Mad Monkeys, Bulkbits and Bushels of Breath

by John Holbo on December 30, 2004

OK, first things first. A kind donor has agreed to match funds to the tune of 200 euros on any amount raised in our little Amazon disaster relief thingy. This person wishes to be identified as: "’One of the blogging world’s most incisive commentators, inventor of the orbital mind-control laser and 19th dan master of "Drunken Monkey" kung fu."

That’s very interesting. Do you know, I have a DVD for Mad Monkey Kung Fu, starring Lau Kar-leung (a.k.a. Liu Chia Liang, a.k.a. General Fu who fights Jacky Chan in Drunken Master II.) Sadly, Mad Monkey is Region 3 only and unavailable from Amazon. But if you get the chance, snark out on it. You should check out the sequel, Drunken Monkey. Good Unforgiven Fu – that’s kicking people while wearing a duster. The usual Indestructible Old Man Fu. Again only Region 3. (Sigh. You poor folks never get to see any good movies.) But here’s a nice site with links to cool trailers and galleries. As I quoted somewhere or other "a monkey that is inebriated is most funny."

Speaking of linguistically distinctive wisdom, Language Hat linked a couple days back to a really funny Poul Anderson essay, "Uncleftish Beholding". What if English were purged of non-Germanic words and neologisms sprang up all Ursprunglich-like?

For most of its being, mankind did not know what things are made of, but could only guess. With the growth of worldken, we began to learn, and today we have a beholding of stuff and work that watching bears out, both in the workstead and in daily life.

The underlying kinds of stuff are the *firststuffs*, which link together in sundry ways to give rise to the rest. Formerly we knew of ninety-two firststuffs, from waterstuff, the lightest and barest, to ymirstuff, the heaviest. Now we have made more, such as aegirstuff and helstuff.

The firststuffs have their being as motes called *unclefts*. These are mightly small; one seedweight of waterstuff holds a tale of them like unto two followed by twenty-two naughts. Most unclefts link together to make what are called *bulkbits*.

Reminds me of my post on Anatole France’s dialogue on philosophy of language: "The breath is seated by the shining one in the bushel of the part it takes in what is altogether loosed," etc.

Oh, and if you want to verify for yourself that English is a tonal language, buy The Big Red One for cheap! No, actually what you want are a bunch of 50%+ marked-down Fox TV DVD sets. Buffy. Futurama. X-Files. Good deals! As low as $14.95 for the first season of Buffy. Buy and you’ll be helping disaster victims! That’s good!

Well, that oughta hold ’em for a while. I figured if we all just posted about disaster relief round the clock, Whizbang would figure out that the reason liberals post so much about the need to help tsunami victims is that the left is uninterested in abstract ideas and debate. (Guy doesn’t miss a trick.) That why I said all this brainy stuff.



Ckrisz 12.30.04 at 3:50 pm

DRUNKEN MONKEY is definitely NOT a sequel to MAD MONKEY KUNG FU. It’s also a terrible film. Lau Kar-leung’s a visionary filmmaker, but this is his GANGS OF NEW YORK. Just awful.

An all-region version of MAD MONKEY KUNG FU is here:

Don’t bother with Amazon for Hong Kong films – go to or


jholbo 12.30.04 at 3:55 pm

But I thought it was kind of cute how the heroes dressed like their wardrobes came straight off the rack at the gap, even though it was supposed to be a period movie. And that basketball scene. Of course it’s not as good as the first and – yes, of course it isn’t a sequel. (What was I thinking?) But it is sequel-ish. An homage to that first one. Thanks for the link to the all-region version. That’s useful.


Bryant 12.30.04 at 4:23 pm

I really recommend the Region 3 Mad Monkey Kung Fu (here) — the Celestial Pictures re-release is utterly beautiful. Very high quality stuff. What’s going on here is that Celestial bought the rights to reissue most of the old Shaw Brothers movies and is doing an incredibly good job cleaning them up and bringing out the quality. It’s sort of as if, say, no MGM movies were available on DVD as anything other than bootlegs and grainy digitizations, and then Criterion came along and started methodically redoing the whole catalog. It’s so nice.

Sorry, I’m waxing passionate. But when you can get a region free DVD player relatively cheap, it’s worth it to expand the range of available cinema, if you’re a movie geek like me.


Shai 12.30.04 at 4:25 pm

I’ll check that out.

Have you seen Jackie Chan’s Young Master? The final showdown is the best kung fu fight I’ve ever seen. For some reason the rest of the movie has telegraphed choreography but it’s worth it.

Police Story I and Dragon Strike aka Dragon Lord are relatively unknown but good too.


Shai 12.30.04 at 4:27 pm

I’ll check that out.

Have you seen Jackie Chan’s Young Master? The final showdown is the best kung fu fight I’ve ever seen. For some reason the rest of the movie has telegraphed choreography but it’s worth it.

Police Story I and Dragon Strike aka Dragon Lord are relatively unknown but good too.


jholbo 12.30.04 at 4:49 pm

I guess maybe another reason I don’t mind the whole Lau Kar-leung’s “Gangs of New York” thing is I pretty much liked “Gangs of New York.” Also, I saw “Drunken Monkey” back to back with Michelle Yeo in “Silverhawk”. Even if you think Monkey is terrible, you’d have to admit that there’s terrible and there’s TERRIBLE, compared to which terrible is good. But I just plain thought it was good. They obviously cared so much about making the fights look good in a ‘none of your fancy camera work’ way that they just didn’t bother much with the plot. Plus that opening scene with Wu Jing all roped up and scurrying across the ceiling?


George 12.30.04 at 5:26 pm

Wow, Holbo is a kung fu fan. Who knew?

PS: never seen one better than Drunken Master 2.


Dan 12.30.04 at 9:34 pm

Today we wield both kind of uncleftish doings in weapons, and
kernelish splitting gives us heat and bernstoneness. We hope to
do likewise with togethermelting, which would yield an unhemmed
wellspring of work for mankindish goodgain.

Soothly we live in mighty years!


Matt McGrattan 12.30.04 at 11:12 pm

Some of the best fight choreogrpahy I’ve ever seen is in Yuen Woo-Ping’s ‘Iron Monkey’.

His fight choreography for Crouching Tiger is fine, but he’s really going for it with ‘Iron Monkey’…


Ginger Yellow 01.04.05 at 12:18 pm

Police Story is relatively unknown? To quote South Park, are you high or just incredibly stupid?

I have to agree with Matt that Iron Monkey has some amazing choreography, especially the final fight on the burning poles. Probably the best wire-fu film after Once Upon a Time in China.

Infuriatingly, there’s no UK DVD of Drunken Master II.


Scott Spiegelberg 01.04.05 at 7:48 pm

People are arguing about fu, but no one has taken issue with the claim that English is a tonal language? It is a stress language, plain and simple. The misreading by emphasizing Red over the other words is a matter of stress, not pitch. When we can have a single phoneme mean something different depending on its frequency, then a language is tonal.

Comments on this entry are closed.