One of my favorite Kung-Fu movies is “The Prodigal Son”. I have shown this movie to others and they have said they like it, but nobody has told me they enjoy it very well. So I got to thinking why I like it so much. Before getting to that let me explain the plot of “The Prodigal Son”.
The Hero of the story is a dim but likable man called Leung Chang, the only heir of a wealthy family in a town called Foshan. Leung Chang, thinks he is a great martial artist and calls himself “Kung-Fu King”. In reality though, his fights have been fixed by his close companion under the orders of his father. Through some bizarre turn of events, The Hero ( Leung Chang ) comes to fight Leung Yee-Tai ( The Master ) who reveals to The Hero that he is inept at Kung-Fu and beats him in a humiliating manner.
After this horrible defeat, The Hero wakes up and discovers the truth. The Hero comes back to The Master ( Leung Yee-Tai ) and begs him to teach The Hero some Kung-Fu. The Master refuses and The Hero follows him around for six months asking him to teach The Hero. The Master delivers varying degrees of humiliations and beating ups to The Hero in an effort to deter The Hero from following The Master around. The Hero also asks his close companion to attack The Hero unexpectedly to improve The Hero’s reflexes and The Hero suffers getting beaten up occasionally by his own companion. Then there are a side-stories of The Hero getting beaten up by a local Kung-Fu master because he thought The Hero slept with his wife, getting beaten up by The Master’s brother because he thought The Hero molested his daughter etc. Basically, throughout the movie The Hero’s job is to get beaten up by various people.
Another side-story goes about The Villain, who is the son of a duke. The Villain is a very good Kung-Fu fighter. He is ruthless but honorable. He travels across China looking for worthy opponents to fight and if he beats them, he maims them. Unknown to The Villain, his father has instructed his body-guards to kill anyone who might harm The Villain.
Finally, The Hero convinces The Master to teach him and he slowly attains proficiency in Kung-Fu with the help from The Master and The Master’s brother. The Villain fights The Master but The Villain stops the fight since The Master is unwell, thinking it would be wasteful to fight such a good fighter when he is sick. The Villain’s body-guards murder The Master, and this reveals their dark plans to The Villain who turns around and executes his body-guards.
Overcome with grief over loosing The Master, The Hero disobeys his master’s orders and challenges The Villain to a fight.
This is the only fight in whole the movie that The Hero wins. In this finale fight, The Hero beats The Villain into a pulp and as The Villain lays there defeated, he shouts : “LEUNG CHAAAAANG…. KUNG-FUUUUU KIIIING”. And that is the end of the movie.
Why do I like this movie so much ? Obviously it has some exciting martial arts moves, but it also tells an interesting story. It tells the story of a man, initially stupid, through dedication and hard work attains something awesome. That appeals to me in a deep manner. I know it is stupid, since in the real world, there is no guarantee that dedicated individuals will win. This is why I feel the kind of entertainment that we have will affect our value system and we must be careful to select what we spend our free time upon.