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Good cast led by David Chiang in average kung fu adventure
BLOODED TREASURY FIGHT (1979) is another all-star kung fu fight fest from the same director (Pao Hsueh Li) and some of the same stars that gave us THE EIGHT ESCORTS (aka 8 PEERLESS TREASURES, also reviewed on this site). It's all about a mission by varied parties seeking a hidden imperial treasure in the fort of a bad guy with a private army who's also interested in the treasure but doesn't know where it is himself. So he waits for the treasure seekers who know its location to arrive and be captured alive so they can be tortured to reveal it. It's not always clear who everyone is or who the good guys are, but the large cast is consistently interesting, the fights frequent and furious and the production values considerably higher than those of EIGHT ESCORTS.
David Chiang leads the cast as a superior kung fu fighter who is released from death row so he can help a constable from the court break into the fort and find the treasure. Tan Tao Liang plays the constable and they are joined by several others for the mission, including Tsai Hung, Fan Mei Sheng (who inexplicably disappears midway through the film), Wang Ching and female lead Chen Bi Feng. Wang Chung plays an inside man at the fort, while the lead villain is played by Chan Wai Man, always an interesting kung fu presence. Philip Cheung (aka Chang Yi Tao), from GRANDMASTER OF SHAOLIN KUNG FU, plays one of the bad guys and has a few good fight scenes. The beautiful Gam Ching Lan (BRUCE AND SHAOLIN KUNG FU, also reviewed on this site) plays a female fighter working for the bad guys who develops a soft spot for David.
The two lead actors, David Chiang and Tan Tao Liang, are both in good form, particularly David, who plays an amusing variation on his usual cocky, overconfident, cheery self and acquits himself well in the fight scenes. Tan is the more earnest of the two and does more than his share of fight action. The two lead actresses, Gam Ching Lan and Chen Bi Feng, don't quite have the star power (or fighting skills) of the lead actresses from EIGHT ESCORTS (Hsu Feng and Lily Li), and they get treated remarkably badly here, taking much more punishment than usual for a pair of beautiful lead actresses. (In one scene, one of them gets lashed repeatedly in the face, but in her very next close-up there's not a mark on her, so I guess we shouldn't be all that concerned.) David's the only male in the cast who pours on the charm.
The final brawl in a working mill that's slowly collapsing from the pressure of all the fight activity is quite a harrowing battle, based on the sheer greed of some of the participants, and involves most of the film's principal performers. It's a well-staged fight although you have to pay extra attention to keep track of the shifting alliances and betrayals. Overall, BLOODED TREASURY FIGHT isn't one of the best kung fu films we've come across, but it's definitely worth seeing if you enjoy these performers' work.
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