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.
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