Death Duel of Mantis
Release Date
1 January 1984

Death Duel of Mantis (1984)

Action, Adventure, Comedy
Hsiao Hai (Wa Chung Ting) works as a servant for wealthy businessman Tin Hai Lu (Fei Lung). Constantly bullied and abused in the marketplace, Hsiao finds himself taken under the personal tutelage of his boss, a skilled master of Chicken style kung-fu. Master Lu hopes that his young employee may one day provide backup muscle for his ongoing business struggles with a rival tong. Meanwhile, gawky split-toothed Hsiao continues to spend much of his free time at the farmers market trying to develop a relationship with the local noodle vendor (Ging-shun Mau) and his lovely daughter Ho Hwa (Yin-fei Kam). Hsiao clumsily romances the fiery-tempered Ho, who strongly rebukes his advances. Hsiao then stops a group of marketplace rowdies in a mischievous slapstick fight that admirably displays the acrobatic finesses of his new Chicken style technique. Master Lu rewards him with a promotion. Ho Hwa promptly informs Hsiao that his boss is not the upstanding citizen that he pretends and, again, she ridicules his flirtations, citing as "stupid" his bashful awkwardness and the pugilistic ineptitude of his showy shenanigans. She then proceeds to wallop the tar out of him with kung-fu techniques he has never before seen. Soon Hsiao discovers that Ho Hwa was right: His master's great wealth was actually acquired from illegal tax collections. Hsiao secretly begins to return the money to the people. Now master Lu and his followers spring their long-awaited trap, wiping out the rival tong with master Lu himself disposing of nemesis master Sher (O Yau-ma) using the Chicken style's signature backward-pecking elbow strikes. During the melee, master Lu's men also rumble with and rout Ho Hwa and her father. Afterward, father and daughter pack up and leave unannounced. They now realize that their kung-fu is simply no match for master Lu. Ho Hwa's mother had been murdered by Lu and she and her father quietly want revenge. For Hsiao, on the other hand, despite being well-treated, chasing off Ho and her father is the last straw. He has enough of master Lu's underhanded ways. Hsiao turns on his own tong and joins Ho and her father in the country which, of course, softens Ho's heart. Advanced kung-fu training now begin with Hsiao learning the Mantis style from the noodle vendor while Ho brushes up on her Eagle Claw. Together, they use Hsiao's knowledge of the Chicken style to invent a technique for confronting it. Master Lu eventually uncovers Hsiao's Robin Hood rebates to the people from his personal treasury. He quickly locates their hideout and the fighters face off for the final confrontation: Hsiao's acrobatics versus Lu's strategic movement. Ho Hwa keeps the gang at bay with her own acrobatic flips and graceful spinning high kicks followed in a blink by a low spinning sickle kick that floors her opponents. And master Lu struts his stuff with awesome power. But the tide of battle only turns to victory when Hsiao lets loose a mesmerizing stream of spinning aerial kicks that overwhelm the Chicken style's backward-pecking elbow strikes. - Written by Neva Friedenn
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