SEVEN COMMANDMENTS OF KUNG FU - mildly entertaining kung fu tale
This low-budget fight fest is distinguished by good performances by its two leads, Lee Yi Min and Chang Yi, both in parts they could do quite easily in their sleep but, fortunately for us, are wide awake here. Lee is an eager beaver kung fu student who works in a medicine shop by day and lives with an uncle who teaches him a rigorous form of kung fu involving lots of gymnastic rings. Chang Yi is a stern, hard-hearted, wandering kung fu master who gets wounded in a fight with an outlaw gang whose leader is played by reliable kung fu heavy Lung Fei. Lee comes to Chang's aid, making him a target of the gang, too, so Chang takes him along on his journey and teaches him the seven rules of kung fu as they fight and kill assorted pursuing bad guys. It's a set of pretty obvious "rules," such as "Be on your guard against ambush," "Always be ready for deception," and "Plan ahead before you move," concepts no doubt already familiar to Lee from all his other kung fu movies.
Eventually, Lee falls out with Chang after learning the dark truth about him. He takes his late father's kung fu manual and teaches himself "Seven Stars" kung to counteract Chang's Mantis style. In one clever scene he even builds man-size praying mantis models out of straw and bamboo to practice with in preparation for the final showdown.
The two actors are always fun to watch, although the production values here are not as good as we've seen in their other films (e.g. Lee's NINJA CHECKMATE and 7 GRANDMASTERS and Chang's EAGLE'S CLAW and CHALLENGE OF DEATH). For one thing, the cameraman is obsessed with the zoom lens, which means there are way too many huge closeups and we miss a lot of the fight scenes' widescreen imagery on the full-frame low-cost tapes/DVDS that are currently the only way to see this film in the U.S.
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