Sunday, November 27, 2016



Released on October 1st, 1965, TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS (1965) was produced by Sir Run Run Shaw and was the first movie that showcased wuxia themes and action without being encased in Chinese Opera. The script was written by San Kong based on a series of wuxia stories written by Ping Jiang Bu Xiao Sheng called Jiang Hu Qi Xia Chuan (Shang Xia). Unfortunately not much else is available on the author or his series in English. The movie adaptation was directed by Hsu Tseng-Hung, a long time cinematographer, TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS (1965) was the first time Mr. Hsu directed a movie! There is no action director or choreographer credited for this movie. Let’s get busy!

JIMMY WANG YU as Gui Xiao Wu

Central to the story of TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS (1965) is the Jin (Gan) family Castle located in Dragon Valley and the “knights” of Jin Family that are known for bringing justice to others in the Jiang Hu even if it means challenging other martial artists. A young warrior (Gui Xiao Wu) with a military background has been betrothed to the Jin family and on his way to reunite with his bride-to-be stumbles upon an escort caravan being attacked by masked armed warriors. 

Gui Xiao Wu decides to get involved and defend the escort caravan. He is injured and knocked unconscious for his trouble by the masked attackers. When he wakes up, he discovers the great swordswoman; the Scarlet Maiden has treated his wound and they become acquainted. 

The Scarlet Maid seems very concerned with Gui Xiao Wu and advises him to stay focused on training to revenge his parents and go to Jin Castle to improve his kung fu. She tells him how to get to Dragon Valley and Jin Castle and sends him on his way. After Gui Xiao Wu gets to Jin Castle, in the middle of the night, the monks of the Temple of the Red Lotus attack Jin Castle.  After the battle, Gui Xiao Wu believes he knows the identity of the masked robbers, --the very family he is to be wed into! What is he going to do, now?!

IVY LING PO as The Scarlet Maiden

CAST REPORT: Sir Run Run Shaw assembled an all-star cast of some of the greatest actors Shaw Brother Studios had to offer!

the good: Introducing: Jimmy Wang Yu as Gui Xiao Wu. Introducing: Lo Lieh as Du Zhuang. Chin Ping as Jin Lian Zhu. Guest starring Ivy Ling Po as The Scarlet Maiden. Li Ming as Great-grand Madame Jin. Tien Feng as Master Dragon Jin. Lin Jing as Madame Jin (Lian Zhu’s mom). Petrina Fung Bo Bo as Jin Xiao Ling. 

Petrina Fung bo Bo as Jin Xiao Ling
The bad: Introducing: Chow Lung-Cheung as Monk Zhi Bao. Fung Ngai as Red Lotus Chief Fa Fu. Wong Ching-Ho as Red Lotus Chief Yan Zong. Lee Wam-Chung as Red Lotus Chief Zhang Yuan. Chen Hung-Lieh as Monk Zhi Yuan. Wu Ma as Monk Zhi Lai. 

SPOTTED!: Tang Chia, Liu Chia-Liang, and Yuen Wo-Ping are listed by Hong Kong Movie Database as cast members in the movie as Red Lotus members. While I did spot Tang Chia and Liu Chia-Liang, I was unable to spot Yuen Wo-Ping.  

Tang Chia

Liu Chia-Liang corner left
FIGHT TIME: TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS (1965) has no action director credited. I counted five (5) fight scenes including the big finale at The White Dove Convent. There is almost no empty-handed combat. All combatants excel in throwing projectiles but it is particularly a specialty of the Jin Family. The fights at Jin Castle are the main battles of the movie. The Yuan-Yang Sword technique is a featured sword style that is very powerful but the young couple has yet to master it. 

Now, let's talk about the kung fu, because, let's face it, it is why I started watching these movies and got hooked on Shaw Brothers in the first place. I remember in the 1980's when wushu in America first became a big thing and there was a lot of discussion on what was the difference was between "kung fu" and "wushu" techniques. Well, as I am currently watching "The Journey of Flower" a Chinese drama from Chinese television on Youtube, the answer would be to watch any pair of fights one from " The Journey of Flower" and one from "Temple of The Red Lotus" and it would be obvious as to what the difference was, although to express it in words still might prove challenging. The words that came to mind as I watch the fights in Temple of The Red Lotus were "raw" and "realistic". The techniques displayed in Temple of The Red Lotus were also "to the point" and very practical. I really appreciated that even though I also like the fancy stuff as well. There is very little flailing and waving arms and weapons about pointlessly. The martial arts here are definitely worth looking at and every so once in a while someone throws in a nice stance. As far as the amount of action, I am going to say that five fight scenes is a fair amount of action and will use five battles as the standard by which to judge the amount of action in future movies. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Jimmy Wang Yu shows off his athleticism and seems skilled in martial arts. (Lo Lieh, not so much.) Chin Ping also does a good job when performing her stunts although she is still occasionally stunt doubled. The casting here is very balanced between male and female.

a technique from the Yuan Yang Sword Style

The Scarlet Maiden watches over them
RECOMMENDATION: TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS (1965) is a great adaptation than makes me want to read the novel and learn more about The Scarlet Maiden and her previous adventures. But, as I said earlier, the novels are not available in English. These are all interesting characters and in addition to being a historical collector’s item, I recommend this movie because the story and action are worth-while, for any viewers of martial arts movies. I honestly did not think I would enjoy this movie because of its age. If the rest of the movies are this good then I can be very excited about all the work ahead of me. See you next time!

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Sunday, November 13, 2016



Filmed in 1964, TIGER BOY was not released until February 16th, 1966. It was produced by Sir Run Run Shaw who chose Chang Cheh to write the screenplay and directed the film, which is based on a Chinese folk tale. Chang Cheh wrote about his experience filming this classic in his book: Chang Cheh: A Memoir. There were no fight choreographers used for the making of this film and it was filmed in black and white. 

DISCLAIMER: I HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE! Anything I write about the plot has come from reading advertisements for the movie. Period. 

It has been fifteen years since Tiger Boy’s father has been murdered. Tiger Boy has been on the trail to avenge his father’s death for some time when he comes across a damsel in distress, Jiang Xiao Qing and rescues her. It turns out the men that attacked the woman are led by the son of the man who murdered Tiger Boy’s father who is named Jin Peng.  Jiang Xiao Qing and Tiger Boy develop feelings for each other, which causes him to doubt his love for his childhood sweetheart (played by Chin Ping). When Jiang Xiao Qing  stumbles into the villain's lair,  Tiger Boy must rescue her again and hope to finally avenge his father's death. 

the good: Jimmy Wang Yu as Tiger Boy. Chin Ping as Tiger Boy’s childhood sweetheart and woman warrior. Cheng Lui as Jiang Xiao San. Margaret Tu Chuan as Jiang Xiao Qing.

the bad: Lo Lieh as Jin Peng. Tang Ti as Jin Ba-Wang


By all means I wish that every person with any interest in the wuxia genre would do anything and everything to get their hands on this movie!!!

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

THE GOLDEN SEAL (1971) #66


Released June 23rd, THE GOLDEN SEAL (1971) is directed by veteran actor Tien Feng, his first solo direction project. Working with Wong Yi-Wa (who?) writing the script and Leung Siu-Chung [THE LADY HERMIT (1971)] directing the action, Mr Feng gives us a typical tale of revenge with twists that seem awfully familiar but don’t quite mesh together in this story. Senior Shaw brother Runme Shaw gives Mr. Feng this opportunity as the producer, but I am not quite sure what the back story is. It is of record that Mr. Feng does some back and forth work between independent movie companies and Shaw Brothers in 1971 and 1972 before settling in with the rival company in 1973. All right, let’s get busy!

Ku Feng as Lei Zhentian

Ku Feng as Lei Zhentian   and   Cliff Lok as Xiao Bai Lung

Lei Zhentian is a power hungry bully who is determined to rule the Jiang Hu by force. His gang of thugs have become the Sun and Moon Clan and one by one they have challenged the other local clans until they have become rather powerful in their own right. Along the way they have done many misdeeds and have crushed any who have stood before them while having no regard for righteousness whatsoever. Therefore it stands to reason Lei Zhentian has many enemies and it is his fate that they band together one day, to end him for once and for all.  

Chung Wah as Dai Tianchou of the Green Dragon Clan

Wang Ping as Wu Dapeng of the Sun and Moon Clan

the good: Chung Wah as Dai Tianchou. Wang Ping as Wu Dapeng / Xiao Yan. Yue Fung as Feng Jing Yi. Pai Lu as Ms. Shi.
the bad: Ku Feng as Lei Zhentian. Chan Shen as Wu Tianting. Cliff Lok as Xiao Bai Lung. 

HONORABLE MENTION: Pai Lu as the exotic cave-dwelling orphan keeps you interested in this movie that is less than totally original.  Tien Feng has a cameo as the Green Dragon Clan grand master in this movie he directed. 

Yue Fung as Feng Jing Yi

Pai Lu as Ms Shi

 FIGHT TIME: THE GOLDEN SEAL (1971) has Leung Siu-Chung as its action director and once again his choreography is crisp and easy to follow, however there is none of the creative under-cranking I loved so much in THE LADY HERMIT (1971). The under-cranking used for this picture is either rushed or lazy and is sometimes unintentionally comical. Mr. Leung also seems to not have as much confidence in the women fighters as they are often stunt doubled to a fault and in an obvious way no less. I counted seven (7) fight scenes in this movie, which is a bit less than Mr. Leung delivered in his past efforts. Over-all the fighting here is a middle of the road effort or a “5” on a scale of “1 to 10”.

HONORABLE MENTION: The three way women fight in the cave could have been longer and with less stunt doubles would have rocked the house!

Three-way girl fight!
While there are some faults with THE GOLDEN SEAL (1971) it was still an entertaining film that I can confidently recommend for entertainment. The direction by Tien Feng is too much of a patchwork to be of merit to this great actor and his career shows that directing was not his passion. If you can see it without buying it then that would be ideal in my opinion. It is collectible only if you need to have all of the wuxia films produced by Shaw Brothers. See you next time!

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