Jue sha ling (1977) Poster

(1977)

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8/10
"Unknown" Kung Fu epic from director Sun Chung
ChungMo27 January 2006
Sun Chung is one of the lesser known of the Shaw stable of action directors. Many of his films are unknown outside of the local Chinatowns in the US. The only one that seems to have been dubbed was the excellent "Avenging Eagle". Fortunately as the Shaw library is finally being remastered and released on DVD we are getting to see Sun Chung's filmography.

This film is an entry in the "martial world clan" genre where various clans fight it out for control. Here one clan is accused of massacring another clan and is brought to trial at a tribunal of all the clans. Meanwhile two "lone wolf" assassins (played by Diavid Chiang and Ching Li) are sought out to do some behind the scenes intrigue. There are a number of characters in the story but they are all clearly defined and it's easy to follow the complicated plot.

The standouts are the artful yet strong direction from Sun Chung and the excellent battle scenes and martial art choreography from Tang Chia. The fights are really well shot and edited. The Shaw regulars do their usual good job acting and moving.

This is a strong recommendation, check the DVD out. It's a bloody devil of a film.
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7/10
Sun Chung's Forerunner of his Shaw Bros Masterpieces
Filmfandave20 September 2010
JUDGEMENT OF AN ASSASSIN (1977) is a moderately intriguing wuxia entry that could be considered as a forerunner of the director's masterpieces.

An ambitious evil leader of the 100 Poison Clan has secretly planned to reign the martial arts world through a devious plot. Aided by his powermad uncle, an evil swordsman-turned-hermit called the Bloody Devil (Chen Hui Min), who is also planning for a vengeful return, he launches a campaign of treacherous terror to turn clan against clan, systematically eliminating the stronger cliques before controlling the weaker ones. However, two of the many clan leaders have sensed the plot and assigned their young, skilled and intelligent swordsman - the Swift Sword (David Chiang) and a swordswoman (Ching Li) to uncover the truth. Fearing his plot will fail, the 100 Poison Clan leader hires a deadly assassin Mai Ta Ying (Chung Hua) to protect his interests.

When the truth is revealed, all hell breaks loose at one of the clan leaders' headquarters, culminating in a duel-to-the-death showdown between the Swift Sword, his teacher, the swordswoman and the last evil mastermind standing- the fearsome Bloody Devil, who possesses a staggering level of invincible skills, making even our heroes fight blood and thunder to defeat him!

Sun Chung's directorial flair can be seen throughout this 91-minute wuxia extravaganza: sweeping long shots, innovative angles, appropriate outdoor locations, superimposed and fade-to-black scene changes, and even a bit of slow motion captures.

Most of the fight scenes, choreographed by Tang Chia, are fast, energetic and bloody; mostly involving weapons like David Chiang's unique baton, Chung Hua's spear-headed iron chain, and Chen Hui Min's iron bangles, among others. Sun Chung seems to be following Chang Cheh's style of depicting pain and violence in the way he employs blood during fights.

The visual characterization of the lead villain Chen Hui Min, with his bald skull cap bordered with long black and strands of white hair, his raised eyebrows and long falling mustaches, creates an extremely sinister-looking villain worth noting.

The low point, while not many, is the lack of plot twists (an absolute no-no for a wuxia film).What we get instead is a sort of straight forward plot.

Though not as exciting as HUMAN LANTERNS, or as interesting as RENDEZVOUS WITH DEATH, or as dazzling as THE AVENGING EAGLE, this is still worth collecting for wuxia fans, especially those of the director's.
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6/10
Good but not Great
rob_paterson19 May 2010
A solidly good, but not especially great film. The brilliant (and unique) opening of the film does a great job of grabbing the audience, but then the film itself gets mired down into a tale of clan politics with healthy doses of action. The whole thing feels like it should have had another round of editing at the script stage, because there are story elements (like the seductress) that just walk on and off the stage for no particular reason. It's chock full of neat ideas, and there's a good twist at the end that makes it worth seeing, but overall it can't quite reach the heights it's aiming for.

The other reason it's notable is for its direction, the director really comes up with some brilliant shots that help to keep this film visually interesting even while the story is muddled down. I'd recommend it for students of cinematography as well as Shaw Brothers fans.
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10/10
Murder in the Martial Arts World...
poe42618 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
JUDGEMENT OF AN ASSASSIN begins with the bloodied face of an elderly Clan Chief begging a masked murderer (who's in the process of wiping out the old man's men) who he is. The murderer lies before finishing what he started. Word reaches the Fa Mansion, a kind of mediating place where warring clans can settle their differences. A Grand Hearing is called for and the offending (and offended) parties agree to appear for a Hearing. (One of the Clan leaders, Jao, arrives bearing gifts- what looks like a jade dildo for Miss Fa...) Into the mix comes "Little Hei" (David Chiang). He comes across Yu, the "confessed killer," who has been nailed into a makeshift Iron Maiden (a wooden coffin with nine-inch nails driven into it). Hei offers Yu his freedom, but Yu feigns righteousness and declines. At the Hearing, Yu reveals himself to be a traitor and all hell breaks loose. The Bloody Devil, a notorious ne'er-do-well from years gone by, turns out to have helped Jao orchestrate the murder and subsequent downfall of the innocent clan. JUDGEMENT OF AN ASSASSIN is an excellent movie, with beautiful cinematography and great action (interspersed throughout). Of particular interest, I thought, was the way The Bloody Devil fought Miss Fa's men at the end: attention was given to some individual exchanges, something that rarely happens in a sprawling battle like that. Highly recommended.
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