No less than six action directors (including film director Tong Gaai, Yuen Bun and Yuen Wah) contribute their considerable talents to this film. The action is lean and carefully attuned to the emotional storyline. It is never gratuitous and the pacing is excellent. It is by turns comedic, heroic, stunt-oriented, swashbuckling, or tense, and director Tong delivers the right emotional content at the right time. Elegant pole fighting, rooftop leaps, broadswords in a burning building, acrobatics in a rice granary and the requisite full-scale restaurant melee host a good variety of Shaw action extras, weapons, and fight scenarios. A mature Ti Lung handles his action scenes with grace and aplomb. Chen Kwan Tai is given extended opportunities to display his talent with the Double Headed Spears and young Robert Mak Tak Law succeeds in his action scenes with seasoned screenfighter Lee Hoi Sang.
The production values for Opium and the Kung Fu Master are standard higher-end Shaw Studio style. The photography is not remarkable but captures well both action and intimate moments, and the sets and costumes are typical stylin’ Qing dynasty fare. The many interior sets include lavish artistic detail, and the street scenes are filled with quality extras.
The bottom line: all essential components of this film are carefully attended to and exceptionally well-balanced. Opium and the Kung Fu Master is not simply a light piece of chop socky entertainment. While it is not a life-changing film, it is a solid, quality kung fu drama that can stand up to repeated viewings. Shaw Studio, kung fu genre and Ti Lung fans will probably want to add this film to their collection.