|Index||4 reviews in total|
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.
When young Tieh Chiao San is sent by his dying father to live with a
former kung fu colleague in the town, he accidentally gets into trouble
when missing with a gang running a snake-oil scam and then getting into
a fight with an old drunkard. When Tieh reaches his destination he
finds that the snake-oil gang is run by none other than his father's
friend. He joins the gang but cannot bring himself to do the bad deeds
demanded of him; this continues to the point where he is beaten and
left for dead. Luckily he is rescued by the pretty Tsai Chiao and
hidden out with her drunk uncle and leprosy suffering aunt as well as a
Shaolin temple. Tieh uses his time to learn some new kung fu styles,
which is just as well as it is not long till the gang come after him
looking to finish the job.
I have been enjoying using the festive season to catch up on a lot of films I have been wanting to see, in particular a lot of old Shaw Brothers kung fu movies that I was looking forward to seeing. Generally the standard has been pretty high much higher than you would expect if your experience of the genre is limited to the "comedy" clips of badly dubbed action delivered out of context. So the dip had to come at some point and for me it hit with Tigress of Shaolin. I was attracted by the title because generally I have noted that the Shaw productions have had strong female roles (and leads at times) and I presumed this would be the case here with the "tigress" of the title but not so. Putting aside my preconceptions I waited to see what the film did and found a comedy where every line is excessively delivered, much humor is crude and basic and the whole thing is given a silly or wacky tone which really needs you to be totally in the mood for it. For me it didn't work as it was too deliberately wacky and not actually funny enough to support how forced it felt.
This wasn't helped by my waning interest in the film as so much of it just seemed cobbled together and made up as it went along. Maybe it was just my aging copy, but the film stock looked bad, the colors, costumes and sets were all significantly below the usual standard and even the soundtrack was poor. The cast follow direction to match the material, which is a shame because the direction is not good. Everyone pulls faces and hams it up. There are some nice turns in here but generally the material fails them. The martial arts action is also affected by the comedy hamming, although there are some good sequences if you ignore everything else.
All told, Tigress of Shaolin is a poor film. It is overly wacky and hammy in ways it cannot justify with the material. The performances are poor and, although some of the action is good, generally it feels like a hotchpotch of half-baked ideas and no strong hand on the tiller to bring it home.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Misleadingly titled, but enjoyable kung fu comedy most notable for the
only screen appearance of Liu Jui Yi. Elder sister of Liu Chi Liang,
their father Liu Zhan was himself a martial disciple of Lam Sai-wing.
Historically, Lam Sai-wing's sifu was none other than the legendary
Huang Fei Hong.
So, in essence you have in this family a group of martial descendants portraying the same arts and moral philosophy on film that their forebears became historically famous for embodying themselves in regards to the real historical events of previous decades. A set of circumstances completely unprecedented in global cinema, and never repeated.
This instance, however, is a minor film without Liu Chia Liang as director or choreographer. Instead, you do get Liu Jui Yi putting son Liu Chia Yung through his paces alongside Liu clan protégé Kara Hui Ying Hung. Despite the title, the female leads are not the major focus of the film, however.
Instead, we get choreographer Chan Dik Hak in granny glasses and a hippie headband wielding an iron comb alongside a group of crooked Tibetan doctors. They take in a naive Liu Chia Yung, but find him out when he fails to aid their scheme of creating their own patients by beating up crowds of strangers in the market and then handing out discount healthcare coupons.
Yung is saved by Kara Hui Ying Hung, who lives with choreographer Huang Ha, (doing his best Yuen Siu Tien impression) and the aforementioned Liu Jui Yi. Yung's mother is an exponent of the Leper's Fist, a style which not surprisingly resembles the leopard fist style of Hung Gar.
*******************WARNING: SPOILER AHEAD*****************************
So, following the usual market and tea house bouts, we get a big weapons fight with Chan Dik Hak's iron comb, Yung wielding twin dao and staves, Tibetans with fans and various less exotic weapons. Finally, Yung by accident incorporates jiang shi (hopping vampire) movements into the Leper style, which proves to be the key to victory.
I'd possibly fault director Law Chi for not letting the ladies shine, and the film suffers as a result. Hui Ying Hung would soon go on to spectacular comedic turns in Liu Chia Liang's My Young Auntie and Lady Is The Boss. It's just a shame that such comedic and martial timing is not given more free rein here.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought the other reviewers on this site were a little unfair about
THE TIGRESS OF SHAOLIN, a 1979 action comedy from the Shaw Brothers
stable. It's certainly one of their lesser works, but it retains the
gorgeous set design and colourful costumes of the rest of their output,
and it features assured fight choreography, a pleasing lightness of
touch, and plenty of action and incident.
I enjoyed it thoroughly. A word first, though; the title is something of a misnomer, as the female characters in this film only appear in support (a shame given that Kara Hui is excellent and really lights up the screen whenever she fights). The main character is played by the pleasingly goofy Liu Chia Yung, who plays the usual young buffoonish student type who falls in with a dodgy employer and soon learns the error of his ways when he's beaten up and left for dead in a lake. Thankfully he's taken in by a drunk beggar and the stage is set for revenge.
THE TIGRESS OF SHAOLIN is a lively affair with much to recommend it. The plot is interesting and incorporates plenty of ingredients such as the popular drunken beggar figure, the hot-headed protagonist, the female freedom fighter, and the cruel and merciless villain and his army of supporters. There's a spooky sheen to the climax, set in a graveyard and featuring some fighting styles inspired by the hopping undead! One of the supporting character is a leper which allows for the unusual sight of the hero learning the 11-step 'leper style' of fighting. All of this makes for an impressively intense climax, a fitting end to an above average movie.
|Plot summary||Ratings||External reviews|
|Plot keywords||Main details||Your user reviews|
|Your vote history|