Challenge of The Masters
1976 • Hong Kong • Directed by Chia-Liang Liu
After masterminding the spellbinding martial arts choreography on dozens of Shaw Brothers’ biggest hits, Lau Kar-Leung became an extraordinary director in his own right. His second film, the thrilling and deeply personal Challenge of the Masters, draws upon the legend of the real-life Cantonese folk hero Wong Fei-hung, played here by Lau’s soon-to-be-legendary adoptive brother Gordon Liu in his first starring role.
The teenage Wong (Liu) is frustrated when he is forbidden from attending his father’s own martial arts school, but finds an opportunity to prove himself during the games in an annual firecracker competition. After a competing kung fu school recruiting a deadly and mysterious drifter (played by director Lau) helps push the odds in their favour, with tragic and fatal results, Wong is selected by reclusive master Lu A-cai (Chen Kuan-Tai) to be his next pupil in order to carry out justice.