Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow (1978)

Chien Fu (Jackie Chan), an orphan adopted by a kung fu school, is overworked as their janitor and abused by the kung fu teachers as a walking punching-bag. Chien befriends an old beggar (Yuen Siu Tien) by offering him a meal and a place to stay. Unknown to Chien, the old beggar is actually one of the last surviving masters of the Snake-style of kung fu. The old man is on the run from the Eagle Claw clan, which is viciously killing off all of the rival Snake-style kung fu masters. Seeing that Chien is being abused, the old man teaches Chien the footwork of snake style which enables one to avoid an opponent’s attacks.

Snake in the Eagle's Shadow

Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow

The old man leaves the school to find a better hiding spot, but is ambushed by Eagle Claw student Su Chen and an assassin masquerading as a Christian missionary (Roy Horan), and is injured. After being abused once more, Chien later finds him, helping him recover. The old man agrees to give him more lessons, on the condition that he does not call him “sifu” (“master”), since they are friends. The real reason, however, is to keep Chien’s connection with him secret from his pursuers.

Chien practices the lessons and learns to avoid being hurt by the school’s bumbling teachers. When the school is invaded by the Mantis school, to everyone’s amazement Chien easily defeats their master using the snake style. Unfortunately, one of the passing wanderers who witnesses the fight is the high master of the Eagle Clan, who recognizes the style at once and decides to tail Chien.

Chien meets the Eagle Claw clan master, who inquires about the old beggar. The Eagle Claw master lies, saying that he was a colleague of the old beggar and asks Chien to help him find the old man. As a show of ‘proof’, he easily fends off Chien’s attacks. Chien realises that his Snake-style fighting is no match for the style practiced by the stranger, and thus creates a new style from watching his pet cat kill a cobra.

Eventually, Chien unwittingly leads the Eagle Claw master to the old man. In the duel, Chien merges his “cat style” with snake style to finally defeat the Eagle Claw master and his minions. Chien announces that he will call his technique “Cat’s Claw”, but the Old man suggest that he give the technique the name “Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow”.

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