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Whitehaired supervillians in kung fu movies

Your kung fu is weak, old man!

Although most Western movie watchers will instantly recognise the above picture as being “Pai Mei” from the movie “Kill Bill”; the whitehaired Mei was actually a good guy in this movie and is a throwback to a character seen littered throughout kung fu movies, but always as the villain.

But the question is — why?

Pai Mei” is a character closely derived from a real person called Bak Mei. I won’t go into too much detail about Bak Mei as Wikipedia already discusses the relationship between the Pai Mei chracter and Bak Mei better than I ever could.

The character of Pai Mei is seen in different guises, but the most famous movies are “Executioners From Shaolin” and “Fist of the White Lotus”; although Pai Mei is not the only white haired supervillain. Carter Wong was excellent as “Chi Kung” in the cult movie “Born Invincible” (see Born Invincible clip on youtube)

Indeed, I remember a load of Shaw Brothers and other kung fu movie where there would always be a white haired supervillain stroking his beard whilst taunting his enemy with words such as “Your kung fu is weak, old man”, etc.

The white hair represents a cut above everything else. Essentially, the more white hair, the harder you are… but, as in the movie “Born Invincible” conceeds; a white haired supervillian isn’t totally invunerable — he always has one weak spot, and no… it’s not the balls!

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