Saturday, March 11, 2017

REVIEW #5: THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO (1966)

REVIEW #5:
 THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO (1966)










Released October 08th, 1966, THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO (1966) reunites the cast and crew of TIGER BOY (1964). TIGER BOY was “an experiment” Sir Run Run Shaw permitted Chang Cheh to engage in to produce a new genre in films provided Mr. Cheh kept expenses low. To that end Mr. Cheh used all new actors in the starring roles, used no martial arts action directors and filmed the movie in black and white. Chang Cheh also wrote and directed the film that was not released until Sir Run Run Shaw was convinced that the new genre was indeed a success. TIGER BOY was given a limited release February 16th, 1966 according to HKMDB (Hong Kong Movie Database).  Elder brother, Runme Shaw produced THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO with the script written once again by the director, Chang Cheh adapted from the Japanese movie: THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI (1964). Tang Chia and Liu Chia Liang were the action directors. Let’s get busy!





"CLICK" to enlarge and read more about TIGER BOY (1964)


THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO (1966) takes place during the twilight of the Ming Dynasty in China as the Han people fight off the Manchu invaders of the north. After a fierce battle the Manchu forces have some Han forces surrounded. Commander Lu Fang, the grandson of the Ming General has escaped the Han troop's encirclement and is on his way to see the Imperial Minister Yuan to request reinforcements when he comes across three villagers kidnapping a young noble woman. 

scene from THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO (1966)

same scene from THREE OUTLAW SAMURAI (1964)
The young noble woman is Wei Wen Zhen, the daughter of the County Magistrate Wei Huaire. The three kidnappers are the Head of Mati Village: Gao Bao-Shi, his son: Gao Ji-Xian and another village dweller: Li Chu-Yen. Commander Lu Fang learns that Mati Village has suffered from several years of drought and the Imperial Court has exempt the village’s provisions from taxation. However, County Magistrate Wei Huaire has continue to tax the village of Mati and otherwise oppress the villagers until, in desperation, they came up with this plan to kidnap his daughter which is to essentially sacrifice their own lives to save their village. 





Back at the Magistrate’s residence, the enraged Magistrate Wei Huaire has become desperate to resolve his daughter’s kidnapping before The Imperial Minister comes for his periodic inspection and reports any irregularities to the Emperor. Prisoners and thugs of all sorts are promised rewards in return for his daughter’s safety but is there ever any honor among thieves?


The star, Jimmy Wang Yu  (right)

CAST REPORT
the good: Jimmy Wang Yu as Commander Lu Fang. Lo Lieh as Yan Ziqing. Cheng Lui as Huang Liang. Margaret Tu Chuan as Li Ju Shan’s wife. Chin Ping as Wei Wen Zhen. Fanny Fan Lai as Xiao Qing. 
the bad: Lui Ming as Magistrate Wei Huaire. Lee Wan-Chung as the Magistrate’s advisor. Tang Ti as Master Xin / Qian. Fung Ngai as Master Han Rui. Ng Ho as Constable Liang Tong.

HONORABLE MENTION: Tien Feng, Ku Feng, Cliff Lok, Chen Hung-Lieh, Chang Pei-Shan, Wu Ma, and Violet Pan Ying-Zi.

SPOTTED: Little Unicorn Chan, Tang Chia and Liu Chia-Liang.

Bruce Lee's childhood friend Little Unicorn, center left.

Liu Chia-Yung (right) as a stuntman

extreme left: Tang Chia, extreme right: Liu Chia-Liang
FIGHT TIME: This is the first credited team-up of what is to become the legendary choreography team of Liu Chia-Liang and Tang Chia.  That fact makes this a collector's item! I counted eight (8) fight scenes and some minor skirmishes for an action-packed one hundred and three minutes. The most common mistake made when watching old movies is to judge them using the current standards instead of the standards of the time in which they were made. That said, everybody’s techniques including the killing techniques were clean, functional and precise for the most part. The exception being, some of the multiple killing techniques that sometimes missed their marks but not so much as to ruin the movie. These gentlemen did a great job and we know there is more to come!






RECOMMENDATION: Unfortunately the first movie ever directed by Chang Cheh: Tiger Boy (1964) is out of print and unavailable so I may never see, let alone review this movie in my lifetime. This review of the second movie ever directed by Chang Cheh, THE MAGNIFICENT TRIO (1966) demonstrates the how skilled Mr. Cheh was at characterization. Since it is an adaptation and not an original script I am not comfortable giving an opinion on his writing skills based on this movie but history speaks volumes about Mr. Cheh’s writing talent so there is no need for me to add my silly two cents on the matter.  I can say that I was thoroughly entertained by all aspects of the film and so I can recommend it wholeheartedly to collectors and casual viewers alike. See you next time!




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NEXT UP: THAT MAN IN CHANG-AN (1967)




















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