Written by: Ron Cotton on July 5th, 2004
Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1982
Director: Joe Law
Cast: Jackie Conn, Frankie Shum
DVD Released: January 1st, 2003
Approximate Running Time: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 4.3 Pan and Scan
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono
DVD Release: Diamond Entertainment
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $5.99
Lee Ho was an escort whose arms were dismembered because as Tau stated “you broke the rules.” and those sadistic orders came from Master Pau. Lee Ho is thrown out, left to his own devices in this sad armless state. But even without his arms, he seems undaunted. Disoriented, Lee enters a restaurant with a meager amount begging for food with the promise that he’ll pay twice as much next time. When the other customers become disgusted by his bloody appearance, Lee is thrown out much to the delight of other patrons. Passing out and reawakening, he discovers a coffin maker named Chen saved him from certain death. When Master Pau sees Lee with Chen, a fight ensures and soon ends once Chen exclaims, “If I die who will make the coffins?” Once the thugs leave, Chen urges Lee to leave to become the strongest man ever.
Chen against all odds does anything to survive. Simple tasks have become more complex because of his stubby arm like appendages. He becomes healthy and stronger because of it. Master Lin Ching Kung is the true mastermind of this evil organization of extortion and killing. He himself appears to be crippled with his impressive hump. Once Tau learned too much, he too met a similar fate, instead acid burns and melts his legs thanks to Master Lin. Tau gets away and looks for help. Tau begged for water, unfortunately, he didn’t know that it was Lee. Lee tortures Tau for retribution for his lost arms. Tau, newly disfigured without legs is helpless. An old man intervenes, tells Lee to forgive, to become two halves of a whole and destroy Master Lin. The old man acknowledged that now was his time to take up students. So the learning process begins…
Master Lin Ching Kung was up to no good, taking a school, killing the teacher, and made it into a casino. Then orders were to steal from a thief. Lee and Tau come to stop them and together are an unstoppable force. Master Lin is not amused, and his assistant Master Pau comes up with a plan to rid of the two, by using Mau Pow (dressed in white with the faness of Bruce Lee) and then killing him rather than paying him. Conversely, Lee and Tau are on a mission to steal back the 8 jade horses for their teacher. Will the two masters unite as one to become an unstoppable force, getting revenge against all odds? Frankie Sum (Lee Ho) was a thalidomide baby, thalidomide is a drug introduced in the late 50’s to help women with morning sickness. This drug prevented normal growth in fetuses. Jackie Conn’s Legs were caused by a developmental problem during pregnancy. The two were cast in both Crippled Avengers and The Crippled Masters.
This campy tale of two becoming half becoming whole and seeking revenge against a humpback is crafted with perfection. The soundtrack is perfect. The intermissions are perfect and fit with the transitions of the story. Disfigured fighting is amusing and leaves little to the imagination. The best moments are in the restaurant as well as Master Lin’s sinister laugh. It’s times like this when you must savor every humorous morsel. Watch with friends or on a boring evening alone. Low points include some sophomoric acting of Frankie Sum and Jackie Conn. Not perfect, but probably as close as one will get with an original title like this.
The DVD doesn’t have a problem with being blocky, but the film is soft. The Pan and Scan cut off important details. Part of the humor of this DVD is the fact that Diamond Entertainment states that it’s fully restored and Enhanced Digital Master. They fail to mention that the master is probably VHS. The special features are not that special, but at least it was an attempt by a budget title. No Subs, English dubbed audio only and limited features which go to show that this is not why you’re buying this DVD.
The Crippled Masters is the disfigured diamond in the rough. Every Kung Fu aficionado should own this gem as a hallmark to off the wall titles that Asian cinema is known for. Go to badmovies.org for more information of this great oddity!