REVENGER - Average kung fu tale with Ti Lung and other good players
In the late 1970s, one-time Shaw Bros. director Pao Hsueh Li made a number of independent kung fu films which had the disadvantage of low budgets but the advantage of lots of former Shaw Bros. stars in the casts. While it was great to see these stars in action together, this casting practice forced the screenwriters (including Shaw Bros. house scribe Ni Kuang) to jam the story lines with way too many characters, forcing some of the actors into smaller parts than they should have had. These films included EIGHT ESCORTS (aka 8 PEERLESS TREASURES), BLOODED TREASURY FIGHT, both also reviewed on this site, and REVENGER.
REVENGER benefits from an exemplary star performance by Ti Lung in a dual role--Chao Tu, a wandering kung fu champion of justice, and, later in the film, Chao Shu, his own grown son. The plot is often fairly compelling, dealing at first with Chao Tu's efforts on behalf of the oppressed and his ambush by a provincial leader (Wang Ching) and his crew of fighters, and later with the son's mission to get his father's bones back and then get revenge for his father's murder. However, the second half goes off on a number of confusing plot tangents that are never fully developed, including the fates of a brother and sister who were separated as babies and wind up on opposite sides in the conflict. The sister, played by celebrated femme fighting star Hsu Feng (A TOUCH OF ZEN), doesn't even enter the film until the 68-minute mark.
The World Video English dub seen for this review clocked in at 101 min., which is longer than normal for a late '70s kung fu film but still plays as if whole scenes or parts of scenes were cut, thanks to either a cut print or awkward editing. Still, the film does have a strong cast with many dependable kung fu players including, in addition to the three already mentioned, Taiwanese kicking star Tan Tao Liang, as Hsu Feng's brother; female star Shih Szu as Ti Lung's lover and mother of his son; Ling Yun as a neutral fighter who is forced to choose sides at a key moment; and the beautiful Tiu Man Ming as Wang Ching's brassy daughter. There are lots of fight scenes involving hand-to-hand kung fu and various exotic weapons. Ti Lung is particularly good in the early kung fu scenes as a wandering do-gooder who fights off various bad guys. The fights are staged both outdoors and in fairly well-appointed studio sets. The final brawl involves most of the surviving characters in a melée in Wang Ching's palace and includes as participants the two comic drunken "uncles" who helped raise the young Chao Shu.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?