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An evil gang attacks the Chi school of Golden Sword Kung Fu. One student sacrifices his life to save his teacher and his school, his dying wish is that his son be taken in as a student. ... See full summary »
Set in Hong Kong and Vancouver, the story follows Mac Ramsey and Li Ann Tsei, lovers and professional thieves who are separated while fleeing the powerful Hong Kong underworld crime lord ... See full summary »
The Yang family was the loyal strong-arm of the Imperial army. But a jealous General betrays the Eilte Spearman and their father to the opposing Mongol army. After an ambush of a battle, ... See full summary »
Jet Li weasels out of the north Shaolin temple to assassinate a despotic ruler at the ruler's extravagant public birthday celebration. Two other men from the south Shaolin temple also set ... See full summary »
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It's swordplay not gunplay in this early John Woo film
LAST HURRAH FOR CHIVALRY is an early film (1978) by John Woo, who is better known for his Hong Kong crime thrillers (THE KILLER, HARD-BOILED) and Hollywood hits (FACE/OFF, MI2). It's a costume swordplay film from Golden Harvest and it looks very different from similar films then being done at the rival Shaw Bros. studio. Even then, Woo was displaying a directorial talent that set him apart from the Shaw Bros. directors (as good as some of them were). The photography and editing here display a cinematic gloss comparable to the Japanese samurai films of the time. However, the martial arts are not as pure as in the Shaw Bros. films and the 2 lead fighters are generally not as skilled as the top-ranked members of the Shaw repertory company (e.g. Gordon Liu, Fu Sheng, the 5 Venoms).
Even so, the fight scenes are consistently exciting and are sprinkled throughout a well-developed storyline with a set of intriguing characters. It's all about the budding friendship between fighters Cheng San (Wei Pai, a sometime Shaw star) and Green Suit (Damian Lau) and the path to their impending battle with villain Pai Kang (Lee Hoi San), and their ultimate betrayal by the mutual friend who had manipulated them into battle. It looks forward to Woo's A BETTER TOMORROW and BULLET IN THE HEAD each of which featured a trio of male buddies, one of whom betrays the other two for personal gain. Fans of Woo's later work (and fans of swordplay movies) will find this film a rewarding experience.
ADDENDUM (7/23/14): I watched this again, on the Dragon Dynasty DVD edition, for the first time in many years and was newly impressed with the fight choreography. It was much more sophisticated than I gave it credit for above and I'm sorry I was mildly dismissive of the lead actors' capabilities. This film also compares quite favorably with the Shaw Bros. swordplay adventures of the 1970s, of which I've seen many more since doing the original review. I was also remiss in not singling out the great kung fu villains in this piece, particularly those played by Fung Hak On and Lee Hoi San. Their work is breathtaking. And I should also highlight the film's original music score, distinguished by a theme melody taken from its title song and deployed effectively in different variations throughout the film. This is in contrast to the standard practice of so many kung fu films from that era in using library cues and bits taken from other soundtracks. And I stand by my remark about the "cinematic gloss" that sets this film apart. Woo's confidence as a filmmaker is quite noticeable here and brings an aesthetic element to the material that wasn't common in the genre at the time.
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