Currently available on Amazon Prime UK, The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (a.k.a. The Invincible Pole Fighters, and Invincible Pole Fighter) is another movie based on the Generals of the Yang Family legends. The Amazon Prime version is the original Mandarin with English Subtitles restored by Celestial Pictures. I’m going to stick my neck out here and say while I did enjoy the film I think the story could have been much better. It uses some pretty lazy plot points such as Gordon Liu becoming a monk, and reusing a lot of the plot from The 14 Amazons. Well plot might be a wrong term to use, imagery? Scenery? The whole Yang family household reads a lot like the 1972 movie. It does add a bit more about the treachery of General Pan Mei and his dealings with the Tartars and the focus of the movie is on three of the Yang children rather than all the women so maybe I’m being unkind.
Despite my criticisms this is a good film and it was very enjoyable to watch. All the performances were good although, and no disrespect meant, I thought Alexander Fu Sheng’s performance as the grief stricken 6th brother gone mad was a little over the top. Gordon Liu Chia-Hui’s character of 5th brother appeared to take heavily from his 1978 performance of Liu Yu-de/Monk San Ta in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin. However it sells, people adore the character and it probably drew more people into watching it in the cinemas. Kara Hui as 8th sister was a good edition to the main trio of Yang’s proving how flexible she is as an actor. There had been some rewrites in the script as one of the stars, the amazingly talented Alexander Fu Sheng, was killed in a car accident. Which is why he doesn’t show up in the final fight.
Lau Kar-Leung (credited as Liu Chia-Liang) Director, Action Director, Script
Hsiao Ho, Action Director
King Lee King-Chu, Action Director
Ni Kuang, Script
Gordon Liu Chia-Hui (Drunken Master III, Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, Painted Skin: The Resurrection) as Yang 5th brother
Alexander Fu Sheng (Five Shaolin Masters, The Brave Archer I, II, & III, Legendary Weapons of China) as Yang 6th brother
Kara Hui Ying-Hung (The Brave Archer, Kung Fu Mistress ,Wu Xia) as Yang 8th sister
Lily Li Li-Li (Princess Iron Fan, Swift Sword, Shaolin Kung Fu Kids) as Mother Yang
Phillip Ko Fei (The Water Margin, Legend of a Fighter, Power of First Fight) as Temple Abbot
King Lee King-Chu (Enter the Dragon, The Iron Fisted Monk, Disciples of the 36th Chamber) as Temple Abbot Zhihong
Lam Hak-Ming (The Thunderbolt Fist, The Kung Fu Kid, Ip Man 2) as General Pan Mei
Johnny Wang Lung-Wei (The Shaolin Avengers, Crippled Avengers, The New Legend of Shaolin) as Prince Yeh Li Lin
Chu Tit-Wo (Sword Stained with Royal Blood, The Bare-Footed Kid, Last Hero in China) as Ying Kuei
Liu Chia-Liang (Story of the White-Haired Demon Girl, Heroes of the East, Seven Swords) as Hunter, helps Yang 5th escape
Yuen Tak (My Young Auntie, Bastard Swordsman, Hero) as Yang loyalist with Golden Blade
Yeung Sai-Gwan (The Shaolin Boxer, The Iron Fisted Monk, Eagle Fists) as Tartar general
Sek Gong (The Proud Twins, The Prodigal Son, Shaolin and Wu Tang) as Tartar general
Yeung Ching-Ching (The Lady Assassin, A Chinese Ghost Story II, The Bride with White Hair 2) as Yang 9th sister
Wong Yu (The Spiritual Boxer, The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Crazy Shaolin Disciples) as Yang 1st brother
Lau Kar-Wing (One-Armed Swordsman, Golden Swallow, Once Upon a Time in China and America) as Yang 2nd brother
Robert Mak Tak-Law (The Deadly Breaking Sword, Ten Tigers of Kwantung) as Yang 3rd brother
Hsiao Ho (Dirty Ho, Return to the 36th Chamber, Iron Monkey) as Yang 4th brother
Cheung Chin-Pang (Treasure Hunters) as Yang 7th brother, Yang Si
Wong Ching-Ho (Full Moon Scimitar, Return of the Bastard Swordsman, Disciples of the 36th Chamber) as Innkeeper
Leanne Lau Suet-Wah (The Lady Assassin, Bastard Swordsman, New Shaolin Temple) as The Queen
Wan Ling-Kwong (The Magic Sword of Leopard Mountain, The Wandering Swordsman, The Fatal Flying Guillotines) as Abbot of Qingliang Temple
Other films based on Generals of the Yang Family
- The 14 Amazons (1972)
- Generals of the Yang Family (1984)
- The Eight Diagram Cudgel Fighter (1985)
- Assault on Divergence (2006)
- Legendary Amazons (2011)
- Saving General Yang (2013)
Love HK Films review
City on Fire review, some really good insights to some of the troubles getting the film made.
Kung Fu Kingdom review
- Cheung Chin-Pang is Alexander Fu Sheng’s youngest brother.
- Alexander Fu Sheng died on July 7, 1983 in a car accident on the way to shoot 8-Diagram Pole Fighter.
- In addition to directing and appearing in the film, “The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter” is one of only four films that Lau Kar-leung wrote, the others being “Legendary Weapons of China”, “The Lady is the Boss”, and “My Young Auntie”, all of which he directed and all of which feature Gordon Liu.
- The film was originally to feature Alexander Fu Sheng in the lead. However, Sheng was tragically killed in a car accident during filming. Rather than subject the world to another “Game of Death”-esque hack job, Lau adapted the film to focus on Gordon Liu’s character while utilizing the footage of Sheng that had been filmed up to that point. Ironically, at the time of his death, Sheng was occupying the same residence that was occupied by Bruce Lee prior to his death.
- Fu Sheng was originally supposed to be the one to go to Shaolin. Major script re-writes were required that now put Fifth Brother (Gordon Liu) in Fu Sheng’s role.
- The film’s story takes place during the Song Dynasty of China which lasted from year 960 to 1279. Yet when the 5th Yang insists on having his head shaved at the Temple, the monks are using a straight razor which was not invented until the 1700s.
- In the Jinsha battle scene, just before the Yang patriarch faces the Tartars’ army of archers, the golden blade of his staff is (inadvertently) hacked off by one of the Tartar soldiers. In the next shot of Yang, the blade is still attached to his staff.
- Score from ‘Invincible Pole Fighter’ is used in Kill Bill (vol.2)