Wednesday, February 8, 2017



Released May 18th, 1966, THE KNIGHT OF KNIGHTS (1966) is based on a script by Chang Cheh that according to the website Hong Kong Cinemagic is one of Mr. Cheh’s first foray into the wuxia genre. [Chang Cheh was involved in the planning of TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS (1965) and THE TWIN SWORDS (1965)]. Produced by both SHAW BROTHERS it is directed by the multitalented Sit Kwan but unfortunately no action director is credited. 

Lee Wan-Chung as Governor Wang
Tang Ti as the bandit Min Kong

During the Ming Dynasty, King Jing of a southern Chinese province entered in an agreement with the Imperial Eunuch Pei to increase the eunuch’s power with the ultimate goal being to usurp the power of the emperor. To this end, King Jing has enlisted the aid of the bandit Min Kong and his men along with the governor of Haimin, Governor Wang. Min Kong and his men disguise themselves as monks and take over the Zhaoqing Monastery as a base of criminal operations. 

Lee Ying as Inspector Lin
The criminal operations of Zhaoqing Monastery consist mainly of human trafficking but it is done as such a level that the people become very disgruntled. To make matters worse, Governor Wang has imposed unfair taxes and has even seized some of the people’s land from them and this causes outrage among the people and attracts the attention of Imperial Inspector Lin who asks his nephew, Wen Suchen of the Seven Men Of Dragon School to investigate the monastery  and the governor and bring him evidence of their crimes.  

Kiu Chong as Wen Sy Chen

Seven Men of Dragon School (minus one)
Unfortunately when Wen Suchen receives the Imperial Inspector’s orders he is visiting his sick mother so he sends his six classmates ahead of him to investigate in his stead. Although his six classmates are highly trained in martial arts they are no match for the booby traps and the hit and run tactics of the fake monks and are wiped out but with one classmate escaping, barely clinging to his life. Wen Suchen and his two young students come across this same classmate on their way to meet up with the rest of the Seven Men Of Dragon School and with his last dying words he tells Wen Suchen of their failed mission at Zhaoqing Monastery!  

Wen Suchen decides a different tact is called for and goes undercover with his two students as a scholar to Zhaoqing Monastery to face Abbot Min Kong. The three of them battle kidnapping, slavery and uncover a plot to murder Imperial Inspector Lin atop of Guanri Pagoda!

the good: Kiu Chong as Wen Su Chen. Lee Ying as Imperial Inspector Lin. Cliff Lok as Wen Lung. Chow Lung-Cheung as Wen Hu. Lily Ho Li-Li as Lin Hong Yu. Lily Li Li-Li as Hsin Yang. 
the bad: Lee Wan-Chung as Governor Wang. Tang Ti as Abbot Kung Ming. Fung Ngai : senior monk. Fan Mei-sheng : senior monk. Tien Shun : senior monk.

Lily Ho Li-Li 's "controversial" scene for the time (1966)
HONORABLE MENTION: Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Liu Liang-Hua, Cheng Lui, Chen Hung-Lieh, Chiu Hung, Wang Kuang-Yu, Simon Yuen Siu-Tin

SPOTTED: Li Ching as Chin (Carpenter You’s sister) and Bruce Lee’s childhood friend (Little) Unicorn Chan as one of the fake monks in the opening of the film. 

FIGHT TIME: THE KNIGHT OF KNIGHTS (1966) has no fight director credited and indeed the quality of the fights (or lack thereof) attests to the lack of skill in the execution of the fight scenes. The fights seemed to me to be very poorly done with the real martial artist looking only slightly skilled and the non-martial artists looking like they had somewhere else to go and wanted to be killed quickly. Not using a fight choreographer was a mistake and the movie suffers from it. I counted only five (6) fight scenes including the short assassination attempt on the Imperial Inspector –enough for a legit kung fu movie and wisely spaced out to keep boredom from being a factor.

HONORABLE MENTION: It is a long way into the movie but, young Cliff Lok has the best-choreographed fight in the movie and is very convincing in warding off multiple opponents. Kudos

RECOMMENDATION: THE KNIGHT OF KNIGHTS (1966) is not a bad movie per-se. It features an all-star cast and guest stars the crème de la crème of the Shaw Brother studios. The script by Chang Cheh is above average as well. It’s major failing is in the lack of martial art style or weapon focus or of martial art choreography. However because of the full back nude scene it is an asterisk in wuxia film history and so it is collectible and should be purchased for this reason. Feel free to keep it in its sealed packaging so it is worth more money. See you next time!

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