THE MIGHTY ONE – Lesser Shaw Bros. martial arts adventure
THE MIGHTY ONE (1972) stars Ivy Ling Po, the only major Shaw Bros. star in the cast. It was directed by Joseph Kuo, who later gained fame for numerous 1970s kung fu classics made in Taiwan, including MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING, BORN INVINCIBLE, 7 GRANDMASTERS, and the 18 BRONZEMEN series. I'm assuming this one was made in Taiwan because the sets and locations look different from those in the usual SB swordplay productions of the time and because none of the SB regulars are in the cast. The actor who plays the villain, a red-faced, white-haired evil kung fu master in a black-and-red outfit, is Lu Ping, who is identified in the disc's Special Features bio as having been a top star for decades in Taiwan (he was about 40 in this one). IMDb doesn't list many credits for him, though. He has the biggest part in the film.
Ivy pops in and out of the action as does her co-star and fighting partner, Ling Yun, who was active in kung fu movies, both at Shaw Bros. (SIX ASSASSINS, FIVE TOUGH GUYS, KILLER CLANS) and elsewhere. They play older versions of characters seen as children in an eight-minute opening sequence. No one else seems to age in the film. One actor among the villains, Lung Fei, made dozens of Taiwan-based kung fu films in the 1970s and early '80s. IMDb also lists Blacky Ko as a cast member, although if he was in the film I failed to spot him.
The plot involves the villain going around the country terrorizing renowned kung fu teachers, a premise that looks forward to director Kuo's later films, including 7 GRANDMASTERS and MYSTERY OF CHESS BOXING (aka NINJA CHECKMATE, also reviewed on this site). The final showdown is something of another Kuo trademark as the two heroes combine their best efforts to take on an all-powerful villain in an extended fight scene filmed on location.
There are a lot of fight scenes, most of them quite gimmicky, featuring a variety of exotic weapons, high leaps over opponents and, in an original touch, a bit of telekinetic kung fu. However, there's not a lot of actual martial arts expertise on display. Ivy wasn't exactly the greatest fighter among Shaw Bros. female stars and I think it would have made for a better film if they'd cast Cheng Pei Pei or Shih Szu instead. Ivy's specialty was lavishly mounted Huangmei Opera (e.g. LOVE ETERNE, LADY GENERAL HUA-MULAN) and for a star of her stature, this film was something of a comedown--although she did make the spectacular swordplay adventure, 14 AMAZONS, the same year.
This one's moderately entertaining and a little different in tone and style for a Shaw production of 1972, but is ultimately too lightweight to be of note. I wonder if this was made by a different company and picked up for release by Shaw.
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