Infinite Kung Fu walks you through familiar corridors in the house of martial mayhem, but still smashes your face through walls of wonder and into rooms where kung fu is afraid to go! The Martial World is ruled by a mysterious emperor whose five armies are each headed by a cruel and highly skilled kung fu master. Lei Kung, a soldier in one of these armies, grows tired of his master’s evil ways and seeks enlightenment elsewhere. However, he soon finds that he’s been chosen as the one who will put an end to the emperor’s tyrannical rule — personally! Allegiances are blurred as techniques are perfected, and Lei Kung becomes less certain who’s friend and who’s foe in each chapter! Fists fly, limbs are lost, and blood vessels burst in this tale of furious rivals, supernatural masters, walking corpses, and above all, raging kung fu!
Another Tarantino-inspired, over-the-top homage to 1970s pop culture, in this case primarily to the decade's kung fu movies, with a few blaxploitation characters and lots of zombies thrown in for good measure. I initially enjoyed the book's often bizarre concepts and competently choreographed fight scenes, but eventually grew more than a little tired of its tongue-in-cheek tone designed to impress the kung fu fanboys.
Being almost entirely driven by my tastes, I find myself in the unenviable position of being unable to appreciate any number of things I might otherwise find to be fantastic—things of merit and quality! So while I can appreciate talent and imagination in all kinds of cultural produce, I cannot enjoy a fair number of those books, movies, and records. It's not easy on me—in a spiritual sense. I would love to take as great a pleasure in these superior incarnations of the creative spirit as I would had they only been crafted closer to my tastes.
All this is to preface why I didn't enjoy Infinite Kung Fu despite it being a marvelous, carefully produced work and house to the exhibition of a major talent.
In the late '70s, I adored weekends because local television syndicates (KTLA 5 and KCOP 13, if I recall) would fill the weekends with Godzilla movies and kung fu theater. It was a glorious time to be a kid. I distinctly remember the delicious terror of The Flying Guillotine and other violent, bizarre martial fantasies. I'm not certain if it was being over-saturated with violent, action-y media in the thirty-plus years hence that did it, or if I just turned smug and elitist, but none of that appeals to me anymore. I watched Jason Statham's Transporter a few years back and despite lots of testosterone and choreography and kinetic dynamism and explosions, I was only interested in the character interactions. I felt let down by myself. Was this the kind of person I had grown into? I avoid rewatching Die Hard or Aliens or The Last of the Mohicans for fear that my former go-to action paeans will have lost their luster.
And if I had once-though-no-longer enjoyed martial arts films, I have never acquired a taste for explorations of the undead. I've actually never seen more than a few minutes of Night of the Living Dead and while I do bear affection for the Evil Dead series, that's more just a salute to my enjoyment of Bruce Campbell and Sam Raimi than anything.1 I liked 28 Days Later and the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers okay, but in each case for reasons unattached to the horror elements involved. I haven't been interested in watching the AMC adaptation of The Walking Dead—a comics series of which I own three volumes and have only read most of two.
So when you discover that Infinite Kung Fu is a hybrid of martial arts adventure and zombie stories, you might wonder that I could have been induced to pick it up at all. I wonder myself that I ever gave the book a shot. Still, it's well-regarded and there was quite a bit of excitement over its publication. And with good reason: it's a fantastic, amazing book—that I don't like.
Creator Kagan McLeod has an evident love for the genres in which he's working. Infinite Kung Fu's world is overrun by undeath and only the masters of good kung fu can defeat those of poison kung fu and return life and balance to the land. Every page is crafted with care and affection. McLeod employs a visual style reminiscent of Chinese brushwork, with the ink tapering off into stranded, nomadic lines of inky gravel. His figures are elegant and abrupt, delicate and angry—so much the better for depicting a beautiful young monk bursting open to reveal hundreds of centipedes. The story elements are deliciously reminiscent of the most gratuitous moments of the martial arts films I grew up on. And in case someone was skeptical, McLeod offers an afterward detailing his own history of martial arts and the Chinese film industry (so far as it pertains to the kung fu genre).
The book is gorgeously printed and painstakingly crafted. It is, so far as any eye can tell, a labour of love. And yet, because the subject-matter was so far outside of my tastes, I couldn't find myself interested. If McLeod had subverted genre expectations (I mean, beyond crossing Kung Fu Theater with The Walking Dead), I might have found a rack on which to hang my hat. But that wasn't his goal. This is McLeod's love-letter to genre. If it could be said without disparagement, I'd describe the book as wallowing in its sources.2 For someone remotely interested in what this book is selling—kung fu vs. the undead—Infinite Kung Fu may be one of the best comics to come out last year. Because it really is amazing. If you like that sort of thing.
Notes 1. I do bear affection for the Evil Dead series.
Besides Campbell's gradual descent into a more and more comedic version of Ash (he's throwing out ridiculous and awesome one-liners in Army of Darkness as though they were shuriken), I adore a particular scene in Evil Dead II. The laughing shack. It's one of my favourite pieces of filmmaking. It's so bizarre and aptly placed that I can't help but love it. It is the scene that I think of first whenever I think of either Bruce Campbell, Sam Raimi, or the Evil Dead series. And that's saying a lot because there were so many inventive and interesting scenes in those films.
2. If it could be said without disparagement, I'd describe the book as wallowing in its sources.
I really do mean that in an entirely positive sense. It's refreshing to see someone so un-self-consciously dive into that thing that scratches their itch.
So here's the deal, if one or all of the following statements apply to you, you should NOT read this graphic novel:
* you hate martial arts/kung fu movies, especially from the 1970s
* you have no idea what the terms "Shaolin", "Wuxia" and "Wushu" are and quite frankly, you don't care
* you are confused about the connection between "blaxploitation" and martial arts films (trust me, if you don't understand the connection, you will be even more confused by the character of Moog Joogular!)
* you loved Seth Grahame-Smith's graphic novel "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" and wished that more graphic novels were mash-ups of classic Austen works
* you don't like fantasy, especially Asian epic-fantasy with complex characters, confusing narrative and a lot of senseless violence mixed with slight touches of humour and romance
Okay, now that I have weeded out the wannabes, those that have remained should check out this terrific graphic novel!
McLeod's book is a homage to martial arts films that some of us grew up watching and continue to seek out. Right from the beginning of this book, I was not disappointed. McLeod's storytelling is simply amazing. Rather than set the story in the ancient past, the story is set in current time where mankind has suffered a huge catastrophe and society has regressed back to a state where the "sword" and superstition rules. The plot centers around Yang Lei Kung, a former soldier, who is a student to the immortal Chung Li Ch'uan. Similar to many fantasy-epics, Lei Kung endures a number of trials to prove himself worthy of becoming a "Master of Martial Arts" in order to get closer to the Emperor and destroy his plans' of conquering the world. Along the way, Lei Kung meets other students of the other immortals, such as Moog and Windy, and must decide who is friend and who is a foe. Adding to the tension is the hordes of zombies which often serve as the cannon fodder for many of the action sequences.
On an emotional level, this story has it all: anger, betrayal, jealousy, fear, loyalty, obedience, defiance, obsession, hatred, friendship, mercy, and love. Yes, this story got a little confusing at times as new characters were introduced and their names started to look alike but it didn't take a long to get the reader back on track especially if you flip to the very helpful guide in the beginning that introduced the 8 immortals and named each of their student.
Overall, a must-read for martial-arts and Asian fantasy fans alike.
I'd be definitely lying if I say I didn't enjoy Infinite Kung Fu, because man, Infinite Kung Fu is tons and tons of fun! It is so incredible that Kagan McLeod packed so much fun in a tome so thick, densely drawn with the best movement and action illustration I have seen. Infinite Kung Fu is certainly on top in the fun department.
McLeod doesn't also shy away from mashing-up different genres. Although Infinite Kung Fu is a straight-up martial arts comics that we have countlessly seen in 70s martial arts movies and from those Sunday afternoon Chinese Kung Fu TV, the material includes subgenres of zombie action, blaxpoitation and even a bit of steampunk (at which that wicked entrance of Charles at the climax part caught me by surprise).
Infinite Kung Fu is best read when you are not thinking about it and just chomping on the graceful illustrations made by the author which truly embody what a big budget Hollywood-plus-Bruce Lee-esque martial arts movie would be if it is done in the graphic novel medium. There might be a bit of backstories and re-reading to do because of the abundance of characters, but thankfully the whole reading experience is not compromised by those names.
Speaking of names, there's one I will not forget: Moog Joogular (play Isaac Hayes' Theme from Shaft here). He's the embodiment of funky groovy kung fu! May Buddha bless him!
Now as I've said before, Infinite Kung Fu is best enjoyed as a mindless action graphic novel, because it is so brilliant and deliciously good in doing that. So with that said, I am pretty much surprised with the ending, disappointed even because all of a sudden, the philosophical and spiritual aspects of the book has suddenly taken the wheel and drove the story to a sudden, anti-climatic end. I honestly don't know what happened in the end. I just hoped that the end could have been fleshed out instead of being so abrupt.
Received from: Top Shelf Productions Received Via: NetGalley.com
I grew up watching "Once Upon A Time in China" starring Jet Li. I was so addicted to the movie that I even enrolled in Tae Kwon Do lessons (couldn't find Kung Fu lessons in the Philippines). I love Kung Fu movies but I love Kung Fu novels more. After being introduced to "Return of the Condor Heroes" by Jin Yong, I tried to read whatever Kung Fu novel I get my hands on that is in English. I was such a Wuxia fan back then but it stopped after I couldn't find anymore Kung Fu novels that I could understand.
Reading Infinite Kung Fu reminded me why I love watching those movies and reading those books. This is more of an attempt in merging the modern and ancient world but focusing on the legends of the times. I think Kagan McLeod added some Zombies in the mix not only because it was such a famous theme right now but also it added more action and gore in the story. Whatever is the reason, it was a nice mix.
It was an epic story with more than 400 pages of sequential art and has an establish history and purpose that I just continued reading until its done. Some parts are a bit confusing, but you just have to read the narrative often and you're back on track.
This is the biggest, craziest, epic fantasy kung fu story you could imagine. Written, drawn, inked and lettered by Kagan McLeod, it's a book ten years in the making, and the commitment really shows. The artwork is gorgeous and imaginative, with a slightly cartoony style that only helps to emphasise the crazy awesome fun places the story goes too. While it does have some flaws, I think they are flaws ingrained within the genre itself, and are perhaps even deliberately used (what would a kung fu story be without evil villains who laugh maniacally all the time, after all?) The mythology can be a little hard to keep straight at times though. I have a feeling that this is a book that would really reward a reread or two.
Infinite Kung-Fu is an amalgam of Kung-Fu, Zombie and Blaxploitation movies transformed via delightful brush work into one fat brick of a comic.
The story is at its strongest when solidly drawing on Eastern mysticism, and following a sort of parable structure. The stylish influences of blaxploitation give it a "mod" feel that's enjoyable, and if you like shambling zombies you will not want for more.
The story structure sprawls a bit, and the plot is choppy at times, but I readily forgave these things and invented a rationalization that perhaps they were a legacy of the source material. I haven't seen that many kung fu movies, but storytelling finesse doesn't seem to be top priority for a lot of them.
The artwork, though, is definitely the highlight of this book for me. To say the brushwork is lively would be a severe understatement, and I love the references to calligraphy throughout. The action poses are incredibly inventive, with engaging and expressive distortions to the anatomy.
Zombies don't do anything for me as a rule, but I really enjoyed Kagan's cosmological explanation for their existence. I was also grateful that the book is not in color. If all that blood had been red ink instead of black I would never have even picked it up!
Containing as much fantasy as Kung Fu history, this book takes the reader on a journey as Lei Kung travels a difficult pathway through the martial world. Serving an emperor who is a ghost, fighting the undead, battling poison kung fu and communing with the eight immortals, Lei Kung delivers not only action packed kung fu, but philosophical lessons as well. Reminiscent of the classic movies of Hong Kong, this book is an adventure for every kung fu film fan.
I picked this book up because every tim eI went to tidy the shelves it was out of place. It was as if it was calling to me, and so I decided to give it a try. I do like kung fu films, and after reading the introduction, I knew I was meant to read this book.
I finished it, and I wanted to read more. This was a fun filled, fist flying, Shaolin monk of a good read.
I would recommend this to Aidan. I know he likes kung fu movies, and graphic novels. How could he resist?
To start, the artwork is incredible. I think he used a Japanese ink brush is my impression, but the line work is absolutely breathtaking. If you look closely at each figure and how the lines come together to make, you'll see what I mean. The setting is intriguing, a post-apocalyptic Japan where the world is filled with zombies as a result of a lack of lives to reincarnate into. I wish I'd worded that better. So instead of reincarnating as a bird or fish or human, when people die, they are forced to reincarnate into dead bodies. The book also delves into traditional martial arts lore, including The 8 Immortals. And, of course, there's kung fu. Maybe you aren't into kung fu; you don't have to be. The artwork alone carries this comic. But the kung fu is spectacular and riveting. The characters are strange and compelling. Blah blah. I loved this comic so much.
It's a kung fu comic with zombies. I'm not sure I have to say more. But Kagan McLeod has created an incredibly fun and inventive book here, one in which the action never stops or - more importantly for anyone who's sat through a martial arts movie in which the same moves are recycled over and over againg - becomes tedious. It wears its wushu film foundations on its sleeve, but remains distinct; not only distilling the entire tradition (even down to the Chinese film genre's effect on blaxploitation films, in the character of Moog Joogular) but adapting it effectively in a new medium. The result is a comic more epic than any Chinese martial arts film I've ever seen, and I've seen a lot of them.
I really loved this graphic novel! McLeod really delivers on creating a classic martial arts story, and one that any fan or student will appreciate. As a fan of martial arts and films, I really liked the plot in this graphic novel and the different stylized tropes that we have come to know well in each of the different characters. McLeod really hit on some good points of what martial arts and practicing should mean to someone through the character of Yang Lei Kung. My favorite scene is when he is talking with Li Zhao over a meal. I studied martial arts in a school where instructors taught whatever they could to a student as long as the student showed dedication and patience. They also taught all styles and did not discriminate and hold one above the other; they would often say what is a great form for one student may not be the same for another--everyone is different, but it is up to them to find the style that is the best for them. So, I can truly appreciate when Yang Lei Kung says, "With a basic knowledge and respect for all styles, one can always hope to counter any technique!" and "A kung fu instructor's greatest accomplishment is to have his student surpass him. It's a pity for some students their teachers keep their best techniques to themselves." Infinite Kung Fu is definitely a great read for anyone of any age who has an any kind of interest in martial arts.
If you like the old 70s Kung Fu movies, zombies, and graphic novels full of fighting and violence, you'll like Kagan McLeod's “Infinite Kung Fu.” This 464 page graphic novel is light and fun entertainment, just like the old Kung Fu movies. I read it for the same reason I watch those old movies once in a while. Fun escapism reading.
The art work is great. It is black and white and might be a bit too graphic with blood and such for the squeamish, but I doubt people that are squeamish are going to check this book out. It's more fighting and blood than philosophy.
Also interesting are the Introduction by Gordon Liu and the Foreword by Colin Geddes. I also liked the Kung Fu School at the end of the book that discusses a very brief history of Kung Fu Cinema. Bottom line, if you want a fun violent graphic novel with a Kung Fu theme reminiscenttt of the old movies from the 1970s, check out Kagan McLeod's “Infinite Kung Fu.”
McLeod's epic tale successfully apes the martial art films of the 70s while simultaneously delivering a wholly unique creation. Ruled by a mysterious evil emperor and his five kung fu armies, The Martial World needs a hero. Enter ex-soldier Yang Lei Kung, latest disciple of The Eight Immortals. Martial arts mayhem ensues with (literally) flying limbs, zombies, ghosts, traitors, death and an abundance of fun, chaotic action. Replete with fascinating characters (with the equally interesting names of Moog Joogular, Bunzo 12, Bald Bo, Windy, Goldy, and Thursday Thoroughgood), mysticism, and bloody violence, Infinite Kung Fu delivers the real deal as the ultimate martial arts graphic novel.
Wow! This was a ton of fun. If you're a fan of Kung Fu film, this is an absolute must read. Writer/illustrator Kagan McLeod pays homage to the classics, while crafting his own unique story. The art is really well done, the story moves with an excellent flow, and the whole thing puts a smile on this Kung Fu fanboy's face. It made me want to dive back into classic Shaw Bros., Golden Harvest, and Cathay films with abandon. Great stuff.
sometimes a bit too scattered and a bit too drenched in its own pastiche for its own good,-but still very well crafted and researched. McLeod clearly loves Kung Fu and martial arts films and you feel it on each page-his very kinetic, splotchy use of inks really helps each panel and character come to life in just a few strokes. didnt quite blow me away as much as i wanted it to but that being said American comics would be in a much better place if we had more books like this one
From the start, it’s all about fighting dead people coming back to life. It includes certain styles of kung fu, which is great for those who are into skill combos. Of course, the evil side and good side are clearly discernible. This book is noteworthy for avid fighter enthusiasts, because though having great action and battles, it is truly very gory. “WAAAAAAAA” just looking at page 264 you can see a general slicing and dicing with a particular wind style kung fu. Mixed in with some gory parts, you can see the enemies’ head toppling to the ground. This kind of massacring is found on nearly every few pages. The action hardly stops and is usually woven in with the storyline. Once reaching another setting, the fighting continues. Like many other action graphic novels, it seems as though the fate of the world is based on the decision of just one person, and very nearly the person chooses the “wrong” choice when lured by the evil king; or in this case, an emperor. Also, it seems as though the fighting is very close and just barely the main character defeats the enemy. However, in this book the evil emperor leaves the choice of world destruction or life up to the main character, Lei Kung. It seems as though Lei Kung is not truly sure which side to choose, but decides that sustaining life on earth is a better choice than global destruction. However, the storyline can be a little messy as it is trying to be explained. For instance, in the beginning, the dead raise up because there is almost no life left in the world. It seems a little bit weird though because usually kung fu and a zombie apocalypse don’t get mixed up together. Many parts of this book have fighters fighting resurrected people; these resurrected people are apparently killing to free up space in the world. The problem is that the world has a very shallow population, so continuation of killing could also exterminate the entire human race. This is against the idea of freeing up space so one can revive again.
This book may be thought of as an action type kung fu book, but it also entertains an idea that the world is being destroyed slowly by mankind. The emperor is only trying to put it out of its misery. The art of this book is not that it has wonderful graphics and that the kung fu is great with many styles, (though that is a much appreciated bonus) but also theologically one where mankind is forcing itself to destruction. However, in this book the author also creates a kind of hero who saves it by sheer determination. This book is great on many levels. It has everything one could ask for in action and kung fu. The only thing I would advise is to expect many scenes that just seem informal and downright scary. It is different from usually kung fu books where it also deals with religion and different deities, as well as the idea of balance, also known as Yin and Yang. I recommend this book to mainly adults, as the scenes in this book are a bit mature based on the fighting.
Do you like Kung Fu? Do you like zombies? If you don’t...why the heck not? And if you do this book is perfect read for you. Heck even if you aren’t a fan of Kung Fu you should still pick up this fun adventure and give it a read.
Set in a post apocalyptic world where a catastrophe has forced the world to revert to ancient traditions and superstitions, and evil emperor and his five armies control the land. Seven of the eight immortals took apprentices to try to help avert the disaster and all but two defected to the emperor who has helped upset the balance of the world. This imbalance has led to the rise of zombies in the landscape and they’re coming back faster than they can be killed. The last of the immortals, their leader, finally takes an apprentice an ex-solider named Yang Lei Kung. It is hoped that Yang is that one that is able to defeat the emperor and restore balance to the world, but he first must face many challenges. Along the way he’ll meet the apprentices of the other immortals, face death, and fight a few zombies along the way.
McLeod's ability to tell a story and relate to the reader is fantastic, even if you don’t know anything about kung fu. While it helps to have some knowledge of kung fu to understand the story, McLeod creates a compelling world and characters, one that a reader will feel at home in and recognize as their own even though it’s a different timeline. While the journey that the hero takes is a familiar one, it’s still fun to see how he faces the challenges and what he’ll do to overcome them at the end, often using his brains vs. kung fu. My one complaint with the story is that the end starts to drag out a bit long with more fighting and less story than I would like.
The artwork is absolutely incredible and worth the price of the book alone. The style really reminds me a lot of older Japanese ink drawings and he captures that feel of grace and simplicity. Pen, brush, and ink create dynamic characters that move and dance gracefully on the page. It’s a joy just to look at detail and time spent capturing the characters and backgrounds.
Overall this is a fun read for all ages, regardless if you know much about kung fu or zombies. 4 out of 5 stars.
I would say this is definitely a book for those who grew up with a strong love of Kung Fu films. There were plot elements that I found to be very cheesy, but I think that it's related to that genre of cinema, which I plan to drown myself in this year.
There was quite a plethora of characters and I enjoyed the window we got to look into and climb into in regards to learning about Chinese mythos. I pay a lot of attention to the representation of POCs and women in anything I read and the attempt to include blaxploitation, which is connected with kung fu cinema in the US, was greatly appreciated. However, I felt the presence of women was very weak and the women served relatively weak roles except for the character Windy.
In any case, the main selling point for me was the art. I work at a comic shop and while I was busy doing whatever task, I hadn't noticed that my boss tossed two copies of this onto the shelf. I found myself mesmerized by the brush strokes and the strong usage of ink, especially given that I enjoy that medium and continually incorporate it into my own art work. When one copy slipped under my nose, I grabbed the other, flipped through it and was entranced by the art work: I had to have it. I immediately purchased the comic.
I would greatly suggest this comic, especially to those who enjoy kung fu and the loose brushwork. The plot and the world pulled me in a little, and I'll admit that this mostly has 4 stars because of the strong art work. I don't regret this purchase though: I will definitely be staying the panel layouts and the application of brush work.
If you like Kung Fu, especially old Kung Fu films, you will probably enjoy this book. It is like reading through a kung fu movie, convoluted plot and all. C'mon, you know you really watch these films for the fight scenes, right? And this book has plenty of martial arts action as well. But the plot was actually pretty interesting in itself. Lei Kung deserts from the Ghost Emperor's army in a world that is ruled by martial arts. However, he is Chosen by the Immortals to fight the emperor in order to restore the balance of life in the world. You see, the reincarnation cycle is in danger as there are not enough living for the dead to reincarnate into. So, there are plenty of dead zombies roaming around. Is that enough plot for you? Our hero has to save the world while mastering some very serious Kung Fu techniques along the way. And that is the basics. In addition, as I mentioned, there is plenty of martial arts action, and the art in this book brings it to life very well. The only reason I did not give it that fifth star is because the tale does get a little silly,or maybe just a little Deus ex machina, not sure which towards the end. But I won't spoil the end. Overall, this is an excellent graphic novel that I highly recommend. It has a bit of everything for various readers. It is a fun read. It has great art, and it is very entertaining. It may well be, for me, one of the best books overall I read this year.
X meets Y: This is every great Shaw Brothers movie meets the Walking Dead
Themes: It has themes focusing on duty, destiny, faith and the cycle of nature.
Who would love it? Readers of: Kenji, Veritas, History's Strongest Disciple, Fist of the North Star
Can't say enough about how great this book is. It is an homage to the great Wuxia/Martial Arts genre written in a way a true lover of the genre can appreciate and be thankful for. The fight scenes are kinetic, riveting and easy followed. The stakes are as high as they can get and worth every page. The end of the novel was a bit short and a tad anti-climatic, but it's extremely thematic and makes sense. Also, it was educational.
I wish I hadn't read this so that I could read it all over again.
Great job Mr. McLeod, you just inspired me to fill up my Netflix cue for the foreseeable future!
Rarely have I been as pleasantly surprised as I was by this. I'm not a huge kung fu fan, but McLeod shows just how cool it can be, with interesting characters, crazy kung fu powers, and a plot-line that's truly unique. His art is stylistically perfect for the subject, with a heavy brushed-ink look intermixed with scratchy pen lines and grayscale watercolor. But the really impressive thing is the sense of motion and action. I read a lot of superhero comics, but I can't think of any other artists who capture the frenetic motion and poetry of martial arts as well as McLeod. Violent, funny, strange, and beautiful.