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[BJ 101]: The Legend of Kung Fu
Awesome? Definitely probably. But just how awesome? And in what character does said awesomeness manifest itself?
By Apr 9, 2013 Activities
BJ101 is an ongoing column on SmartBeijing, in which our writers actually visit tourists destinations in Beijing we've all heard about, ignored, driven by, or thought about going to but never did. Until right now.


SmartBeej's ticket channel SmartTicket is slinging tickets for The Legend of Kung Fu, a long-running martial arts and modern dance hybrid show performed at the Red Theater in Beijing. Ever fearful of maintaining the integrity of our wheelings and dealing, I thought I would go check it out.

We'd never ever sell tickets to anything shit. Never. No, not ever!

So, is it rad? Or crappy? Is it good?

Yeah, it's great. Yeah. I really liked it. Yes. I really had a great time seeing it. I enjoyed it. Yes, it's good.

The Legend of Kung Fu: it's a nice, big whirling thing of hard-fought acrobatic talents, dance spectacle, and endurance performance -- heavy on "holy shit" moments -- swathed in an fuzzy, Tao of the Lion King sentimentality and spiritual affability. Basically, it's ripped monk dudes swinging around on ropes, bashing things on their heads, whipping around numchucks (sweet), spears, and swords, flying around in the sky with smoke machines, having showdowns, flippin', bippin', and boppin', and also a real important message to just be chill and get some enlightenment already -- a message so, so relevant in these troubled times, I think.

We've all got to learn how to hadouken our inner demons as well as our outer ones is basically what they're saying.

The story focuses on the path to enlightenment for young monk, Chun Yi, and his quest to fulfill his dream of being a Kung Fu master -- basically the dream of every boy the world over, plus or minus a Sega Genesis. On his journey, he encounters many challenges -- ego, temptation, the dark side of The Force -- and the narrative progresses through these spectacular martial arts and dance set pieces presented as metaphorical representations of his struggles.

So many struggles...

So much drama...

Just gotta jump kick a bunch of dudes...

The performance is a world-traveled thing (Branson!), and the Beijing rendition is also geared towards an international audience. Although the actors themselves remain mute for the show, an overarching narrative spoken through the show joins the scenes together, and it's done in English with Chinese-language subtitles up on a digital screen.

I saw the show with a Chinese friend and asked her why it was in English. She said, "Well, Legend of Kung Fu -- this show is really for our Western friends...."

All the same, it came across as honest and sincere to me, and the dedication and ability of the performers is really quite affecting.

Wonderful, I say! Numchucks! Circle of life!

If you go, here's a tip: try to sit in the first two rows. They fog machine the shit out of those two rows and it's awesome.

Also, after the show, for 30rmb they let you take pictures with the performers. Get on that. Just run up to the stage and push those Norwegian tourist kids in front of you out of the way.

Probably don't try to upstage the performers though. They get a little salty. Party foul.


The Legend of Kung Fu is performed daily at 7:30pm at Red Theater. Ticket are priced between 180rmb-680rmb, available right here, which is all too convenient.
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