DirectorLo Wei Music directorFrankie Chan Duration CountryHong Kong
Release date23 November 1978 (1978-11-23) CastJackie Chan (Yi-Lang), James Tien (Luk), Yuen Biao (Master of the Five Fists), Chih-ping Chiang, Hsiu-yi Fang, Dean Shek (Shaolin Student) Similar moviesDynamite Shaolin Heroes, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Matrix Revolutions, Blackhat, Batman Begins, Kill Bill: Vol. 1
Spiritual Kung Fu (Chinese: 拳精) (Quan Jing) is a 1978 Hong Kong martial arts film directed and produced by Lo Wei, and starring Jackie Chan and James Tien. The film also features Yuen Biao as the Master of the Five Fists. Chan was also the film's stunt co-ordinator. It was known in some releases as Karate Ghostbuster.
Along with Dragon Fist, Spiritual Kung Fu was filmed in early 1978. As Lo Wei's studio went bankrupt was running out of money, they shelved both films due to cost-cutting measures and Chan was loaned out to Seasonal Films for a 2 picture deal. Whilst there he made Snake in the Eagle's Shadow and Drunken Master with Yuen Woo-ping. The success of these two films at the domestic box office prompted Lo to give belated releases to Spiritual Kung Fu (late 1978) and Dragon Fist (1979).
Spiritual Kung Fu was Lo Wei's response to Chan's earlier attempt at blending comedy with kung fu in the film Half a Loaf of Kung Fu. The supernatural elements of the film were brought to life by some early examples of Hong Kong special effects. Much of the scripted comedy in the film centred on Chan's exaggerated facial expressions and reactions to his ghostly teachers.
Yi-Lang (Jackie Chan) is a smart-alec martial arts student at a Shaolin Temple. An anonymous thief steals a book from the library which teaches a potentially fatal style of Kung Fu. Yi-Lang, along with a group of five other monks, is punished for not stopping the thief, but his bravery leads to him signing up to defend a supposedly haunted portion of the school.
Upon discovering the ghosts, who are masters of a supposedly lost style of fighting known as The "Five Style Fists", Yi-Lang offers himself as a student, masters the form and uses it to progress quickly through the ranks of the school. In order to defend the school against the very thief who stole the book from its library, Yi-Lang demonstrates his new style and defeats the invading troup, with a little help from his five spiritual masters.
Chui Yuen (uncredited)
Li Hai Lung
Li Chun Tung
Yuen Biao (uncredited)
Wang Kuang Yu
Li Chnig Fu
Wu Te Shan
Chung Wai (uncredited)
Kung fu style
The "Five Style Fists" kung fu style is based on the Five Fists (Animal) Pattern, one of the early Martial Arts practiced at the Shaolin Temple, as discussed in Qiu Yue Chan Shi's book "The Essence of the Five Fists". This system contains Dragon, Tiger, Snake, Crane and Leopard / Panther styles.
During its Hong Kong theatrical run, Spiritual Kung Fu grossed HK $2,397,558.
The film was recorded in Mandarin in early 1978 but shelved. Prior to its belated theatrical release late that year, it was over-dubbed with a Cantonese soundtrack and some small edits were made. It wasn't until 1980 that the film was finally given a release with the original Mandarin soundtrack.
Two Chinese versions of the film have surfaced to date. The most notable difference is during a scene depicting temple duty. In one version (synced in accordance with the Mandarin soundtrack), Yi Lang is knocked unconscious with an attack to the back of the neck. In the other version (synching with the Cantonese soundtrack), he is knocked out with poison from a burning joss stick. There is an issue with some DVD releases of the film - Fortune Star's library contains the visual content of the Mandarin version, but they have (erroneously) provided the Cantonese soundtrack to distributors such as Universal Japan and Hong Kong Legends.
The Korean theatrical version contains a completely different opening.