Saturday, July 30, 2016



Shaw Brothers Studios' history speaks for itself. It successes in the film industry are legend and it's one of the few movie companies that can get you sick and tired of hearing someone say the word "classic" after hearing the title of a movie produced by that very studio. But still (I always wanted to say that!) they were not perfect in every decision and, so --a lack of belief and insufficient monetary reward caused them to lose one of their biggest stars after 1970. In 1971 Shaw Brothers decided to re-launch one of their biggest hits without its original star

"The king is dead, all hail the king!" Jimmy Wang Yu is gone and producer Runme Shaw has a new sheriff in town and his name is David Chiang in the form of THE NEW ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1971) released February 7th. The brand new script is written by wuxia specialist I Kuang and directed by frequent collaborator Chang Cheh. The action direction is by the team of Liu Chia-Liang and Tang Chia and as in the original also features a brand new weapon. Let's get busy!

Lung Yi  Zhi had long been a hero of the Jiang Hu and a defender of the underdog at least in the public eye. But "Big Hero Lung" as he was known had a dirty little secret (or two or three). Once Lung Yi Zhi had come up a bit in age he became insecure about his reputation as top fighter in the Jiang Hu. Among the young and up-coming fighters were the users of the two-sword fighting technique that seemed quite popular among the other young fighters. Lung Yi Zhi carefully constructed a weapon (a three-sectioned staff) and counter techniques to defeat this new style of swordplay but the problem still remained how to keep his name as top fighter valid and his reputation as defender intact all at the same time. He could hardly start challenging the younger swordsmen without being considered a bully. 

Sadly, he began to fabricate situations  revolving around these young fighters, and then swoop in "to the rescue" and defeat them. Rather than kill his young opponents he would "punish" them by having them chop off their own right arms and swear to retire from the Jiang Hu forever. He would often rob a security escort's cargo and use his men to blame the targeted swordsman. He would then return the cargo after "punishing" the young swordsman even further raising his status as a hero. The punished swordsmen would never speak of the incident to anyone out of their very own shame. Over the years it has added up to quite a number of young swordsmen. Soon it would be the young hero Lei Li's turn. Lei Li used a long saber and a shorter companion knife. However his reputation for his arrogance almost outmatched his reputation for his swords skills. Our story begins as the hero Lei Li falls into Lung Yi Zhi's web of deceit.


the good: David Chiang as Lei Li. Ti Lung as Hero Fung. Li Ching as Ba Jiao.

the bad: Ku Feng as Lung Yi Zhi. Chen Sing as Chief Chan Chun Nam.

 HONORABLE MENTION: Wang Chung, Lau Gong, Huang Pei-Chih, Wang Kuang-Yu, Cheng Lui, Bruce Tong Yim-Chaan, Yau Ming, Liu Chia Yung and Cheng Kang-Yeh.

Replacing Jimmy Wang Yu as the new one-armed swordsman is David Chang as Lei Li going with a different type of character for the lead this time. Ti Lung is very much a co-star replacing Lisa Chiao Chiao's character as the influential person in the one-armed swordsman's life. Ti Lung's character is named Fung Jun Jie and is a rash young swordsman also inexperienced as was Lei Li. The two characters immediately relate to one another and the strong chemistry between the two actors makes this an old school bro-mance and communicates the necessary emotions as we move along in the story. Li Ching is Ba Jiao: the love interest and is the only woman in the movie so I guess she serves so we "don't get the wrong idea --not that there's anything wrong with that" as to the hero's preference.  She is also, along with the eatery keeper, responsible for an unintentional laugh when he suggests the ruffians only wanted "to have some harmless fun" with her. Yeah right! 

For the "bad guys" Ku Feng is fantastic as the very complex Lung Yi Zhi the aging hero swordsman who keeps crossing the line to keep his status in the Jiang Hu but always wanting to jump back over to the side of righteous. A slippery slope indeed. Roles such as this usually go to Tien Feng or more veteran actors but Ku Feng was excellent casting as history has shown us. Chen Sing is also a villain of note being the Chief of Tiger Mansion where a lot of the action takes place. 

FIGHT TIME!: Liu Chia Liang and Tang Chia (Tong Gaai) are back as the action choreographers. I counted six (6) full fight scenes not including little short scrimmages, so there is plenty of action but is it me or was there an attempt to tone down the carnage compared to the last version? but having just seen RETURN OF THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1969) last week as opposed to seeing them two years apart, the carnage was a bit more vicious and varied in Return Of Then One-Armed Swordsman than in THE NEW ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1971). Well as least to me. However the techniques were a bit more sophisticated in The New One-armed Swordsman, but then, all of the players this time around were much more martially inclined than Mr. Wang Yu, no offence of course. Over all, the techniques and combinations were now much more difficult in their execution and so the action is starting to favor a more knowledgeable fan base as it pertains to martial arts and as history shows, the trend continued. Also of note neither Liu Chia Liang nor Tang Chia made an on-screen appearance. They both usually do at least an cameo in a martial capacity of some sort. I don't know if this means anything, though. 

Chang Cheh directed and I Kuang (Ni Kuang) was the lone script writer this time around. Over-all after the much much more of "The Return",  "The New" just seems like much much less. But by no means does "much much less " mean bad. By no stretch of the imagination is this a bad movie. Nor have I read any review or heard any fan say anything of the sort. So, what happened? Why no sequel? Why no continuation of the franchise with the new stars?

For my money they should have at least done one more sequel with everything amped up. Alas they did not. Does anybody know why? What ever the reception was of THE NEW ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1971), TRIPLE IRONS (1973) clearly cemented the kung fu craze of the seventies in the United States.Movies theaters started specializing in kung fu double and triple features. We demanded more and we got it. I recommend THE NEW ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN (1971) without hesitation or reservation. See you next time!

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

THE LADY HERMIT (1971) #59


The elder Shaw Brother, Runme Shaw produces another hit with THE LADY HERMIT (1971) released January 22nd, directed by Ho Meng Hua, written by Yip Yat-Fong (The Jade Raksha and Heads For Sale), with action directed by Leung Siu-Chung. An action filled revenge tale introducing a brand new female action star: Shih Szu!. Let's get busy!

Cui Ping has traveled all the way to Dugan Town with a letter of recommendation for Chief Wang Cheng En of Da An Security Service from her father. Cui Ping is determined to learn martial arts at the foot of a real martial arts master, in particular, the one known as "The Lady Hermit". She heard rumors of The Lady Hermit being sighted in and around Baijiang Town near a Chung Kuei Temple and is determined to go there to ask The Lady Hermit to be her master. Cui Ping has already learned "all the basics" and literally cracks a mean whip. She is confident The Lady Hermit will accept her as a student.

What Cui Ping does not know is that Chung Kuei Temple is a trap for The Lady Hermit set up by her nemesis, Black Demon. When Black Demon and The Lady Hermit last fought three years ago she was severely injured during the battle and has been hiding out recovering from her wounds and developing a counter for the Black Demon's deadly technique "shadow-less claw". If Cui Ping is not careful, instead of just becoming the disciple of The Lady Hermit she may also become the cause of her death! Game on!

Yes, that is SAMMO HUNG third person from the left
the good: Introducing Shih Szu in her first movie as Cui Ping. Cheng Pei-Pei as Leng Yushuang / The Lady Hermit. Lo Lieh as Chang Chun. Fang Mien as Chief Wang Cheng En.
the bad: Wang Hsieh as Black Demon.

HONORABLE MENTION: Black Demon disciples -- Sammo Hung, Chiu Hung, Chuen Yuen, Tong Tin-Hei, Lee Siu-Chung, Law Hon, Woo Ka-Kei, Siu Wa, Cliff Lok, Yeung Chak-Lam, Suen Lam, Ng Ming-Choi, Bruce Leung Siu-Lung, and Bruce Tong Yim-Chaam.

FIGHT TIME: THE LADY HERMIT (1971) has Leung Siu-Chung (Lady of Steel) as its action director and just as he did in his last work, his choreography is still crisp and easy to follow while he ups the ante with more fights: I counted ten (10) fight scenes including the finale while Lady of Steel had eight (8) and a creative under-cranking that spiced up the fight in spots. I would love to see more of this style because it adds some suspense to the fight. Action-packed and creative fight scenes, need I say more?

THE LADY HERMIT (1971) features the return of Cheng Pei-Pei and Lo Lieh together in a love triangle but unlike GOLDEN SWALLOW, this movie's third wheel is a woman, the newcomer Shih Szu. There is a saying: "Hindsight is 20/20". and looking at the future of Cheng Pei-Pei this movie could have been her swan song and would have been perfectly fitting as such. The truth is, she did make two more movies for Shaw Brothers one more wuxia and one comedy (released in 1972) before leaving for the rival studio Golden Harvest. The drama of the love triangle added texture and interest to THE LADY HERMIT (1971) and the action was top notch making my recommendation for this movie a must-see and collectible for all audiences. Cheng Pei-Pei's star presence is undeniable but this is definitely Shih Szu's movie and they don't debut better than this! See you next time!

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Saturday, July 16, 2016

KING EAGLE (1971) #058


Our first movie of 1971 is KING EAGLE (1971) released on January first it is an all-out fight fest featuring Ti Lung for what (I am guessing) is the hunt for Wang Yu's successor based on the one-note characterization of the protagonist. Sir Run Run Shaw is the producer, Chang Cheh is the director, I Kuang is the script writer, and action directors are Tang Chia teaming up yet again with Yuen Cheung-Yan   (VENGEANCE 1970). King Eagle is basically a murder mystery without the mystery!  Let's get busy!


Tien Yi Tung is a orthodox clan that has done many good deeds for the common people. It is a clan with a headmaster and 8 chiefs. But one of the chiefs, First Chief Hung Sing Tien, wants to be the headmaster himself. He wants to be the headmaster for his own personal gain and not to continue the good work of the Tien Yi Tung. To that end he has assassinated the current headmaster and has arranged partnerships with heretic clans to support his take-over by murdering his own clan brothers. Unfortunately Jin Fei, known as King Eagle witnessed the death of the Sixth Chief, Chu Hung. Jin Fei is not a member of any clan and wants nothing to do with the politics of the Jiang Hu and he makes this quite clear. However, First Chief Hung Sing Tien, has decided that Jin Fei might get in the way in the future and decides to kill Jin Fei anyway. Dude, bad idea! 

the good: Ti Lung as King Eagle Jin Fei. Li Ching as Seventh Chief An Yuk Lin. Lee Sau-Kei as Headmaster of Tien Yi Tong. Wang Kuang-Yu as Fang Shing. Wang Chung as Second Chief Fan. Yau Lung as Sixth Chief Chu Hung. Cheng Lui as Chief Koon.
the bad: Chang Pei-Shan as First Chief Hung Sing Tien. Li Ching as Eighth Chief An Bing Er. Cheng Miu as Deadly Fingers Wan Hau Ba. Chen Sing as Fifth Chief Chen Tang.

HONORABLE MENTION:  Bruce Tong Yim-Chaan, Tang Chia, Tung Li, David Chiang and Yuen Shun Yi have minor roles and Li Ching plays two roles as younger and older sisters. 

FIGHT TIME: KING EAGLE (1971) is action-packed! I counted nine (9) fight scenes including the finale. Tang Chia and Yuen Cheung-Yan are the action directors. They have worked together before [VENGEANCE (1970) and HAVE SWORD WILL TRAVEL (1969)] and once again do an excellent job here with mostly sabre (dao) fights that are really fast paced and not just under-cranked. I was thrilled to watch this movie and it was very hard to capture a fight still without any blurr. Kudos!


KING EAGLE (1971) is Ti Lung's first movie where he is dominate for the entire movie and is not sharing the lead role with Wang Yu nor David Chiang. In fact HKMD credits David Chiang with a very small role as an extra or stuntman but I could not spot him. It also introduces Bruce Tong Yim-Chaan in a featured role above extra or stuntman. As I have stated earlier the action is spot on and the only flaw in this movie is with its story. I called it "a murder mystery without the mystery" which you will understand in the first five minutes of the film but there is another point not made clear. Why don't they just leave him alone? Why murder the people in the restaurant? Who were they waiting for in the restaurant if not him? Anyway these questions are forgivable if you are just looking for a good time and I certainly recommend KING EAGLE (1971) for a good time and, any film with Ti Lung in it from Shaw Brothers Studios is an automatic collector's item. That's all for now, see you next time! 

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Saturday, July 9, 2016



The Singing Killer (1970) released 12/22 is Shaw Brother's the last kung fu movie released in 1970. Sir Run Run Shaw produces Master Director Chang Cheh's heist / kung fu / modern music / romantic / young people's slice of life in Hong Kong / dramatic movie. This movie is definitely one for the time capsule with everything and the kitchen sink from the Shaw Brothers Studios packed inside it and it takes itself very seriously. The script is co-written by I Kuang and Chiu Kang-Chien, and the song lyrics are written by director Chang Cheh. Action direction is by the skillful team of Tang Chia and Liu Chia Liang so it is a legit kung fu movie. Let's get busy! 

Chen Sing the "Chinese Clark Gable"

Mr. Fung is a music promoter and the manager of the Dragon Palace Night Club. Mr. Fung is also an independent member of the criminal underworld in Hong Kong. Occasionally his legit world and his illegal underworld would cross paths but this time they will totally collide as his multi-million dollar jewelry heist of Tse's Jewelry Shop is missing one "key" element. That element is someone to crack open the safe in the manager's office. Namely Mr. Fung's heist requires the skills of the Singing Killer himself, the former criminal gang member known as "Johnny".   

David Chaing doing teen angst

Mr. Fung is keenly aware of Johnny's reluctance to return to a life of crime but he also knows Johnny's weakness --"Lily". Lily is the love of Johnny's life and his former gang member and girlfriend. They have long went their separate ways but Johnny would do anything to be reunited with Lily or at least, that's the plan...

Wang Ping as "Shiu Hsien"

the good: David Chiang as Johnny. Wang Ping as Shiu Hsien (Lily). Stanley Fung as Detective Wang.
the bad: Chen Sing as Manager Fung. Tina Chin Fei as Ho Man. Ku Feng as Brother One.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ti Lung, Dean Shek, and Wang Chung have very small roles. 

The Crew
FIGHT TIME: THE SINGING KILLER (1970) spared no effort by assigning the masterful team of Tang Chia and Liu Chia-Liang to do their fight choreography which consisted of street-fighting and some gun play. I counted six (6) fight scenes which is not very action-packed but with the drama and music necessary for the story any more action would have made for a much longer film which I can see them not wanting to risk on a multi-genre movie. Bottom line is you can't do too badly with these guys as your action directors, they do good as usual.

HONORABLE MENTION: And the Academy Award goes to...Chen Sing for pretending he can't fight! 

David Chiang versus Wang Chung

Let's dance!

I'll have to recommend THE SINGING KILLER (1971) if for no other reason than the off-the-cuff kick-in-the-stomach realism it portrayed in depicting life on the run for young street people in Hong Kong. If you are not used to Hong Kong movie realism then you might be taken aback when one of the female characters has to "pay the rent" for the group. Unfortunately this does not come until the movie is two thirds over and so you might be bored by the goody-goody two step of the early part of the movie. Over-all this is a movie one should "have" rather than "not-have" but I will not call it a must-see movie. It is, however, a unique look at Hong Kong in the 1970's and as such as some collectible value. See you next time!

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