Killing me softly with his bicycle – Man of Iron

Since the dawn of moving pictures there has been cinematic violence.  

I’m really happy about that.  

I love fight scenes in which actors hurt other actors with random objects snatched from their immediate environment.   To me, some of the most fun, creative films are those with “random object fights”.  Most people recognize that Jackie Chan is a master of random object fight choreography.  He’s fun and funny and, well…  fun.  ….and funny.

And then there’s Chan Koon Tai.  

In Chang Cheh’s excellent yanggang film 仇連環 Man of Iron (1972), Chan Koon Tai hurts people with a bicycle. Yes, I know Jackie Chan uses a bike in Project A but that film was made fourteen years after Man of Iron so please don’t compare. Besides, Chan Koon Tai doesn’t need to mess with cute funny tricks. He just wields a 65-pound rural Chinese 1-speed bicycle like it’s an aluminum baseball bat.  His character is a mean ass-kicker who enjoys hurting people so of course this scene is simply a joy to watch.

I’d like to share my joy via some crappy tiny VCD screen caps.  Sorry.  But just look how young Mr. Chan causes cinematic mayhem with a bicycle.

On with the show!

In a fabulous grand entrance, crazy cool Man of Iron Chan uses the bike to smash through the door of his own hideout so he can get at his enemies. 

Chen Kuan Tai - Man of Iron -  1972

He then threatens everybody in the courtyard by doing a quick paso doble with the bike.

Chen Kuan Tai - Man of Iron - 1972 - bike 2

He swings it around and smashes some bad guys in the brainpan.

Chen Kuan Tai - Man of Iron - 1972 brainpan

All the bad guys are shouting “waaaaiyah” right now. That’s one of my favorite parts of Shaw fight scenes.

Bolo Yeung snags the bike with one of those 10-foot bamboo poles that always seem to be lying around in kung fu movies.  So Chan just holds the bike over his head for a while, no big deal.

Chen Kuan Tai - Man of Iron - 1972 - bamboo

Then some poor bastard gets smashed through the spokes and punched on the head.

Chen Kuan Tai - Man of Iron - 1972 - wheel 1

I feel bad for him. I hope he got paid extra.  But now that the bike is firmly stuck on that guy, Chan can’t hit people with it anymore. Thinking fast, he rips the chain off the bike…

Chen Kuan Tai - Man of Iron - 1979 - chain

…and starts whipping the crap out of everybody.

Chen Kuan Tai - Man of Iron - 1972 - chain 2

After he whips them good, he walks over to the smarmy villain Tian Qing and chokes him out with the bicycle chain.  *Smirk*  One thing that makes Chan Koon Tai so cool is that he has zero guilt about enjoying his work.

Chen Kuan Tai - Tian Qing - Man of Iron - 1972
Bu yao , bu … bu yao = No, don’t
(Mandarin Lesson #1)

Notice that no part of this bicycle goes to waste. Chan’s full use of every piece of the bicycle not only reflects the Chinese virtue of thriftiness but also pre-dates the whole green recycling movement by a good 30 years.  Director Chang Cheh was into some pretty progressive shit.  

Man of Iron has some of the most amazing fight scenes Chang Cheh ever made.  They’re all about Chan Koon Tai being the awesomest guilt-free motherfucker on the planet, and this bicycle scene is one of the best “random object” fight scenes out there.  

If you haven’t seen Man of Iron, take a break from your life and go watch a guy smash the crap out of other guys with a bicycle.  Enjoy it, guilt free.


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