firecracker, which blows up the hat of a minor Axe Gang boss passing by. Sing blames the residents for throwing the firecracker, and the gang boss attacks a barber, only to be struck by an unseen assailant. The gang then calls for reinforcements while three of the tenants—Coolie, Tailor and Donut—reveal themselves to be Kung Fu masters and triumph over the gang members. Fearing the Axe Gang's retaliation, the Landlady quickly evicts the trio.

Infuriated by the loss of his men, Sum orders the capture of Sing and Bone, intending to kill them for causing trouble and posing as gang members. Sing narrowly frees themselves with his lock-picking skill, surprising Sum who allows them to join the gang once they have killed a man. Lamenting his failure, Sing tells Bone his story from when he was a young boy: He used his meager savings to buy a manual from a beggar, who called him "a potential Kung Fu genius", and taught himself the legendary Buddhist Palm moves. He tried to protect a mute girl named Fong from a younger Brother Sum and his gang, but was beaten up instead as the techniques he learned did not work. The defeat and humiliation convinced him that good guys never win, and to become a relentless criminal in order to survive in the world.

The next day, Sing and Bone return to the Pigsty Alley to kill the Landlady; their plan backfires, however, and Sing barely escapes from the Landlady's wrath. Seeking safety in a traffic pulpit, Sing is surprised as his body rapidly heals from the injuries sustained during the escape; the pain causes him to strike the sides of the pulpit with extreme force, covering the surface with hand-shaped impressions

Here is the scene you are thinking of with with the "copper sphere":

It's a traffic pulpit, an outdated technology which involved stationing a police officer in an elevated space to direct traffic, which Sing is staying in for lack of a better place. He doesn't exactly teleport to it, but the scene cuts rapidly from his failure to the pulpit. This is apparently a reference to Palm of Ru Lai which also featured "Buddhist Palm", and had the dying teacher inside of a bell and striking it to deform it to show the techniques of his style to his students.

krb notes in the comments that:

The puplit [sic] is shown 3 times. There is a scene where Sing and Bone are in the pulpit and Sing tells a story about his childhood. After Sing is bitten by the snakes he retreats there while healing, beats it up in response to the intense pain, and later claims to have no memory of how he recovered. Later when Sing is in a dire situation, the movie cuts to Bone looking up at the pulpit and seeing all the hand shaped dents left by Sing as a way of explaining to the audience what is happening to Sing at that time.

The timing of the film doesn't quite work, since it's from 2003, but it was intentionally styled after the Kung Fu films of the 1970s.

  • It looks quite like what I remember but the date confounds and amazes me. Did he go that that 'traffic pulpit' more than once? I could swear it happens a few times in the film – DannyMcG May 14 at 13:04
  • @DannyMcG: At least twice that I remember, although it's been a few years since I watched the film. "Palm of Ru Lai" can currently be watched at youtube.com/watch?v=p2X0BzHm4no, but I don't have the time to watch through to see if the bell scene closely resembles this. – FuzzyBoots May 14 at 13:31
  • The puplit is shown 3 times. There is a scene where Sing and Bone are in the pulpit and Sing tells a story about his childhood. After Sing is bitten by the snakes he retreats there while healing, beats it up in response to the intense pain, and later claims to have no memory of how he recovered. Later when Sing is in a dire situation, the movie cuts to Bone looking up at the pulpit and seeing all the hand shaped dents left by Sing as a way of explaining to the audience what is happening to Sing at that time. – krb May 14 at 16:16

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