LONG ROAD TO GALLANTRY good late-period Shaw Bros. kung fu action
LONG ROAD TO GALLANTRY (1984) is a fairly good hyperactive late kung fu film from Shaw Bros. with an energetic and engaging star whom I'd never heard of before, Ho Chia-chin, who upon research turns out to be one Kenny Ho, who was in the Jackie Chan films, PROJECT A II and POLICE STORY II, although I'd have to view both again to see what kind of parts he had. He has charm and good looks and he fights with great skill and vigor. His female co-star is Kara Hui Ying Hung in what is probably her best role outside of the films she starred in for Lau Kar Leung (MY YOUNG AUNTIE, LEGENDARY WEAPONS OF CHINA, 8-DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER, et al). She plays a strong personality with a deepening relationship with the hero that goes through various changes. And she does a lot of fighting. Rosamund Kwan (ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, SWORDSMAN II) plays the third leading role and it's the earliest film I've seen her in. She's quite good as well, and very attractive. She has a yen for the hero also, so there's an appealing sort-of-love triangle going on here that keeps things interesting between the fights.
Kenny Ho plays a young kung fu expert coming out of seclusion after years of training and is told by his sifu to use his skills to help people out. So he does--and gets into trouble for it. Kara doesn't need his help-she's trying to infiltrate the Thunder Gang by being taken prisoner, but Kenny's repeated rescues of her botch things up, making for a couple of funny scenes. It's all about a conflict over age-old kung fu manuals between the Dragon Sect and the murderous Thunder Gang. The two heroines, Kara and Rosamund, have traumatic pasts revealed in a flashback early on involving a raid by one kung fu couple on a house occupied by another and an attempt to steal the manuals and babies being separated from parents and such. (This scene struck me as quite familiar so I checked my notes on the non-Shaw JADE BOW from 1966, also reviewed on this site, and it turns out that both films are based on Ku Lung's "Log of a Wandering Swordsman.") Both girls have issues with the father figures who raised them, played by kung fu greats Jason Pai Piao and Chen Kuan Tai. One whole plot arc involves the enmity between one girl's real father and her adoptive one. A light touch throughout much of the film is upended by a sudden devastating emotional ending that I wasn't prepared for.
The girls have nice costumes. There's a lot of action, some of it shot on outdoors locations, but most of it staged in the Shaw Bros. studio. The director is Lung Yi-sheng, who was fight choreographer on THE SWORD, BUDDHA'S PALM (also reviewed on this site) and PORTRAIT IN CRYSTAL. The one other film he directed is DEMON OF THE LUTE (1983), a wild fantasy which I've also seen and enjoyed, and which also features Kara.
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