|Index||2 reviews in total|
Master's last wish is to expel the Mongol invaders. Austin Wei is about
to inherit the top spot when paperwork reveals he is a Mongol. He is
off to uncle who raised him but finds uncle dead and he is blamed. Cut
to General Chen Kuan-Tai who is in charge of the south to stop the Han
rebels. The emperor is not happy with the results. Dragon Gang tries to
assassinate the general.
Two things about this movie are noteworthy. This is Austin Wei's first starring role. It was also his last. He was amazing in this movie but it was 1982 and the genre sorely needed to be reimagined. Everything that could be done in a martial arts movie had been done to death. Yet, in the next few years it all would be reinvented by the likes of Jackie Chan and the Yuen clan just to mention the top two. That's where the second noteworthy thing comes in. There is a fight scene when Austin brings the injured girl back to the Dragon Gang. This fight scene is one of the most creative scenes ever filmed in Shaw Brothers. This scene was choreographed by Yuen Cheung-Yan and Austin fights Yuen Tak.
Overall I rate this above average and consider it a landmark movie for the genre.
GANG MASTER (1982) is a fairly straightforward late period Shaw Bros.
kung fu movie with a good cast and fast pace, but a convoluted plot. It
has to do with a young clan member, Zhong Yuan, who is promoted to
chief of the Dragon Gang after his adoptive father dies, only to be
expelled when a letter arrives revealing him to be of Mongol birth, an
awkward bit of news at a time when the Dragon Gang is actively fighting
Mongol occupiers. In fact, Zhong soon learns that the Mongol general
leading the anti-rebel campaign is actually his real father. Still, he
persists in trying to get back into the good graces of the clan,
eventually helping to ferret out a traitor in their midst. The plot is
never terribly involving nor are the characters very interesting, but
the fights are good and come at a fairly regular clip.
The real revelation here is Hui Tien-sze (aka Austin Wai), the actor who plays Zhong Yuan. He happens to be the older brother of female Shaw Star Kara Hui Ying Hung (MY YOUNG AUNTIE, CLAN OF THE WHITE LOTUS) and the family resemblance is quite strong. He's quite an acrobat and does all his own stunts. He's lean and agile and could easily have carved a niche for himself in the independent kung fu films being made outside the Shaw studio at the time, mostly in Taiwan, the kind that starred cheerful young types like Lee Yi Min and Cliff Lok. I've seen many of the films listed in Hui's filmography, but this is the first leading role I've seen him in and the first time I've become aware of him. It's too bad he didn't have more of a starring career. He's got a number of recent credits, so he's still quite active in the Hong Kong film industry.
Also in GANG MASTER are four other great kung fu stars: Chen Kuan Tai (BOXER FROM SHANTUNG, BLOOD BROTHERS) as the Mongol general; Bruce Leung (BROKEN OATH, KUNG FU HUSTLE) as a loyal clan member (and the only Shaw film I've seen this underrated fighting star in); Jason Pai Piao (SHAOLIN INTRUDERS, THE LADY ASSASSIN) as another clan member; and Shaw stalwart Ku Feng as a clan elder.
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