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SIX DIRECTIONS OF BOXING - lightweight kung fu tale with David Chiang
THE SIX DIRECTIONS OF BOXING (1980) is a below-average kung fu crime drama with an awkward script and low-budget production values, redeemed only by a handful of good performers and frequent well-staged fights. It was all filmed on location in Taiwan at a farmhouse, some country roads and a few small sets. It was directed by Tyrone Hsu and the onscreen title on the U.S. release is THE SIX DIRECTIONS BOXING.
David Chiang plays Captain Ai, a provincial constable assigned to the task of apprehending a gun-running outlaw named Chan and finding the hidden stash of weapons. The Captain relies on three allies: his loyal partner, his fiancee, and a retired kung fu master (Simon Yuen) who happens to be his fiancee's father. However, he must also contend with corrupt staff members and a local kung fu teacher working with the outlaws. After arresting Chan, Captain Ai must hold him prisoner until the Commissioner returns to town. Things get harder after the hostile Deputy Commissioner appoints a man in cahoots with the outlaws as Captain Ai's superior. That's the basic plotline and it runs out of intrigue long before the final battle. The characters are never terribly interesting, especially when saddled with unusually poor English dubbing as they are here.
The strongest villain in the piece, Outlaw Chan, appears only at the beginning and at the end. Overall, none of the characters ever appear to be in much danger, so no suspense is created. The fight scenes lack intensity and are rather gimmicky, with Simon Yuen doing some of his trademark `stumbling' kung fu and his daughter doing some fighting as well even though she's not very good. A chimpanzee and a dog are thrown in for comedy relief and to help out the cops in their investigation!
Lung Tien Hsiang, the actor who plays Chan, is very good at snake style fighting and would have been better served with more screen time and more intense combat. On the other hand, Simon Yuen (DRUNKEN MASTER, DANCE OF THE DRUNK MANTIS, SLEEPING FIST) has a generous amount of fighting screen time and is always fun to watch, although his more strenuous leaps and stunts are doubled by one of his sons (from the famed Yuen Clan). Two of these sons, Yuen Cheung Yan and Yuen Yat-Chor, contribute to the fight choreography here as well as make cameo appearances. Also on hand for a fighting cameo is Jack Long (THE 7 GRANDMASTERS), a formidable kung fu star in his own right.
David Chiang wears a cap for most of the film, covering up the fact that his hair was growing back after he shaved it for a Shaolin monk portrayal (see A SLICE OF DEATH). Chiang was never the greatest fighter among kung fu stars of the 1970s and tended to fare better in the more stylized swordplay films of the early 70s (NEW ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, SEVEN BLOWS OF THE DRAGON) than in the purer, no-frills kung fu that came later. But he tries very hard here (as he always did) and acquits himself well in a scene where he learns a special technique from Simon Yuen to counter the snake fist.
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