One of the best martial arts movies of 1973 and it was a very good year!
I have watched over 2000 martial arts movies. This movie was on my "wanted" list simply because master Kurata Yasuaki was listed as an actor. It since moved from my "wanted" list to my "one of the best" list. I could obtain only two grey market copies. One was an Ocean Shores VHS tape converted to an AVI file. The quality was poor and the first scenes were difficult to watch. Parts were English dubbed and the full movie was dual subtitled in English and Chinese. The other copy was full screen with no subtitles or dubbing. The resolution was slightly better as it did not have the tracking lines and greenish hues associated with VHS. It did have pixilation problems so this might have originally been a VCD release. It is truly a pleasure when watching a movie previously unknown to me and I get to the point where I realize I'm watching one of the best martial arts movies I have ever seen. Kurata Yasuaki in name alone drew me to this movie. He has played a fine villain many times but this is the first time I've seen him play both evil and crazy. The master can certainly do "crazy" with the best of them. The director did an excellent job of lighting and framing to show this also. Overall, the director of photography excelled. It was a well written story too. All of the characters had real personalities. Actor Chan Wai-Lau played many roles made up to look older. For example the Unicorn character in "Fearless Hyena". At first I did not recognize him. I enjoyed Woo Gam mostly in that she could have been very annoying yet managed to remain fun and likable from start to finish. The hero, Wong Yuen-San had the most excellent skills yet he only acted in a total 25 movies. His final fight against Kurata Yasuaki was as good as it gets. The stunt men proved themselves as the best over and over. For example, in the fights with Woo Gam, there are two technicalities that must be achieved for a good fight. The actress has no martial arts skills, her character has no strength, and the fights are comical. For this to work is all up to the fight choreographer and the stunt men. They got it right every time. There were also the "middle of the road" type fights such as Hsu Feng and her opponents. The actor has some real skills but she still is far from unbeatable. The hero's fight sequences are another thing too. When he fights Hsu Feng he must clearly be better yet with respect to her real abilities. To summarize, the fights reminded me of an old candy bar "Good and Plenty". I am rating this as a solid 8 out of 10 and also as one of the five best martial arts movies of 1973.
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