I'm what you'd call a devout Shaw Brothers fanatic. With that bias in mind, Killer Constable (Lightning Kung Fu) is an interesting diversion from your standard Shaw fare being made at the time. As others have stated before me, the "Kung Fu" in the US video re-title is a bit misleading as there is little to no actual kung fu in the film. Instead we're treated to a lot of swordplay. Not the kind of swordplay you'd expect to see in one of Chu Yuan's jiang hu epics, but a more gritty, rough-and-tumble style of fighting that almost seems out of place in a Shaw Brothers film (much of the action courtesy of a Japanese choreographer whose name escapes me). Shaw veteran Chen Kuan Tai (Boxer From Shantung, Crippled Avengers) plays the constable of the title, Ling Tien Ying, who is ordered to hunt down the men responsible for robbing the imperial treasury of 2 million taels of gold. To make matters interesting, he's given only 10 days to do it. Tien Ying is pretty damn ruthless. An anti-hero if there ever was one, but it's a testament to both Chen Kuan Tai as an actor and Kuei Chih Hung's skill a director that we still care what happens to this man and sympathize with him even after he's done some very questionable things. Speaking of director Kuei Chi Hung, he does a great job of instilling a strong sense of atmosphere and maintaining it throughout the picture. Also, anyone familiar with John Woo's The Killer will immediately recognize a couple of scenes that were clearly used/lifted for Woo's film nearly 10 years later. In fact it's so obvious that I'm surprised I've never read anyone commenting on it before. Perhaps it's due to this films lack of availability? Whatever the case, I'd be interested to hear Woo's take on it. Not to give too much away, but the scenes in question involve a blind girl and two antagonists at each other's throat in the same room, ready to kill one another. Both men play along in lying to the blind girl about the one man's identity and what his intentions really are. Sound familiar at all?
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