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The Yang family was the loyal strong-arm of the Imperial army. But a jealous General betrays the Eilte Spearman and their father to the opposing Mongol army. After an ambush of a battle, only two of the seven sons survive. One remains hidden by the family while the other lives on the run. The traitorous general must find them and silence them before either of them can testify to the Emperor of his treachery. Written by
This film is loosely based on actual historical figures of China; the Yang family, who defended the Northern borders of the Song Dynasty for generations. The movie's story was initially meant to follow the many tales that centered around one historical figure in particular, Yang Yanzhao. (The 6th son of Yang Ye.) According to history, Yang Ye and his 7 sons were betrayed by General Pan Mei and that he committed suicide in order to provide an escape for his remaining living sons. (The 5th, the 6th and the 7th) The film differs from the legend, in that number 7 dies and number 6 goes mad. The film accurately depicts the fate of the 5th son, as he does desert the army and become a monk on Wu Tai Mountain. In the legend, the 6th son was depicted as the hero and fought in the last stand against Pan Mei and the Liao troops. Such was to be depicted in the film, but a re-write was necessitated with the untimely death of actor Feng Shu, who portrayed the 6th son. Legend tells that the 6th son himself went to the Wu Tai temple to convince his older brother to join the fight, only to be refused as the 5th son would not break his vows to Buddha. Only after a messenger arrived with news of his younger sister's capture, did the 5th son choose to join his brother in the fight. The script was altered so that the only visit the 5th son received, was from a messenger that arrived with news of his sister. This motivates the 5th Yang to return to the fight, giving him the hero spotlight that was meant for 6th brother, Yang Yanzhao. In legend, after Pan Mei's defeat, Yang Yanzhao went on to become a warrior of as fierce renown as his father. Eventually promoted to the rank of General, he continued fighting for the Dynasty until his death at age 57. See more »
In the Jinsha battle scene, just before the Yang patriarch faces the Tartars' army of archers, the golden blade of his staff is (inadvertently) hacked off by one of the Tartar soldiers. In the next shot of Yang, the blade is still attached to his staff. See more »
Since getting into the genre a few years ago I have seen many kung fu films of this era, and I have to say this is one of my favourites. I was lucky enough to find a wide screen, undubbed version.
This is a classic Shaw Bros. style film by famed director Lau Kar-Leung and starring Gordon Liu ("6th Brother"), whom Tarantino paid homage to by giving two roles in Kill Bill I & II.
The father of the Yang family and his seven sons go to battle to fight the Mongols who are threatening the Sung Dynasty. They are betrayed by a rival family and only two brothers, 6th (Liu) and 5th, survive. "6th" takes refuge at a General-turned-hunter's rural hideout (the General is a cameo by director Kar-Leung), before fleeing to a monastery where his brash personality conflicts with the monks there. At the monastery, he must improve his skills before seeking vengeance on those responsible for his family's betrayal.
The first fight scene (the battle) is a little cheesy with an obvious screened backdrop, a setting that doesn't really fit with the rest of the film. If the film was more ambitious this could have been a more impressive outdoor battle. But this is the film's only real drawback. The fights start out great and only get better. Highlights include 8th Sister's really breathtaking swordplay, and 6th Brother's duel with the Abbott which is both acrobatic and beautiful. This fight ends poetically, as during the fight both men had enscribed a yin-yang symbol on the floor of the monastery, symbolic of these two men's conflicting personalities: peaceful monk and warrior General.
The final scene is an all-out bloody melee which is really impressive, especially when 6th Brother takes on the horde with 8th Sister strapped to his back. Some of it is overacted (extreme reactions from bad guys as teeth are knocked out!) but used as a source of campy amusement, it only adds to the whole spectacle.
The plot is strong and very Shakespearean in scope (family loyal to the ruler is betrayed, family members must communicate in secret to avoid discovery while revenge is planned). The idea of the poles which use a twisty grappling-end to counter the Yang family's poles is unique. I love the fact that (like in many other films of the genre), the women's kung fu skills are as strong as the men's. This 20 years before the whole "girl power" thing in Western movies, music & TV.
If you're a fan of kung fu, see this film if you get a chance!
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