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"Ten Tigers from Kwangtung," released in 1980 and directed by kung-fu movie legend Chang Cheh, is a movie that I partially caught during a martial arts movie marathon on The El Rey Network over the 2015 Thanksgiving holiday weekend; the event itself was meant to celebrate what would have been the 75th birthday of legendary martial arts master Bruce Lee, who died in 1973. (I also learned that dialogue from this movie was partially sampled in the song "Bring Da Ruckus" by the hip-hop super-group, the Wu-Tang Clan.)
What "Ten Tigers from Kwangtung" suffers from the most are simply too many characters; the film was meant to be a celebration of sorts that brought together the top martial arts movie talents of the Shaw Brothers studio at the time. In theory, it's a good idea that should work; the only problem with that, however, is the fact that the film is only 90 minutes long, which is way too short for what I'm sure was the type of epic kung-fu grandeur that Chang Cheh was going for. If it had been a half-hour longer, perhaps, the film and story wouldn't seem so crammed and you can better keep track of the characters.
The plot details two stories, one set in the present, the other regarding events of the past.
The first story, the one set in the present and is what sets the film in motion, concerns two Ching Dynasty mercenaries who are hunting down the Ten Tigers and their disciples, the group of famous martial arts masters who years earlier had hid and protected a notorious anti-Ching revolutionary. The two Ching mercenaries are now seeking revenge for the Ten Tigers having killed one of their own years before.
Of course, you don't go to a film like "Ten Tigers from Kwangtung" for a thought-provoking plot or deep characterizations. You go to a film like this for the fights, and this movie does serve up many, many fights. Because the film features an all-star cast of Shaw Brothers studio regulars, it can be extremely difficult to keep track of everybody (I know I certainly did).
That's really the only thing that hampers an otherwise fun but typical kung-fu picture.
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