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THE INVINCIBLE FIST Lo Lieh stars in minor Shaw Bros. swordplay film
THE INVINCIBLE FIST (1969) is a lesser swordplay film from Shaw Bros. director Chang Cheh (ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, BLOOD BROTHERS, HAVE SWORD WILL TRAVEL, etc.) starring Lo Lieh (FIVE FINGERS OF DEATH) as a sword-wielding bounty hunter, Master Tieh, who goes under the nickname, "Invincible Fist." However, despite the title, there are no fists on display in this film. The action strictly involves swords and such nifty exotic weapons as the Golden Abacus,which shoots out little golden balls, goose-shaped flying stars, and a tube which shoots out a chain with a sharp projectile at the end which embeds itself into a victim enabling a fighter to pull his opponent in close. There are many fight scenes involving multiple combatants, often played out in fields of high reeds (built on Shaw Bros. studio sets) which offer convenient cover to the various parties stalking each other.
The plot is a simple one, involving the efforts of Master Tieh and his band of fighters to apprehend a skilled band of robbers and their numerous henchmen who have struck four times within the past two years, robbing and killing prominent families in the province. Ku Feng (THE MAGIC BLADE) plays one of the four lead robbers, who disguises himself as "Cripple Peng" when not robbing. Chen Sing (SHAOLIN MONK) plays another of the robbers and has one excellent fight scene early on where he wields a metal spear. David Chiang (THE NEW ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN), in an early major role, plays Master Tieh's brother and chief lieutenant and distinguishes himself in many fight scenes also. Future kung fu star Cliff Lok (KUNG FU GENIUS, RING OF DEATH) is visible as one of the bad guys. The robbers ride around in a carriage which holds six-to-eight men, but is pulled by a single poor horse who clearly has a hard time lugging it uphill as it's called on to do here.
There is a subplot in which a wounded Lo Lieh is nursed back to health by the virtuous blind daughter (Li Ching) of the head bandit, played by Fang Mien. This whole sequence might have slowed the film down, but it's thankfully short and comes too late in the proceedings to do any serious damage. A scene between the two men in front of the blind woman foreshadows a very similar scene played out between Danny Lee and Chow Yun Fat in front of a blind Sally Yeh in John Woo's THE KILLER (1989).
Again, this is not one of the great martial arts films from Shaw Bros., coming out at a time when Chang Cheh was putting greater effort into films like GOLDEN SWALLOW, HAVE SWORD WILL TRAVEL and RETURN OF THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, but it is polished and well-staged and offers plenty of action. Fans of this genre will not be too disappointed.
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