Jin jian can gu ling (1979) Poster

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Plot Muddled and Confusing But I Enjoyed the Climactic Showdown.
Space_Mafune25 June 2006
A Kung Fu warrior named Shao Tu (Li Tung) wanders around helping the oppressed but makes many deadly enemies along the way. One such enemy is Mao (Wang Ching) who leads his army of fighters and conspires a deadly plot to bring about Shao Tu's downfall. Years later his son Shao Shu (also played by Li Tung) comes searching for his father's bones finding the only way to get them is over the dead bodies of those who conspired to murder his father.

Where this delivers the goods is with its Kung Fu fighting action. It features many spectacular battles and one truly impressive one during the film's climax. It's just too bad that the film gets bogged down with too many different characters out for revenge against Mao, and how this all came to be, although it does manage to make the lead villain look like a real evil sneaky bastard who viewers will no doubt want to see get his comeuppance.
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REVENGER - Average kung fu tale with Ti Lung and other good players
Brian Camp9 December 2004
In the late 1970s, one-time Shaw Bros. director Pao Hsueh Li made a number of independent kung fu films which had the disadvantage of low budgets but the advantage of lots of former Shaw Bros. stars in the casts. While it was great to see these stars in action together, this casting practice forced the screenwriters (including Shaw Bros. house scribe Ni Kuang) to jam the story lines with way too many characters, forcing some of the actors into smaller parts than they should have had. These films included EIGHT ESCORTS (aka 8 PEERLESS TREASURES), BLOODED TREASURY FIGHT, both also reviewed on this site, and REVENGER.

REVENGER benefits from an exemplary star performance by Ti Lung in a dual role--Chao Tu, a wandering kung fu champion of justice, and, later in the film, Chao Shu, his own grown son. The plot is often fairly compelling, dealing at first with Chao Tu's efforts on behalf of the oppressed and his ambush by a provincial leader (Wang Ching) and his crew of fighters, and later with the son's mission to get his father's bones back and then get revenge for his father's murder. However, the second half goes off on a number of confusing plot tangents that are never fully developed, including the fates of a brother and sister who were separated as babies and wind up on opposite sides in the conflict. The sister, played by celebrated femme fighting star Hsu Feng (A TOUCH OF ZEN), doesn't even enter the film until the 68-minute mark.

The World Video English dub seen for this review clocked in at 101 min., which is longer than normal for a late '70s kung fu film but still plays as if whole scenes or parts of scenes were cut, thanks to either a cut print or awkward editing. Still, the film does have a strong cast with many dependable kung fu players including, in addition to the three already mentioned, Taiwanese kicking star Tan Tao Liang, as Hsu Feng's brother; female star Shih Szu as Ti Lung's lover and mother of his son; Ling Yun as a neutral fighter who is forced to choose sides at a key moment; and the beautiful Tiu Man Ming as Wang Ching's brassy daughter. There are lots of fight scenes involving hand-to-hand kung fu and various exotic weapons. Ti Lung is particularly good in the early kung fu scenes as a wandering do-gooder who fights off various bad guys. The fights are staged both outdoors and in fairly well-appointed studio sets. The final brawl involves most of the surviving characters in a melée in Wang Ching's palace and includes as participants the two comic drunken "uncles" who helped raise the young Chao Shu.
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A confusing mess of a Shaw copy
Leofwine_draca19 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
THE REVENGER is a Taiwanese vehicle for Shaw Brothers star Ti Lung very much in the Shaw Brothers mould. Lung even looks like a Shaw hero, dressed in flowing white robes and rocking a wicked beard to boot. The scenery and staging is all Shaw too, and to hammer home the similarities still further, Shaw scribe I Kuang had a hand in the storyline.

Sadly, on watching this film you soon realise that it's a far drop in quality from what Shaw were offering at the time. Lung plays a dependable heroic character but the story is all over the place and continually introduces new characters whose presence is a mystery. Lung goes around fighting crime before falling foul of the usual dastardly bad guys, and in a major plot twist is killed at the halfway mark. The story then follows his lookalike grown-up offspring on a mission of revenge. The fights are okay and Shih Szu is a welcome presence in support, but THE REVENGER as a whole is a confusing mess.
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Substantial star power but played too safe
ckormos116 December 2016
It opens with Ti Lung casting out false gods. Another hero interrupts and asks they be spared and he agrees. Cut to a woman trying to escape from an arranged marriage with her true love. Ti Lung again butts in. Some fighters are tired of him interfering so they send assassins. Next is an abrupt cut to an escort being robbed and Shih Szu tries to escape. Ti Lung sets aside his chicken dinner to help her. But was it all a trick?

Brian Camp mentions in his review a runtime of 101 minutes that seems as if whole scenes were cut. I agree but it also seems to drag at that runtime. I first watched this movie about two years ago and just made some notes to myself, "Plot drags, probably doesn't make sense but I would watch it again and give it a second chance." So I did watch it again to write this review. My copy is VHS format screen with English dubbing by the A team and Turkish hard subtitles.

This movie has all the ingredients to be one of the best of the year. Yet it struggles to attain "average for the year and genre" on my scorecard. I feel everything about the movie was played safe, directed, filmed, and acted exactly as expected. The only thing "out of the box" was the two eccentric uncle fighters. Characters like that are not unusual, it is just that they didn't fit the perfect mold of this movie. Also, the reveal at the end was too little too late.
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