Badass: Shen Jianzhong
Forget the whole Free Market Western Capitalism Democracy America Fuck Yeah versus State-Run Communist-Socialist Iron Curtain Boot Up Your Ass thing – the primary difference between the Western economic system and the Chinese economic system is that here in the Land of the Free Home of the Brave our evil soulless puppy-mulching mega corporations are content in metaphorically fucking over everyone in the country, turning their hard-earned savings into gold-plated toilet paper, then chilling in their mansions chowing down on dolphin-infused tuna salad sandwiches, whereas in China they cut out the middle man entirely and literally just hire a bunch of guys with clubs to go to your front door, beat the shit out of you, steal your wallet, and collect your wife's tears in a jar so their CEO can drink it, absorb her sorrow and become the ultimate kung fu killing machine.
Shen Jianzhong is a 38 year old dude who up until last month was living in a tiny little basement apartment in the village of Bazhou, Hebei Province. Bazhou is a quaint little town about an hour and a half south of Beijing that despite having roughly 4,000 years of history still merits little more than a Wikipedia stub with a handful of broken links, but with the rapid conversion of the Beijing Metro Area from "gigantic fucking city" to "nightmarish urban dystopian sprawl of William Gibsonian proportions" suddenly a bunch of rich opportunistic assholes decided there was some cash to be made by riding into this place like a horde of bulldozer-riding Mongol warriors, flattening this place straight to hell like the T-800s crushing skulls at the beginning of Terminator 2, and then building fantastically-overpriced luxury condos and diamond-encrusted table tennis coliseums on the smoldering bombed-out ruins.
So about six months ago the evil Chinese Weyland-Yutani Umbrella Corporation goons rolled into Bazhou with one thing on their minds – let's get these assholes who live here out of their homes so we can turn their shitty apartments into designer parking lots for the rich and famous to drunkenly urinate on, in, or around. First, they came to Shen Jianzhong's house with a message of prosperity – "Hey buddy, don't be worried or suspicious or anything, we're not going to totally fuck you over we're just going to make your neighborhood so unassailably awesome that your penis will literally double in size just from living here! You just move out now, we'll pay your rent while you live somewhere else for a while, and then in two years you can move back into a house even bigger than the one you have now, PLUS we'll install a chromed-out ATM/Toaster combo device that literally dispenses tax-free cash money and shards of pure platinum every time you make Pop-Tarts!"
Shen Jianzhong wasn't impressed. First off, he heard that these same Tyrell Corporation sleazeballs had talked to the next town over and offered the folks there an even better deal than they were offering him and he figured if these assholes were going to make up shit about trading in the deed to his house for a mystical leprechaun fairy unicorn that shits out Skittles and gold nougat they might as well lie to him just as hard as they were lying to those other chumps. And second, what the fuck. I've seen emails asking me to wire money to disabled orphan veteran businessmen in the Sudan that were more believable than this horseshit.
Shen and his neighbors told these clowns to stick their balls in a food processor.
Then things got ugly.
I wrote a while back about the scare tactics Chinese developers used against Yang Youde, a man who ended up being forced to defend his farm by building a Warcraft II-style Cannon Tower in his backyard, so you already know these assholes will do whatever they can to wrench the property deed away from whatever poor sucker owns it, then pay off the cops and judges to look the other way. For six months, things got progressively worse. First they put up posters saying leave or face dire consequences. Then they send their gang of goons to block off Shen's entire street, preventing people from entering or leaving. When that didn't work, they started harassing the people that lived there more – yelling at women, telling them they were going to kill their kids. Every day the citizens of the neighborhood walked to work or to the store and were berated by thugs screaming at them and brandishing clubs and bats. Every night they had bricks and fireworks shot through the windows of their homes, death threats stuck under their doors, and anyone unlucky enough to be in his front yard after dark got punched in the face. It was crazy anarchy Night of the Living Dead shit, and the cops didn't do a fucking thing about it.
Most of Shen Jianzhong's neighbors moved away, but this was his home, and he wasn't going anywhere. Then, about a month ago, Shen was getting his stuff together for work, when he heard a commotion outside. His wife had just run out for some Ramen noodles, and as she was coming back from the store she was confronted by a teeming, angry mob of somewhere between 30 and 50 men, some of whom were carrying clubs and other weapons. They harassed her, like they'd done before, but this time they got a little more aggressive. She ran to the house, and tried to close the door on them, but they crushed up against it yelling like a throng of Chinese zombies.
Shen Jianzhong and his 18 year-old son ran to see what was going on, and got to the entryway of their home just in time to see a couple big strong super-manly pieces of human garbage shove the door back in Shen's wife's face, sending her and the groceries toppling over backwards. A couple particularly-heroic fuckers then came into the house after her.
This is probably as good a time as any to mention that Shen Jianzhong is a professional fitness instructor who holds the Chinese National record for roller-assisted push-ups in a minute. And that he taught himself Jeet Kune Do (the fighting style Bruce Lee invented) at the age of 18 and has been training in it every single day for the last twenty years straight.
It was on.
Shen Jianzhong saw red. He didn't give a fuck that fifty pissed-off bully motherfuckers had shown up at his front door with pipes and clubs to forcibly evict him from his home with massive blunt force trauma to the facial region, or that his odds of surviving what was about to go down were about as good as Neil Patrick Harris' chances of going fifteen rounds with Kimbo Slice – watching his wife get knocked to the floor was the last fucking straw. They had pushed him too far, and now Jianzhong and his son were going to go Odysseus and Telemachus on these bastards and shove the Way of the Intercepting Fist all the way up their fucking collective asses:
all that you have now, and what you could add from elsewhere,
even so, I would not stay my hand from the slaughter,
until I had taken revenge for all the suitors transgression.
now the choice has been set before you, either to fight me
or run, if any of you can escape death and its spirits.
But I think not one man will escape from sheer destruction."
Shen Jianzhong and his son went to work dismembering everyone around them in a scene I mentally equate to that of Shen's idol, Bruce Lee, dismantling hordes of faceless jobbers with a variety of weaponry in Enter the Dragon. In a brief but incredibly brutal flurry of kicks, punches, elbow strikes, and tiger claws, the Family Shen whirled throughout their living room, beating every fuck out of every jackass wannabe thug stupid enough to wander aimlessly into their wheelhouses. Shen's quote on the subject is priceless – he just says, "It was self defence. I really cannot remember what kung fu skills I used. It was quite messy. Only seven people were injured because the rest were scared and stayed outside. Some of them ran away."
Which is basically him saying he would have snapped every single one of them in half if he'd had the chance, and that he was disappointed that he only pummeled seven men unconscious basically by himself.
This is a video of the aftermath, taken by a neighbor who missed the actual fight, but was smart enough to grab his iPhone and record the carnage afterwards. (Note: There is nothing bloody or gruesome or disturbing in this video, for those of you who are squeamish).
The video, in case it ever gets pulled, is a man walking through Shen Jianzhong's house. When he gets to the living room, there is a FUCKING PILE OF SEVEN UNCONSCIOUS MEN clustered in a very small area, all laying face-first where Shen had planted them, with a couple other chumps laying around holding their heads and faces and balls which are all sore from over-kicking. It's literally not that different from the Jet Li picture I just posted above.
When the corrupt city cops showed up, however, they weren't happy. They tried to arrest SHEN (!!) for assault, so he ran the fuck out of there with his family and fled to Beijing, where his son was promptly arrested and held without bail. Shen, not sure of what to do, posted that video on Chinese YouTube, where it racked up two million hits in under a week. A British reporter went there to interview him, but in the middle of the interview, Shen bizarrely got a call from a man who apparently was a high-ranking member of the Chinese Communist Party, who claimed he saw the video and was "outraged" by the corruption and vowed to set everything right.
Let's hope it happens. Badassitude like this should not go unrewarded.
Ben Thompson is the writer and creator of badassoftheweek.com and author of the books Badass, Badass: Birth of a Legend, and Badass: Ultimate Deathmatch. He has written for Cracked, Fangoria, Penthouse, and The American Mustache Institute, and can occasionally beat the Star Wars Trilogy arcade game with one quarter.