Acceptable kung fu flick starring the one and only Jimmy Wang Yu
This Taiwanese kung fu flick is one of dozens of such films that former Shaw Brothers star Jimmy Wang Yu made after being exiled to that country after his break from the Hong Kong studios. Many of the Taiwanese films suffered from lower budgets than their Shaw cousins, which meant that they looked and felt cheaper, lacking the classy backdrops and colourful cinematography that epitomised the work of Chang Cheh, for instance. However, many of these martial arts movies were entertaining and action-packed despite being churned out on the cheap, so I'm enjoying working my way through Wang Yu's filmography.
THE DOUBLE DOUBLE CROSSER is a pretty pedestrian affair, set during the early 20th century among gangster flicks like BOXER FROM SHANTUNG, which immediately distinguishes it from a lot of the star's centuries-old period fare from this decade. Inevitably, drug smuggling gangs are involved, along with a beautiful hooker and lots of mysterious characters (like a blind man who knows more about things than he lets on). The story is a murky reworking of the classic YOJIMBO plot, with Wang Yu thrown into the middle of all these bad men and cutting a swathe through them as one by one they double cross him and end up going after him. The script is pretty routine, to be honest, and it doesn't help that the UK print has awful hissy sound quality with frequent drop-outs.
As is often the case, the quality and quantity of the kung fu fights are what save this from total boredom. I enjoyed watching the violent bouts between Wang Yu and multiple opponents, especially as you can see it's Wang Yu himself doing the fighting and the stunts for a large amount of his screen time. He's backed up by some able co-stars including the lovely Judy Lee, who strikes the right balance between feminine fragility and kick-ass kung fu chick, and regular bad guy Chang Yi. Tien Feng, a popular kung fu actor, directs and does a passable job. There are a couple of decent fights here, including a bout where Wang Yu chops the fingers off one opponent, and the extended climax set on a beach amid some rotting hulks is above-par for the genre. The rest of the film flies along effortlessly and I found it quite a lot of fun, even if it's no classic.
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