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I’m looking for a kung fu or martial arts film that I watched in the 90s. It seemed to have been made in the 70s or 80s.

As I recall, the male protagonist resembled Liu Kang from Mortal Kombat in both appearance and fighting style. The film was not one of the Mortal Kombat films made in the 90s; it was more like the classic kung fu films from the 70s and 80s in terms of aesthetics. I think the protagonist was shirtless in most of the scenes I remember.

The film had a scene where the protagonist was in a cave, a dungeon, or something similar and had to pass a series of tests or trials. The tests assessed different aspects of his fighting skills. One of them tested his hearing; he had to sit on the ground with his eyes closed or blindfolded and determine where a thrown object, possibly a coin, landed.

He had to yell out the location of the object, such as “front left” or “rear right” (or maybe something more specific). If he got it wrong, he was struck with a weapon or a fist. I remember him bleeding during this test, but he eventually succeeded when he consistently located the thrown objects.

Another test was to fight an animated statue-like creature with several arms that resembled depictions of Avalokitasvara or Avalokiteshvara (Buddhism) or the Hindu god Kali, but was more monstrous-looking. I think this was the final challenge, and he struggled a lot against the creature.

I'm not sure about these things regarding the creature:

  • The technique used to animate it, or whether it's live-action. It could be stop-motion animation, puppetry, or an actor in costume. My best guess is that it's stop-motion animation.
  • What color it was. I have a vague impression that it was gold, but I can't be sure.     

The creature may have looked like these, but more monstrous-looking. I think it looked more like Avalokiteshvara than Kali:

Avalokiteshvara
Avalokiteshvara
Image source: https://www.chiddingstonecastle.org.uk/avalokiteshvara/

Kali
Kali
Image source: https://www.worldhistory.org/image/1332/kali/


After searching further, I came across another user’s question on the NeoGAF forums that is similar to mine — "Help Identifying a classic Kung Fu movie":

[…] I remember seeing a martial arts movie a while ago where several martial artists were participating in some trials. One of the trials involved them being blindfolded and a coin was tossed. They had to pinpoint the direction the sound came from and if they got it wrong a log would fall on their head. If I remember correctly, the main character was able to identify the directions correctly and left this trial unscathed.

Their description mostly matched the trial I mentioned above. A difference was that they said the main character escaped without a scratch, but maybe we remembered the scene differently. I don’t remember seeing a log either, but perhaps it was the weapon used on those who failed to determine where the coin or object landed. Unfortunately, no one seemed to answer this user’s question in the thread they posted on.


Works I've ruled out:

  • The Eighteen Jade Arhats (1978), AKA The Eighteen Jade Claws of Shaolin — Though there is a creature or device with several arms in this film, it does not match my memory. The protagonists fight this creature in the opening montage, not as part of any trials or tests of skill. One of the protagonists is also a woman, and I don't recall any women undergoing the trials. The creature's arms here are thin and long, while I recall its arms being more human-like. I've also skimmed through the entire movie on YouTube and could not find any of the scenes I described above.
  • The 18 Bronzemen (1976) — (YouTube video link) Features a trial where the protagonists fight bronze statue-like creatures, but it doesn’t have any of the other trials I mentioned above.
  • King of Fists and Dollars (1979) — (YouTube video link) The protagonists go through some kind of trial or training, but the film does not have any of the scenes I mentioned above.
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  • After finding the film in question, it seems that it is a female protagonist, and the multi-arm statue shows up near the beginning. youtu.be/0Abzvvn5b30?si=YQcW5oKtEwV8x_YX
    – FuzzyBoots
    Sep 7, 2023 at 13:19
  • That image did not match the scene I remembered, but if the rest of the plot I described fits, it might be possible that it's the movie "The Eighteen Jade Arhats". I’ll look for some plot summaries and watch it on YouTube to see if that’s the one. I don't recall the protagonist being female. Sep 7, 2023 at 13:30
  • Was that creature stop-animated like a Kali in "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" ? Sep 7, 2023 at 21:17
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    @YaroslavKornachevskyi That part is fuzzy in my memory. If I had to guess, I'd say it's likely that it's stop-motion animation. But it might also be puppetry or an actor in costume. Sep 8, 2023 at 2:13

1 Answer 1

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Partial match is "The 18 Bronzemen II" (1976), AKA "Return of the 18 Bronzemen". (Full movie)

Could it be that two different movies are mixed up?

Hearing test:

Hearing test scene screenshot

"Statue-like creature":

GIF of scene with statue-like creature

"Creature with several arms" (although it seems MC never faces it):

Scene with a depiction of creature with several arms screenshot

Plot:

Despite the national resistance, the Manchurians have taken over China, but the Ching Emperor fears that the Shaolin Temple disciples would overthrow the dynasty. So he disguises himself as a disciple, in order to become a kung fu master and control the Shaolin monks. But according to custom, he must pass the test of the legendary 18 Bronzemen before he can leave the Temple.

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    Good find! This is most likely the film I was looking for. I’m not sure how I got the impression that the creature had several arms. Maybe I mixed up the bronzemen with the depiction of that creature. Sep 19, 2023 at 4:46
  • @galacticninja you are welcome) Sep 19, 2023 at 7:43

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