The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter is a 1984 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Movie starring Gordon Liu (of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin fame), Kara Wai (as Liu's onscreen sister) and Alexander Fu Sheng in his final film appearance.
Very loosely based on the Generals of the Yang family during the Song Dynasty, the story is told through the perspective of Yeung Ng-long, the fifth and only surviving brother of the Yang family after being ambushed by their enemies, and his subsequent training at the Shaolin Temple to avenge his family's defeat. The historical backdrop is pretty much an Excuse Plot for setting up all sorts of martial arts action and set-pieces though.
This film provides examples of:
- Action Prologue: The film starts with the Yeung family of brothers and their fathers, being cornered by an entire horde of Mongol soldiers, and the entire family of outnumbered warriors fighting off wave after wave of enemies.
- Actor Allusion: Gordon Liu training at a Shaolin Temple to become a Warrior Monk? Never heard that one before...
- Badass Family: The entire Yeung family, where all their brothers, led by their father, are generals and warriors.
- Blade on a Stick: The Yeung family uses gigantic spears as their preferred weapons, as with some Mooks who uses guandaos in battle.
- The Cavalry: In the climax, Ng-long's battle against a whole legion of Imperial traitors and enemy spies are quickly reinforced when legions of Shaolin monks who trained him in the temple comes to assist him.
- Creator Cameo: The Hunter who saved Yeung Ng-long's life and inspired him to train at the Shaolin temple, is played by director Lau Kar-Leung.
- Heroic Sacrifice: The Hunter, in order to allow Ng-long to escape, deliberately collapses a section of an underground cavern he's in, burying himself and several Mongol soldiers alive.
- Human Pincushion: One of the Yang brothers gets hit by over a dozen arrows in the opening fight against the Mongol army.
- Martial Pacifist: The Shaolin monks who follows this value in their hearts.
- No Name Given: The Hunter, played by Lau Kar-Leung, despite having a Small Role, Big Impact that plays a crucial role in the story, is never named throughout his entire 8 minutes of screentime.
- Roaring Rampage of Rescue: The final scene, which is Ng-long mounting a One-Man Army to rescue his sister who's been captured by enemy spies.
- Simple Staff: After starting his training in the Shaolin Temple, Ng-long starts using this (forfeiting his default spear) as his weapon.
- Sole Survivor: Yeung Ng-long, only surviving member of the Yeung brothers.
- The Tooth Hurts: In the climax, Ng-long defeats several mooks... by shoving his wooden staff into their mouths, twisting it, and ripping out their teeth in shockingly graphic details. OUCH!!!!
- Training from Hell: Ng-long invokes this on himself to hone his skills in pole-fighting to avenge his family's defeat.
- Warrior Monk: The Shaolin monks, as expected. By the end of the film Ng-long has fully became one of their members.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Ng-long's younger brother and the sixth member of the Yeung family, Luk-long, didn't die in the opening fight scene, but he disappears in subsequent scenes without an explanation given. The reason for this is because Alexander Fu-sheng died in real life (see Trivia for explanation).
- We Hardly Knew Ye: The entire Yeung family, despite taking a huge chunk out of the Mongol army, dies one after another in the opening ambush until Ng-long The Hero is the Sole Survivor. They aren't random extras by the way, being played by prominent martial arts and kung-fu cinema actors, yet they didn't get any characterizations throughout their screentime (all 5 minutes of it).