It's alleged that many kung fu films were written as they went along. Certainly many independent HK and Taiwanese productions have a thrown together feel to them so it's certainly possible but that would force the producers to shoot the film mostly in sequence. Shaw productions generally have the sense that there is some sort of script before they start filming. Here we have a Shaw oddity directed by an obscure one time director at Shaw who seems to have worked in the very same cheap independent productions mentioned above. Well here we have it, a high energy but story wise shapeless film that really does seem like it's from another studio.
A young man, Tieh, is sent by his dying father to live with a kung fu colleague in town. Entering the town, Tieh disrupts a snake-oil medicine scam and runs into a rascally drunk who fights him. Finally finding his father's friend, Tieh makes the discovery that the guy is running the snake-oil medical scam and a fraudulent hospital with his Tibetian (!) gang. Tieh becomes an underling in the gang but is unable to do any of the bad deeds his bosses demand. Accidentally overhearing a drug smuggling scheme, Tieh is beaten, thrown into a lake and left for dead. Rescued by the rascally drunk's god daughter (played by Kara Hui) he gets a job with a grocer and befriends a waiter at a bad restaurant but the Tibetian gang is on his tail again. Tieh ends up sheltered by a Shaolin temple, learns a little kung fu there and more from the drunk's wife, a master of the famed Leper's Fist!
Sound a little all over the place? Well, it is, but fortunately the film is fast paced with lots of fight scenes and a decent sense of humor. The advertising makes it seem that Kara Hui, who's great here, plays the title "Tigress" but she's really a supporting character. The "Tigress", from the best I can tell, is the crazy wife who is afflicted with boils and skin growths. The actress who plays her is quite funny. The character cleans dishes at the Shaolin temple so I assume that's where the title comes from. The fights are sometimes sped up and generally don't make fighting sense unlike other Shaw films. Lots of odd poses and movements. One of the villains wears sunglasses and has what seems to be an American Indian outfit on with a braided pony tail wig. At one point Tieh starts dancing like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.
Overall the film is quite dumb but the energy the performers put into it makes it all very enjoyable.
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