A prince of the Sung Dynasty has been taken prisoner by Ching invaders and is being held in an impenetrable fortress by elite men of the Ching. A group of fighters loyal to the Sung set out... See full summary »
Ying Ke-Feng, head of Peerless Manor, is an expert swordsman whose escort business transports 200,000 taels of silver to the capital each year. This year, however, he is afflicted with an ... See full summary »
Two men, one a businessman skilled in Kung Fu, the other a kickboxer discover they are brothers, and together, both in and out of the ring, they must face a crime syndicate. One of the ... See full summary »
A Mogul king decides to take stealthy action to help overpower his greatest rivals. He chooses nine out thirteen of his loyal generals (who he treats as sons) to embark on the mission. ... See full summary »
Lei Li lost his right-arm in a sword duel with the master of a martial arts school, long ago. Now, he is able to defend himself well with just his left arm, and kung fu techniques. That he ... See full summary »
Assassin Chang and his brother Hung meet up with a soldier, Mu. Together, they form a small mountain army, but when Hung's wife arrives, emotions swell, and Mu leaves for the army. After ... See full summary »
Leaving the poverty of his life in Shantung to seek fortune in Shanghai, The Boxer is instead drawn into a world of corruption, gang warfare and evil... Where his only protection is his famed fighting technique.
After defeating The Long-Armed Devil and his armies, our nubbed hero has been living in retirement as a farmer, but circumstances causes him to come out of retirement and take on The Eight ... See full summary »
Another iconoclastic work from the action auteur Chang Cheh, and winner of Honourable Mention for Dramatic Feature at the 13th Golden Horse Awards, 7-Man Army retells the legend of seven ... See full summary »
ANONYMOUS HEROES - action comedy with Ti Lung, David Chiang
THE ANONYMOUS HEROES is a 1971 action-adventure-comedy from Hong Kong recently released on DVD as part of the new wave of restored & remastered Shaw Bros. movies. It stars David Chiang and Ti Lung, was directed by Chang Cheh, with fight direction by Tang Chia and Liu Chia Liang, and written by I Kuang, all members of the same team that made such exemplary Shaw Bros. martial arts films of 1970-73 as THE HEROIC ONES, THE NEW ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, BLOOD BROTHERS, DEADLY DUO and, from the same stars and director, DUEL OF THE IRON FIST, all also reviewed on this site.
THE ANONYMOUS HEROES lacks the brooding intensity of the other films and opts for a lighter tone and looser approach to the action. The fight scenes are more of a brawling nature than a demonstration of martial arts. The two heroes, knockabout hustlers played by David Chiang and Ti Lung, punch and kick a lot, leap through windows, and use rifle barrels, carts and handy objects as weapons. There is some bayoneting and a lot of rifle and pistol fire. The heroine, Li Ching, uses only a pistol when called upon to fight. It's all fun to watch, but never engages our emotions the way their other collaborations did.
The film is set sometime in the early 20th century during a period of civil war in China. There is one brief mention of the Japanese and a slightly more specific mention of a warlord, but the exact time period is hard to pin down, despite the 1940s cars. The plot has to do with a revolutionary (Ku Feng) from South China, whose affiliation is never specified, who recruits the two heroes to steal 3000 rifles and 200,000 rounds of ammo from a local army outpost and transport them by train to "South City," where the rebels are waiting. After lots of adventures and misadventures, the mission is accomplished, but never with any degree of plausibility. The military officers all behave like buffoons and the heroes get away with everything much too easily. The bloody finale comes as something of a surprise given the lighthearted tone of the rest of the film.
The film owes a lot more to Sam Peckinpah's western THE WILD BUNCH (1969) and Italian westerns of the period than to earlier Hong Kong martial arts films. The two heroes wear stolen army uniforms for much of the film and the scenes on the train from which they shoot at pursuing troops deliberately recall similar scenes in Peckinpah's film. There is some location shooting for the scenes involving the train, but most of the film was shot in the studio. The process shots of the heroes standing on the train top and the miniatures used to depict a train wreck are jarringly inept.
The two heroes smile a lot (too much) and carry on like swashbucklers of yore, ready to leap into full fighting mode at a moment's notice even when the odds are stacked against them. However, they seem to be in it for fun, given their lack of moral purpose or political ideology. They're not even in it for the money, since they refuse to accept pay for the job. David and Ti were always charismatic performers and they go a long way in carrying the weight of the contrived goings-on here. Li Ching, normally the demure heroine (see THE MAGIC BLADE and BOXER FROM SHANTUNG), is much spunkier than usual, playing the customs chief's daughter who helps the heroes transport the weapons and winds up joining them on their journey. Many other familiar Shaw Bros. faces are on hand also, including Wang Chung, Cheng Miu, Wong Ching Ho, Cheng Lei, Cheng Kang Yeh and kung fu villain Chen Sing.
The music score seems to be entirely ripped off from Hollywood soundtracks, with John Barry's haunting theme from THE CHASE (1966) standing out as a particularly frequent refrain.
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