Who doesn’t love a great combination? Whether it is Dolly Parton with Porter Wagoner or peanut butter and chocolate, a meeting of two good elements can be a beautiful thing. But what happens when you take two separately intriguing ingredients and yet, when they meet, you get a whole lot of head scratching muck? Welcome to The Vixens of Kung Fu (A Tale of Yin Yang).
The Vixens of Kung Fu is a film that I had heard about for years. Mind you, never from anyone who had actually seen it, but it was noted in cult film circles as the 70’s sex film with kung fu. It’s fantastic on paper, with two titanic fringe film subgenres meeting in the middle, complete with a classic adult era cast that includes C.J. Laing, Bobby Astyr, Jamie Gillis and Bree Anthony. Nudity, martial arts and cinematic ridiculousness—it’s the ultimate dreamsicle but like the old adage goes, be careful what you wish for.
The film begins with some fortune cookie narration, including lines like “..he would conquer the land, the sea and the dragon.” Well, it’s certainly good to be ambitious! Somewhere in what looks like rural upstate New York, a dark-haired young lovely (Bree Anthony) is hiking when she encounters a group of brain damaged and unfortunately randy hunters (Astyr, Gillis & according to the semi-reliable IMDB, Douglas Wood.) The woman manages to flee but it’s a bad day to be in the woods since the head goon possesses an “anesthesia gun,” which looks exactly like a regular pistol. The key difference is that instead of killing or maiming someone, the bullets are basically roofies. You can put two and two together on what happens next. Inexplicably, the soundtrack goes from Chinese buffet to Hee-Haw to eerie silence and then to some stunningly inappropriate notes of whimsy. The one good thing about that, though, is that between the wonky soundtrack, Astyr’s insane giggling and Anthony’s questionable acting, the scene is more goony than creepy. And guess what? It’s only going to get more goony.
A lithe kung fu Master (Laing) is holding court outdoors with her students, lecturing them on how “Yin and Yang are the principles of Heaven and Earth.” They look mildly confused but appreciative, in a Valium-laced sort of way. Master ends up taking a peaceful walk on the beach and discovers the passed out, nude form of the woman. Taking a cue from the Linda & Abeline school of rape counseling, the Master gives her an oily massage. Learning both about the assault in the woods and the woman’s former career as a prostitute, she promises the woman to teach her kung-fu, so no man ever uses her again. The Master proclaims that “We women can hold up half the sky” before seducing her. As far as seduction lines go, it’s a little weak but it does get the job done.
After that, The Master and her students take part in some nude deep breathing exercises that results in smoke emitting out of their quims?!? That is maybe the last orifice you want smoke coming out of, but it is definitely a striking visual. The soundtrack, keeping with the pure spirit of randomness, switches to experimental sounding synth music. Finally, around the forty minute mark, we finally get to see some kung fu moves with the Master and one of her students finding a monk clad in yellow, wandering around the woods. They fight him, poorly, capture him and then the rest of the ladies have their way with him. This would be zero of a problem for most people that are into lovely, amorous female martial artists, but this event propels the Monk to seek out higher learning.
He travels to a Chinese restaurant in a strip mall, which is kind of fabulous. The place, House of Wong, has the female Master of “Golden Dragon Raising Head,” Ha Tien Sau (Peonies Jong), who is working covertly as a short order cook. He begs her to teach him this mythical form of martial arts and in the end, she agrees and has him meet her, where else? In the woods. They begin their training, which as far as I can tell, mainly involves him breathing hard, flailing his arms and ultimately, spanking it. There must be a legion of dudes out there who are masters of Golden Dragon Raising Head and don’t even know it.
This Monk is the Yang to the former prostitute’s Yin, resulting in the two matching one crappy martial arts form with another until they end up both practicing the ancient art of boots knocking. The film then ends with Yin’s Master approaching Ha Tien, asking her for guidance and then leaping in the air with a high kick. Does Yin get to avenge her rape? Do the two dubious Masters get to have the epic battle of who is worse at their chosen martial art? Spoiler alert, we never find out, leaving the viewer slack jawed and wondering who dosed their kool-aid.
The Vixens of Kung-Fu is so nonsensical that it borders on the transcendent, but is neither self aware nor completely over the top enough, to quite cross over. The story and pacing plays out like someone got incredibly baked, watched some Times Square quality chop-socky flicks and then got suddenly aroused. The best thing about this film is the highly creative editing implemented during the fight scenes. Presumably the fast cuts were used to enhance the puce belt level karate antics, but they are entertaining.
Thanks to the hard work from the folks at Vinegar Syndrome, Vixens has never looked better. The picture quality is gorgeous, with the early Autumnal woods looking postcard lovely. They have paired this title along with director Bill Milling’s (billed here as Chiang, seriously) superior Oriental Blue. (The latter was made around the same time and features most of the same cast.) When you think of Vixens of Kung Fu, as I know you will, think of fortune cookie dialogue, the most random musical soundtrack ever and creative character decision making.