Martial Arts movies like ” Fatal Needles vs Fatal Fists “are in a class by themselves. Made in 1978 this Taiwan film stars ” The Hot, The Cool and the Vicious” star Don Wong and “Five Fingers of Death” star Lo Lieh. Don Wong and Lo Lieh play two officials of the law in a small town.
They both are able to maintain the peace until they come across the notorious Four Devils. During the fight, Don Wong’s character, Ming Hu, accidentally stabs and kills his partner Chow played by Lo Lieh.
Ming Hu feels so bad about what has happened that he decides to stop fighting and becomes a recluse. His first stop is at a brothel in another town, Ming Hu at this point is very depressed and drunk that he accumulates a small debt and has no money to pay it off.
The Madame of the brothel decides to keep him on so that he can pay off his debt. Ming Hu no longer identifies with his old self and so he takes on a new name given to him by the madame called Chen Chi.
Chen Chi the coward is very passive and has no self-respect. He seems out of place as a worker in the brothel often making many mistakes and interfering with the business clients that come there. He eventually leaves after defending one of the girls and being considered a hero.
Chen Chi refuses to be looked upon as a hero so he leaves the brothel drunk again and ends up at the front door of the town’s magistrate called Virtue House. There Chen Chi works as the helper of the person who owns the lowest position there.
What makes martial arts movies like ” Fatal Needles vs Fatal Fists “so unique is that director Lee Tso Nam has many subtle references in the movie that depict a closed state of mind or a state of being trapped.
When you watch the movie you can see in certain scenes, like when Don Wong is talking to the magistrate’s daughter, there is a cage in front of his face and it sort of explains what he’s trying to express to her. There are several examples of this in the movie, it”s like the director is trying to convey a message to the audiences about the way he perceives life.
Chen Chi eventually gets his courage back when he decides to fight after his friend gets thumped. This friend, who he works for, gets totally embarrassed by getting his butt kicked by two thugs who work for the great Chung Tung played by Chang Yi, a villain who is responsible for the fight with the Four Devils that helped get his friend Chow (from the beginning of the film) killed.
Chen Chi now decides to help the magistrate get rid of Chung Tung and his men because they are trying to distribute drugs in the town.
The ending fight scene of this movie showcases Don Wong and Chang Yi displaying an epic fight scene that ends with an unexpected diversion that wins the fight for Don making Martial Arts movies like ” Fatal Needles vs Fatal Fists ” a film you don’t want to sleep on.
Martial Arts movies like ” Fatal Needles vs Fatal Fists ” stand out because even though its low budget compared to a Shaw Brothers movie the fight scenes are top-notch and have there own kind of identity that sets this movie apart from other low budget Kung Fu films.