Reviews written by registered user
jag_hatar_grodor

10 reviews in total 
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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Contender for worst kung fu movie of all time!, 1 March 2011
1/10

I feel ripped off for spending my money on this piece of crap. I've seen hundreds of kung fu movies over a span of ten years and this is easily one of the movies I feel most disgusted about. There isn't a single redeeming factor about this abomination, except for the nice cover of the Vengeance Video release. However, I'm not sure if the guy on the cover is actually in the movie, but I guess that's no surprise.

This is a kung fu comedy of the worst kind. The jokes would make a three year-old child feel embarrassed and I had to fast forward past this travesty of a "story" to avoid throwing up. To my surprise, I found myself forwarding past most of the fights as well, since they are either based on the "comedic" style of fighting (one guy being pathetic and falling on his behind) or when there's actually some sign of talent involved (one or two fights), it's ruined by the ridiculous undercranking and horrible frame-clipping that makes the fights totally devoid of any rhythm or professionalism. Besides, some of the fights of this particular release was actually cut or skipped, I'm betting on the latter, maybe the producers at least had the sense of decency left after watching the entire movie to spare us the excruciating experience of having to sit through more of this movie than necessary.

The end fight is a joke. I kid you not, this is the worst end fight of any kung fu movie. I have no words left to describe how disappointed I am, just a final warning if you ever though of buying Mantis Under Falcon Claws: stay as far away from this garbage as possible!

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Highly entertaining, yet overrated independent Kung Fu classic., 19 October 2010
6/10

I've red many favourable reviews for Shaolin vs. Lama here and on different Kung Fu-movie forums and I have been recommended to see it when asking for good independent flicks that can compete with the Shaw Brothers and Golven Harvest productions of that era. Unfortunately, I'm vastly disappointed, but not to the point where I wouldn't watch it several times again, simply because it's so entertaining.

The English dub is horribly funny, and provides us with some nonsensical dialogue and Australian-sounding voice actors, which adds tons to it's charm. If you like this type of low-budget style dubbed Kung Fu movies, you'll be sure to get lots of laughs out of this one as well. The outrageous characters, especially the Shaolin and Lama monks with the longest white eyebrows you'll ever see and crazy hairstyles don't make the movie any less worth watching, trust me.

The problem I have is the fighting, which I was told would be amazing. I can easily say, it's not. It's very rough, stiff and repetitive, especially if you compare to contemporary Kung Fu movies from Lau Gar-Leung and The Venom Mob. However, there's a lot of talent involved, and many moves and blows are excellently executed. The action is plenty and has a certain cartoonish feeling about it, which together with the obsessive overuse of undercranking to speed up the already wacky choreography, makes the Kung Fu very watchable and entertaining. Bare in mind though that it's not good fighting per se. If you want to see really good fighting in an independent Kung Fu movie, look for classics like: 7 STEPS OF KUNG FU, HELL'Z WINDSTAFF, 7 GRANDMASTERS, DAGGERS 8, and SNAKE DEADLY ACT. I sincerely recommend Shaolin vs. Lama, mostly since in all it's cheesy glory, it's a good way to spend an hour and a half any given day.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Terrible misuse of a soon-to-be legend, 13 October 2010
3/10

I just re-watched this movie after seeing it for the first time about 8 years ago, and right thereafter watched Jackie's masterpiece Police Story 2, and my god was the difference painful to bear! The story (although secondary to the action naturally) doesn't really add much to the viewing experience. It doesn't seem to fit well with the tone of the rest of the movie, and the lack of excitement, interesting characters, or pretty much anything that makes many Jackie Chan movies the joy they are, gives the movie a bland and dull impression. In a way, it resembles a boring version of Enter the Dragon, which is probably the movie Clouse was trying to revisit for a possible success in the US. It's almost painful to watch most of the action scenes, when you think about the movies Jackie had starred in just a few years earlier, like "Snake in the Eagles Shadow", "Drunken Master" or even "Fearless Hyena" or "Snake and Crane Arts of Shaolin". Jackie steals the show completely and the only thing I can imagine Jackie thinking while shooting the majority of the action is: "Really, this is what I have to work with.. let's just get it over with and fly back to Hong Kong tomorrow.." The entire tournament, which is supposed to be the highlight of the movie, is actually the part with the worst fights in any Jackie Chan movie. They basically consist of wrestlers twice the size of Jackie punching with the speed of a snail and trying to hug opponents to death, while Jackie performs some fast, acrobatic moves to finish them off. Some of the moves from Jackie are really impressive though and this is probably Jackie at the hight of his physical capacity, too bad it's squandered the way it is here. Most of the time, Jackie's character is probably intended to resemble a Bruce Lee-like figure with powerful, execution-style moves (complete with the EXACT punching sound effects from Enter the Dragon) and it doesn't really fit him well. The movie actually seems hand-made for coming Belgian Ballet-super star Jean-Claude Van Damme, and I can't believe I'm about to write this, but he probably would have made the movie the cheese-fest it should have been and not the sleeping-pill that it is now.

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Highly compelling sword-play drama, 19 August 2010
10/10

Before you watch this movie, you have to be aware of that it isn't your regular Chang Cheh/Venom mob-flick per se. Most of the venom posse isn't in this movie at all or only in it for cameo appearances and the mode of the movie is more in tune with Wu-xia movies of the late 60's than the usual male-bonding/bloodshed mayhem that came out of the Chang Cheh factory at the time. The action isn't really the main attraction here, and the movie wouldn't have suffered THAT much had they removed the Kung Fu altogether as would have been the case with almost any other Hong Kong movie of the time. Also, you have to be at least somewhat accustomed to the unrealistic nature of the Chinese Wu-xia movies. That is, don't be taken back by extremely rushed plot development and just plain bizarre events and dialogue. In a sense, this movie genre is one of supernatural story telling and has a very unique atmosphere about it. Taking that into consideration, you are in for a real treat here. In many ways Ode to gallantry resembles "The sword stained with royal blood", another Wu-xia(ish) venom movie, although I'd say the former has a much better general story and characters, whereas the latter is superior in terms of pure action. All in all, I'd say they are equally good but for different reasons.

The story in OTG is complex and takes many turns, and need not be reiterated for the sake of a short review, but it consists mainly of a predicament of mistaken identity and is quite cleverly played out. Philip Kwok plays his role very well and he is a delight to watch as he comes out as not over-the-top but still amusing and charming. The only other main venom to play a big role is Sun Chien who is one of the main figures of a martial arts group Kwok get's involved with by accident. Chiang Sheng makes a short but memorable role in the last 10 minutes of the film, during the end fight, which is (as other reviewers have pointed out) the Kung Fu-feast we are used to when we hear about a venom-movie.

I sincerely recommend this movie, I just bought it off the internet and intend to watch it many times myself. You'll have both laughs and moments of intensity and sadness. A rare experience from start to finish.

3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Nothing but a Masterpiece!, 9 August 2010
10/10

After watching this movie for the first time yesterday, I was debating with myself as to how to rate it. Then I slowly started to realize that it is without a doubt one of the best martial arts movies I've ever seen! Even though I was dead tired, I couldn't keep my eyes off the fight scenes for even a second, and that goes for pretty much all the fights, not just the last one.

The story is actually a bit refreshing, and at least tries to be a little bit more original than usual, and I must say it kept me hooked for most parts throughout, and that's not bad for a Kung Fu-movie. However, it suffers from the same flaws as all venom movies; so many characters who look and act alike are thrown in our faces and they die like flies. There's no way you can keep track of who's who and who does what, just as usual. Chiang Sheng sums it up pretty perfectly when he dines with Lu Feng in the beginning: "I must introduce you to my men, but still with so many I can't introduce them all". That's exactly how I feel too. Lo Meng and Su Chien are absent from this movie, but it's actually forgettable since the "substitutes" make a really good job and the extras are just as good as ever. Lo Meng and Su Chien are, as we all know, usually killed of halfway in most movies anyway, so Masked Avengers doesn't really suffer from it.

The fighting is outstanding, and simply flawlessly choreographed. The venom mob really got their fighting choreography together in the early 80's and the result of their hard work can be seen here. The end fight is epic with tons of lethal traps, outrageous deaths and slick editing.

A movie that you can watch a 100 times and not get tired of. Watch it immediately!

Solid and brutal venom-entry!, 7 August 2010
7/10

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a fine example of the fast-paced, extravagant martial arts choreography that is the trademark of the venom mob. There is a enough fight scenes and brutal deaths throughout the entire movie to keep even the most demanding Chang Cheh-fan satisfied. The story is, as expected, just a mess of righteous, pure-blooded shaolin ming rebels spewing hatred upon the evil Manchurian Qing-government joined by the treacherous Wu Tang-clan. Some noble qing/wu tang-members (who were of course more or less forced to join this heinous bunch) realize that the ming-dynasty is the only true dictatorship for the Han-race and switch sides in secret. Who's who and what is really accomplished, I'm not sure of even after repeated viewing. What I am sure of though, is that the action is plenty and of very high standard. It's not the best venom movie out there, but it's pretty close. The last fight is reasonably long and the final death scene (ok everyone dies in this movie, I'm not kidding) is awesome. Highly recommended and well worth a place in your Kung Fu-movie collection if you stumble upon it.

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A disappointment, 1 August 2010
4/10

I had high hopes for this film, especially after watching the vastly superior sequel: Secret Rivals II and had read a lot of good reviews here and elsewhere. Unfortunately, although I think many people disagree with me about this, it was a huge let-down and had little appeal what-so-ever, except for some unintentional hilarious bad English dubbing. The story, although generally non-essential to kung fu-movies of the era, was excruciating at times, with prolonged scenes about some side-plot involving a mutual love interest of our heroes, and the rest isn't much better. This wouldn't have mattered at all if we were treated with a lot of fighting in between the tedious story telling, but WE'RE NOT! I'm a huge fan of Jon Liu and especially Hwang Jang Lee, but they are never allowed to show off their skills properly since they hardly get to fight.

The choreography is really sloppy in the first half of the movie, but doesn't improve nearly as much as I had hoped even for the end fight, which is over really fast. I don't know what other reviewers saw in this movie.. naturally John Liu and Hwang Jang Lee are excellent fighters and their skill somehow manages to bear to movie to some extent, but I was honestly never entertained by any part of it.

If you, like me, are into Chinese classic Kung Fu flicks of the 70's and 80s, you are likely to either have seen this or be about to do so, but I can't recommend it, in spite of it's good reputation. See Secret Rivals II instead, it's a masterpiece, this one isn't.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Pure entertainment under the right circumstances, 22 July 2010
9/10

I watched the dubbed English version (I usually prefer the original cantonese or mandarin soundtrack) but some Kung Fu-movies are obviously meant to be enjoyed like this. The dialogue is outright hilarious, unprecedented by any Kung Fu-flick I've ever seen so far (probably about the hundreds). The story is impossible to keep track of, I honestly still, after watching the whole movie, don't know who I was supposed to root for or who was bad and who was good. But in this movie, it just adds to the chaotic watching experience it is from start to finish. As usual with Chang Che's venom movies, there are so many characters introduced to us, and many of them look deceptively identical to one another that knowing who's who unless you are a die hard fan is pretty much impossible. That being said, the movie is practically devoid of fighting scenes, which came as a surprise to me. I read that a large proportion of the movie had to be cut out during the restoration, something that might explain the lack of action, but I honestly didn't mind, since the end fight (roughly 10 minutes) is amazing, and probably one of the absolute best fights in any venom movie. Just fast forward to that one if you're only in it for the fighting and marvel. The story? Eh.. well.. Chinese king (sic!) has many men, prince wants.. a throne..? Someone built a house of traps because someone died.. something is stored in there.. and the prince recruits men.. somehow, they fight! The end. Watch it for the laughs and the superb last fighting scene.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
So difficult to judge.., 6 January 2006
5/10

In my opinion, whether Young Master is good or not is very difficult to tell. It cannot be compared to Drunken Master, which I'd say is Jackie's finest hour but how well does it stand off then? The negative sides of the film are:

1. The plot - We all know that the plot is far from essential in Kung Fu-movies, but there is something about this movie that really bothers me.. I can't really tell what, but the production was haltered several times and it really shows in the finished print. There is just a dull feeling throughout the movie that has nothing to do with the comedy or anything.. I wonder if anyone else feels the same way. Besides, letting Jackie be a top-notch fighter in the beginning just to become the underdog fighter who basically wins by pure luck or by using the surrounding is not very clever.. of course, this has to do with Jackie wanting to change the tone of the action halfway through the production..

2. - The misuse of the actors - Honestly, they have Wei Pei and especially my all-time favorite Yun Biu in the movie.. and what do they do? They really waste their talent.. Wei Pei doesn't get a chance to shine, and to be honest, this is probably Yun Biu's worst appearance in a movie ever. Sure he handles the bench really well.. and no, he doesn't have to do the tumbling and flipping all the time to be impressive.. but the fight with Jackie leaves me so unsatisfied

3. The camera work - it really lame.. no one can say anything else.. I sometimes believe that I could have done a better job myself..

4. The end fight - I've read other peoples' comments about this movie.. and everyone seems to appreciate the end battle with Ing-Sik Whang. I beg to differ.. It's not good.. sure Ing-Sik shows some good kicking.. but Jackie gets to show nothing.. nothing.. not even in the end, when the fight basically looks like a common boxing match.. really.. did Jackie write this was his 9th favorite fight??

And the good parts:

1. The lion dancing - really good scene.. very beautifully performed

2. Some of the humour - yes, sometimes it really works.. and it's intentional :)

3. Yun Biu - He is just too cool to ignore

4. Yun Biu making a move with the bench - This is one of my favorite "kata" ever performed.. it's right after Jackie also grabs a bench at Yun Biu's home.

6. The fan fight - reason alone to watch this movie.. it's probably my favorite Jackie Chan fight ever.. be sure to watch the uncut version though! This is one of the few times that the bad camera work actually boosts the fight scene.. I just love the rhythmic dancing and the beautifully performed movements with the fan.. and the way it ends.. there is just a certain touch to it that is hard to describe.. but I guess this is the kind of fight you either love or hate..

So in all.. the movie itself is pretty bad.. but some scenes really raise the entire film and make it a superb way of spending 106 minutes.. (the uncut version where the final fight is even looonger)

13 out of 14 people found the following review useful:
I was startled!, 30 October 2005
10/10

Forget all about what some other reviewers say about this being a "decent" or above average Kung Fu film. The picture is simply awesome.. Naturally, the plot has it's flaws.. but it's essentially better than most Kung Fu movies of the time and at times really interesting and somehow riveting. The best thing about the movie is of course the fights.. and I tell you, they are simply top-notch! Sing Chen and Hwang Jang Lee really shine as the best fighters of the nation and Jang Lee proves again why he is the best kicker the world has ever seen. The choreography is absolutely insane, but I guess that's what you'll have to expect when Yuen Biao is credited as the action director (he has a small role as one of Jang Lee's grandsons as well, and honestly.. who do you think was doubling for all the other cast when needed??) I didn't expect that much from this movie.. but it's a fact.. Kung Fu films don't get any better than this.