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A Chinese man (Liu) marries a Japanese woman through an arranged marriage and manages to insult all of her Japanese martial arts family by issuing a challenge to her that is misinterpreted ... See full summary »
A couple unite - she is fluent in the crane style of kung fu, he in tiger style. They have a son, but the boy's father is killed by the evil eunuch Bai Mei. Disguised as a girl, his mom ... See full summary »
A young martial artist seeks revenge on the Ninja who kills his martial arts brothers and teacher. He finds help in the form of a new teacher (who knows Ninjitsu) and new brothers. Together... See full summary »
The workers of a dye factory have their pay cut by 20% when the factory owner brings in some Manchu thugs to try and increase production. Desperate to reclaim their full wages, the workers ... See full summary »
Director Chang Cheh reunites the Five Venoms in his second biggest cult hit in the West. It's Lo Meng's most memorable performances whose showdown with fellow Venom Kuo Chue is artistically violent while being graphically artsy.
Cheng Tai-Nan (Kara Hui) is an honest and faithful servant of a dying patriarch who wants nothing more than to protect his vast wealth from his selfish, conniving nephew, Yung-Sheng. ... See full summary »
Philip Kwok (Lizard venom) plays a repentant killer who vows to destroy the masked gang of which he was a member. A young fighter and his martial arts brothers (incl Chiang Sheng, venom ... See full summary »
This is a brilliantly constructed film. I suppose those who remark it having a 'poor plot' long for something more simple, more direct, more traditionally 'Shaw Bros.' To be sure, the plot is intended to provide support for the interlaced themes, but it is complex and meaty on its own terms.
However the themes are indeed the heart of the film. The comic scene of the fake kung fu battle is clearly intended as a parody of the traditional swordplay film, down to the hand-squeezed blood-squib. The use of magic kung fu is, less clearly because more subtly, intended to debunk the myth of such magic, reducing it to a kind of martial-arts parlor trick - magnificently staged, but of course ineffective against anything other than itself. The real martial arts are at last presented with considerable credibility in the final third of the film, but is intended to remind us that, as powerful as it could be, the martial arts cannot compete with modern weaponry. Along the way, we also deal with problems of family loyalty, national loyalty (vs. phony 'patriotism'), and the nature of the spirituality necessary to master the martial arts, which requires an open mind and compassion rather than blind dedication.
What director Liu is reaching for is nothing less than a complete debunking of all the nonsense that had wrapped itself around the study of the martial arts in the 19th century and which was resurrected in the wake of the kung fu film phenomenon of the 1970s. Liu is asking us to respect, even admire, the martial arts, perhaps to learn them - but on their own terms, without all the myths that obscure their real essence.
This makes for a highly sophisticated script, which Liu carefully keeps popularized not only through the use of humor but, more importantly, by tight compression of story and editing. Blink and you will surely miss an important event.
As for the staging and camera-work some have remarked - technically, this film is pure classic Shaw Bros.
And as for the martial arts in the final battle - absolutely magnificent.
Unique in its genre and a real treat.
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