Thursday, October 20, 2016

THE EUNUCH (1971) #65


Released May 12th, THE EUNUCH (1971) is the creative work of prolific screenwriter Lo Wei who surprisingly did NOT direct this movie himself but instead works with brand new director Teddy Yip Wing-Cho. The action director is Simon Chui Yee-Ang and the man that put it all together is the great producer Runme Shaw. This is a very straightforward story of treachery and revenge somewhat based on historical fact. All right, let’s get busy!

Pai Ying is THE EUNUCH
From the middle of the Zhou Dynasty (6th century B.C.) to the end of Imperial China in the Qing Dynasty (1912 A.D.) the Emperors of China did not trust men and their carnal desires and so used Eunuchs to work in the palace close to their concubines so there was no chance of sexual impropriety in the court. Unfortunately the Eunuchs found other ways to betray the trust and misuse the emperor’s power that was uniquely theirs. The eunuchs were hated with a passion that is often reserved for those that are "different" and so there are many such stories in Chinese history about their misdeeds. This is just one of them that is also one of revenge. Please enjoy it,... if you can. 

Chung Wah as the Imperial Crown Prince Zhu Jin

Yeung Chi-Hing as Prince Jin's teacher

the good: Lisa Chiao Chiao as Yan Yan. Chung Wah as Crown Prince Zhu Jin. Yeung Chi-Hing as Old man, Man Gongsun, Zhu Jin’s teacher. Yung Yuk-Yi as Old woman master, Yan Yan’s teacher.
the bad: Pai Ying as The Eunuch, Gui Dehai. Wang Hsieh as General Ye Zicong. James Tien as General’s guard. Yeung Chak-Lam as General’s guard. Little Unicorn as General’s guard.  

HONORABLE MENTION: Sammo Hung as first challenger in contest. 

Lisa Chiao Chiao as Yan Yan

Yung Yuk-Yi as Yan Yan's teacher

FIGHT TIME: THE EUNUCH (1971) was choreographed by Simon Chui Yee-Ang by himself (he often shares the chores with Sammo Hung) the last time he choreographed by himself was on A Taste Of Cold Steel (1970) and he once again does a great job and even improves on his previous work. I counted six (6) fight scenes including the extra long finale but I never felt bored at any time during the film. I loved his work most notably with the pole and Lisa Chiao Chiao’s solo fight at the temple was fierce!

HONORABLE MENTION: Not only was Simon Chui Yee-Ang’s choreography top quality but Lisa Chiao Chiao’s performance during her solo fight at the temple equally exceptional. I totally believed each killing technique and I also believed her taking on such a large number of men at one time with a combination of skill and rage!! Bravo!

Lisa Chiao Chiao after she realizes she has been played...

RECOMMENDATION: THE EUNUCH (1971) is an emotionally charged journey of Chinese history that is well worth watching. In addition, it is Teddy Yip Wing-Cho’s first directed movie and since he goes on to direct (and write) THE THUNDER KICK (1974), (direct only) SLEEPING FIST (1979) and (direct only) THE THUNDERING MANTIS (1980) it is, at least in my opinion a collectible conversation piece for kung fu flick lovers of all ages. So, overall I’m going to say it is a must-have and certainly a must-see as an interesting part of Shaw Brothers and karate / kung fu movie history. See you next time!

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Thursday, October 13, 2016

THE DUEL (1971) #64

THE DUEL (1971)

Released on April 21st, THE DUEL (1971) is yet another well-loved movie produced by the elder brother Shaw: Runme Shaw. It is written by, surprise, surprise Chiu Kang-Chien, the writer of THE SINGING KILLER (1970) but not so surprisingly, also the writer of THE BELLS OF DEATH (1968). THE DUEL (1971) is a tale of intrigue set on the backdrop of the birth of The Republic of China. The great Chang Cheh is the director working once again with the action direction team of Yuen Cheung-Yan and Tang Chia putting in their most exciting work to date! Let’s get busy!

Ti Lung as Tang Ren Jia

David Chiang as Jian Nan, the Rambler  and  Cheng Kang-Yeh as Xiao Mao

On the surface of it THE DUEL (1971) is a tale of a fateful duel between two fighters. Tang Ren Jie is fighting to avenge his godfather’s death at the hands of a journeyman in the underworld (the Rambler), Jian Nan, a highly skilled fight with no ties to any one gang and as such can be persuaded to help one gang or another. In this case however, Jian Nan is deceived in killing Tang Ren Jie’s godfather, Shen Tian Hung, an elder gang boss who is actually retiring from the criminal life after taking revenge for a friend of his who was also killed recently. Jian Nan must fight Tang Ren Jie but he is sorrowful for what he feels is an unworthy kill for him since his victim was going to retire from the gang life and become a civilian. 
Tang Ren Jie saves Jian Nan's life during a battle
THE DUEL (1971) takes place during “The Warlord Era” or the period after the Qing Dynasty from 1916 to 1927. Whether they were called warlords or bandits or gangsters, these people wrecked havoc on life in Mainland China where it was a “man’s world” and if you were weak or a woman you could be forced to do whatever you were told and corruption was everywhere and justice was whatever the powerful said it was. I mention this because the more you know of China and this era the more there is for you to experience in THE DUEL (1971), it is that deep.  There are double crosses galore and everybody has deep characterization if you care to look for it. A look at life in China after the Qing Imperial government and before Communist Party rule, THE DUEL (1971) is a must have for everyone's library of Asian films.   

Chuen Yuen steals this scene but ONLY if you are paying attention to details

the “good”:  Ti Lung as Tang Ren Jie. David Chiang as Jian Nan, the Rambler. Chang Kang-Yeh as Xiao Mao. Ku Feng as Tang Jen Lin. Wang Ping as Hu Die.
the bad: Chuen Yuen as Gan Wei Bin. Hung Lau as Shiu Li. Wang Ching Ho as Jau Hai Shan. Lee Wan-Chung as Senator Fung.

HONORABLE MENTION: Chuen Yuen is absolutely repulsive as the big bad, excellent acting especially when you are not suppose to focused on him. 

FIGHT TIME: THE DUEL (1971) was choreographed by the fight team of Tang Chia and Yuen Cheung-Yan. Their design style could certainly be called “fast and furious” and it was again difficult for me to grab screen shots of action without any blur. They also like to keep multiple fights working simultaneously making for some very exciting scenes where you could get caught up in just trying to follow everything. I counted twelve (12) fight scenes making this one of the most fight filled movies to date. No wonder this one is a fan favorite!
HONORABLE MENTION: The all-star cast of henchmen used throughout the film. Including: Liu Chia-Yung, Yuen Woo Ping, Fung Hak-On, Cliff Lok, Wang Chung, Yuen Shun-Yi, Chen Kuan-Tai, Bruce Tong Yim-Chaan, and more!

RECOMMENDATION: Any Shaw Brothers, David Chiang and Ti Lung co-starring project needs no one's recommendation, especially mine. It is entertaining and collectible. It is automatically a must-see and a must-have. See you next time!

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Tuesday, October 4, 2016



Released April 9th, THE JADE FACED ASSASSIN (1971) is the first movie adaptation of (pen name) Gu Long’s extremely popular wuxia novel: Jue Dai Shuang Jiao which has been called in English: The Proud Twins, Two Peerless Heroes, The Legendary Siblings, etc. It was produced by Sir Run Run Shaw, scripted by Wong Fung [The Golden Knight (1970)], and directed by Yan Jun [The Iron Buddha (1970)] who, this time, does not use or at least does not credit an action director which is surprising considering the popularity of this stand-alone novel from Gu Long but we shall see what we shall see, eh? Let me point out from the outset that the twins are both male in the novel but Sir Run Run Shaw went for the female lead as is his usual choice so one twin is female and the other is male. Okay, let’s get busy!

The Chang Chuen Clan Creed
The head master of the Chang Chuen Clan had bestowed the Clan leadership to his most senior male student, Chang Chun on his deathbed. This is done in the Jiang Hu by handing over a badge known as the Headmaster's Creed. Unfortunately Chang Chun was not the most skillful of his pupils. That honor went to the older of his three daughters. While the second daughter feel in love with Chang Chun, he had an affair and twin children with the youngest daughter and he had no choice after their master’s death but to take his family and run for their lives. But before he left, he sent a message to his foster brother the hero, Lian Lan Yan informing him of his plight and asking for help.

Chang Chun, his wife and twin infants had only gone a short way when The Weird Four of Lao Shan ambushed them, taking the Chang Chuen Clan Creed in their possession and were intent on murdering them all. Suddenly, the second elder sister appeared and struck down the whole gang saving them. But when the eldest sister came everything changed. She was the big sister and the highest skilled and by right she should be the clan headmaster so she killed her youngest sister and her husband and grabbed a sword intent on o murdering the twin babies. 

Second Sister (Er Jie)

Eldest Sister (Jie Jie)
However the second sister could not bear the murder of the two infants so she convinced her older sister that they should instead, separate the two siblings and create a situation where they would end up killing each other making for an exquisite revenge. The eldest sister agreed and they went back to their mansion taking the male sibling. Over a period of eighteen years, she raised the child (Hua Yu Chun) as a member of the Chang Chuen Clan and made him vow to find Lian Lan Yan and kill him and any of his family members as sworn enemies of the clan.  

When the Hero Lian Lan Yan finally comes across the scene of the bloodied bodies he finds two survivors: the female infant and Black Face, one of The Weird Four of Lan Shan. Black Face tells Lian Lan Yan that Chang Zhai set him up as a fall guy and is waiting at Happy Valley. Hero Lian leaves Black Face right where he is to die while taking the female infant with him and goes off to Happy Valley to find Chang Zhai.

When Hero Lian gets to Happy Valley he finds a haven for villains and the evil people there promptly trick him and beat him nearly to death. But Lan Cun Xiu, the Poison Scholar has come to Happy Valley to turn over a new leaf, so he deceives the other residents of Happy Valley into letting him keep Hero Lian to use as a human guinea pig while the villains decide to keep the female infant with the intention of raising her and training her to be a champion of evil. However over the course of eighteen years she (Xiao Lu Er) learns her true identity from Lan Cun Xiu and is told to find Chang Zhai and revenge her father's death.

Lily Ho as Xiao Lu Er

Kao Yuen as Hua Yu Chun
Now they both walk the Jiang Hu on a collision course with destiny. I am not going to keep it from you, this is an epic tale, and an adaptation worthy of the original novel and is a must see!

the good: Lily Ho Li-Li as Xiao Lu Er. Kao Yuen as Hua Yu Chun. Ku Feng as Lian Lan Yan. Fan Mei-Sheng as Yu Chi Zhou Guang. Violet Pan Ying-Zi as Tse Xin Chan. 

the bad: Chang Pei-Shan as Chang Zhai / Chang Ting Le. Essie Lin Chia as Jie Jie. Chia No as Black Face. Kwok Chuk-Hing as Er Jie

HONORABLE MENTION: Lily Ho Li-Li has captured the spirit of the character Xiao Lu Er from Gu Long's novel and draws us in enough to enjoy the movie. Good acting! 

FIGHT TIME: THE JADE FACED ASSASSIN (1971) is directed by Yan Jun who (according to the credits) doubles as the action director. I counted ten (10) fight scenes including the finale and there is plenty of action here to entertain us along with a great story. I must say though, the action has a low-tech, old fashioned feel (not as slick as say, Tang Chia’s work). Funny thing is, the choreography is very well suited for the feel of the movie and complements the background music and overall style of the film. Good job overall 
HONORABLE MENTION: Liu Chia-Yung has a minor cameo, and I spotted Wang Chung and Yuen Cheung-Yan as extras / stuntmen.

RECOMMENDATION: THE JADE FACED ASSASSIN (1971) is a “must see” and opportunity to experience popular Chinese modern literature without learning to read the most difficult written language (imo) on earth.  As the first adaptation of Gu Long’s very popular novel it should have some collector’s value as well. Get this movie at all cost, don’t say I didn’t tell ya! See you next time!

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