And this, folks, is exactly why I started this semi-regular “international weirdness” series here. Once in awhile you come across a movie so bizarre, so completely without redeeming social or even narrative value, so exploitative, and so utterly out-and-out wrong that all you can do is stand back and gawk in amazement, as if you were at a freak show — and given that exploitation cinema does, in fact, have its roots in roadshow cinema, which in turn has its roots is the carny/freak show circuit, the circle sort of completes itself with movies like the 1979 Taiwanese martial arts/cripsploitation classic Tian Can De Que, or, as it’s known in English, The Crippled Masters .
It’s debatable how much you even need to actually know about this film before you watch it, since the plot makes no sense, the credits are completely unclear as to which actor plays which part, and the whole thing is sort of indescribable anyway. The more I tell you, the more it’ll just spoil the experience of a film best taken in with absolutely no preconceptions whatsoever.
Which is, I guess, sort of me taking the easy way out as a reviewer, especially since my point here is to get you to see The Crippled Masters immediately (assuming you haven’t already done so, that is). And I do have some sort of semi-professional responsibility to tell you what the damn thing is about, don’t I?
Well, I guess I do. But I really think anything other than the briefest and most cursory rundown is going to just ruin things. Suffice to say we’re talking about a flick where two guys (supposedly brothers) are crippled by some bad-ass warlord-type dude in some vaguely-defined (to put it kindly) “ancient time” and, after learning to overcome their handicaps and mastering some secret old-school kung fu techniques come back to exact their revenge.
The thing that sets The Crippled Masters apart, though, is that the two lead actors actually are crippled — and their deformities are quite clearly not the work of an ancient warlord but of some serious congenital defects. But damn if they really don’t have some fighting moves every bit as authentic as their deformities.
And now I’m going to shut up and let a few still from the film do all the talking, apart from briefly mentioning that The Crippled Masters is avaiable as a bare-bones, bargain-basement DVD from Diamond (pictured below) that you can find on Amazon marketplace or eBay for a buck or two and, if this sort of thing is, in fact, your sort of thing, you’re going to thank me for turning you onto this flick. Simply put, you will not believe your eyes. And with that, I’m just going to shut up and get out of the way.