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Ambush sees officer of the law Wan ChaoFan and his father being framed for a robbery they did not commit. With only his father's sword at the scene and the man nowhere to be found, retribution is aimed at ChaoFan, who flees in order to figure out who really stole the jewels so that he may get revenge and clear the Wan family name. Written by
bob the moo
Good action but messy plot and characters that mostly don't engage
I've watched a few Shaw Brothers films recently and mostly enjoyed them and maybe it was this that meant I was a little disappointed with Mai Fu (or Ambush as it was called for me). The plot sees officer of the law Wan ChaoFan and his father being framed for a robbery they did not commit. With only his father's sword at the scene and the man nowhere to be found, retribution is aimed at ChaoFan, who flees in order to figure out who really stole the jewels so that he may get revenge and clear the Wan family name.
The plot sounds simple enough and it jumps right into it in the way many of these films seem to. From here though it seems to be rather unnecessarily convoluted with other characters and detail that seem broke the flow up for me and hindered me getting into it as much as I would have liked. The murder of ChaoFan's uncle (Chief Fan HsiuHsiu) raises the stakes but the threads that come from this involving Fan's mistress and ChaoFan's cousin Ching Niang really don't work that well and generally it felt a bit loose. The basic simplicity meant following it was no problem overall, but some scenes had me wondering why they did this or included certain bits. The downside of the plot not really holding me was that the action also held me less.
This was a shame because most of it is pretty good, but when I'm not really caring about who anyone is then it doesn't work as well. This doesn't apply to all of the action though and some of it was pretty good and well shot. The high point is the final fight on and around an old windmill. It is a two person fight and I liked it for it's simple black/white place in the narrative and the use of the set. Speaking of sets, the use of locations and buildings was really good here plenty of convincing locations and all used well within the action sequences. Unfortunately the cast don't stand out too much in particular I found Chao Hsiung to be rather stiff and unfriendly; if he cracked a smile during the film I must have looked away. He doesn't really have much charisma and at times I took him for a villain due to his rather morose performance. Yang Chih-Ching is good but underused in his role even if he does make for an good final fight. Ling Chiang is pretty cute but her character didn't work for me and I assumed that she existed almost wholly to provide nudity (which she does well admittedly). Lee Ching is the opposite by being overly simpering throughout the film could have done without her character as she provided so little.
The action sequences carry the film but they will not engage as much as they should mainly because the plot will not hold the attention. It is messy and doesn't flow, with elements that the film really would have been better without.
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