I feel the same about this one as YOUNG MASTER. A serious martial arts student will be sorely disappointed. The story is a drag. Jackie mugs, moans and jumps around. There is not one sustained fight scene worth watching. Even in the finale, all he does it go "aya" and does a frezied hyena act, finally throwing bags of rice at the opponent.
This film features some very high level southern kung fu done with a lot of precision and snap. As usual, Liu Kar Leung is tremendous (you want to see combat hung gar? this is the one to see). Hui Ying Hung is extremely quick. I think she is one of the great kung fu divas, underrated by most.
This is not a martial arts movie, but a Maoist propaganda film, thinly disguised as a Ching dynasty sword epic. A heroic band of poor peasants battles foreign devils and corrupt upper class tyrants. Amusing, full of clashing peope, but short on martial arts.
This is an entertaining and pure martial arts film for people who appreciate the arts. The story is simple, tight, coherent and even wise (although there is a kung fu bias, this was one of the first to depict Japanese martial arts with any respect). .A Chinese kung fu expert (Liu Chia Hui) is married to a woman who is a Japanese martial arts expert. The two feud over Chinese versus Japanese martial arts. In a huff, the Japanese woman returns to Japan. Aftr a misunderstanding, she returns with a troupe of Japanese masters, who challenge Liu one at a time. The second half of the film is pure martial arts: kung fu versus karate, kung fu versus judo, Chinese spear versus Japanese spear, Chinese sword versus kendo, and kung fu versus ninjitsu. Liu Kar Leung, who directed and wrote, and appears in a cameo as a drunken boxer, created a masterpiece that rivals any of his other productions. His knowledge of martial arts is readily obvious in all of his films.
What sporadic martial arts scenes of note that there are (95% swordplay), are done okay. The problem is, there isn't even enough to merit an average rating.This film, like many Hong Kong flying-people stuff of the '90s, is thoroughly wire-enhanced. The HK star syndrome ("hey, I'm a famous star, watch me pout and flirt with the other stars") is evident in this one.
Also, the story is a strange and incomprehensible whodunit that emphasizes posturing and talking. Frankie is especially irritating. Ti Lung tries hard to act stoic like a Japanese ronin, and succeeds in being boring.
This is a light, fun and unpretentious film. The usual acceptable kickboxing from Biao (who still seems much slower than in his prime), who is his impish self throughout. Samo (who plays a villain!) doesn't have a big fight scene until the finale, which is a rather long standoff between him and Biao (Samo's skills look much higher in this one). Anita shows off her legs and does some phony kicks.
This is a bad but unintentionally funny late '70s oddity from Taiwan that supposedly takes place during the Republic, but so low-budget, you can't tell it's a period piece. Story is typical "I must defeat the Japanese bastards and save my school's reputation". The kung fu is awful (all of the hero's 13 styles look spastic). Chen Sing plays a sickly sifu, and does nothing except take a beating. Trivia buffs: there is a cameo by Frank deMaria, student of famed shaui-jiao master Shang Tung Sheng. Unfortunately, Frank comes off looking terrible with his wild facial expressions and lousy choreography. His polyester slacks don't help.
Don't get me wrong. Jet himself is in top form, and the kicks and punches he throws are quick as always. But this film is so HK-stylized, hip, high-tech and apocalyptic/dark comic-book cool that much more time is spent on the gizmos, freaky characters and too-rapid camera cuts than the choreography. A waste, since Yuen Wo Ping was the martial arts director. This one is for comic book fans. Imagine Jet as a cross between La Femme Nikita and Terminator, surrounded by a bizarro cast. Final note: this is the kind of violent sadistic movie you will never see out of HK again, now that the Chinese censors are in full force.
The handsome, big-maned cocky Chong was viewed as a "new Bruce Lee" in the late 1970s. This movie shows why he never made it. Although widely considered the best of his kung fu career, this story-heavy film shows Chong at his worst. He looks slow, overweight and lumbering. Cranks a few decent kicks but his hand techniques are nonexistent. Wong In Sik embarasses Billy in the finale (but loses only because a girl sicks a bunch of birds at his face). For better Chong, with more kung fu, look for "Sun Dragon/Hard Way To Die".
This is not really a kung fu movie. Minimal martial art content (a few scenes of chi kung, tai chi and hsing-i) relates only to traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, which is what the film is about.
An extremely satisfying (perhaps best) chapter in the Wong Fei Hung series, which should make everyone feel relieved that Jet Li has returned to this role he was born to play. With Sammo Hung choreographing the martial arts, Jet and the players show off not only better moves, but more of them.
Unlike in some of the early Tsui Harks, the wire tricks are not overdone. Jet is lightning fast and his timing and control are impeccable (this is his best martial arts work since 1994). As with all of his movies, you can spot him using many styles (wu shu, northern mantis, chen tai chi, etc.). His kicks are unusually good here. Wing chun practitioner Joe Sayah is convincing as the villain.
An early Lau Kar Leung classic which, as always, finds him in his usual fine form with southern Chinese systems (predominantly monkey style, after the first third). Pay special attention to his stance and footwork. Although there are other films (notably "My Young Auntie" and "Legendary weapons") are better showcases (he lets his protege take over the finale), this one is worth the time.
Stars: Samo Hung, Chen Sing. Director: Samo Hung. MA rating: 5
One of Samo's first directing jobs, and easily one of the best films of Samo's classic kung fu period. Samo shows off numerous southern systems, acrobatics, as well as weapons. Chen Sing, in his prime, does his usual simple but powerful tiger techniques, plus some snake for variety. Villain (Ko Fei?) does mantis. The finale is a whirlwind (similar to the end of "Warriors Two" but better). Warning: film contains stomach-turning rape/violence against women that nearly qualifies film for a full downgrade to "do not watch."
Mid-80s film finds these Shaw Brothers veterans in excellent martial form, much crisper and faster than under Chang Cheh's direction. If you'd told me this was action-directed by Liu Kar Leung, I'd almost believe it.
Ti Lung's hand techniques are as good as any movie he's ever made. Story has Ti Lung (as Iron Bridge Sahm) getting hooked on opium and kicking it through training. Big weapons finale that was slightly disappointing (thus the movie isn't a 5).
Somewhat spotty, disappointing production. The story, the famous one about the Ching emperor who forces a feud between Shaolin and Wu Tang, is poorly constructed and stripped of grandeur. Liu's Shaolin techniques are fine, his training scenes identical to "36th Chamber of Shaolin". His co-star, a smug Hong Kong TV star/emcee, is very unconvincing as the Wu Tang disciple and knows nothing except "8 Trigrams" sword. Disappointingly, there is no tai chi fist demonstrated, despite the fact that that IS Wu Tang.
This is popularly peddled as a Jackie Chan movie. Don't fall for it. He has a few brief scenes, but they are entirely forgettable. This is a silly "all-star cast" movie that tries to be "zany" like "Sgt. Pepper" combined with "Dirty Dozen", but the overall result is just cheap. It's mainly Wang Yu's, but even he has little to do except walk around.
A good example of the late 70s/early 80s "good kung fu with comedy" product out of Hong Kong, post-"Drunken Master". Full of dumb gags, bathroom humor, Bruce Lee hair cuts, silly hermits and failed get-rich schemes. If you can sit through a lot of that, the fighting is high-level and very intricately-choreographed, and finale is a blizzard. Watch for Casanova's excellent kicking technique, and acrobatics and weapons work of his supporting cast. The villain, who's more recently co-starred in "Once Upon A Time in China" and "Ghost Foot 7", puts on a show with his hands.
Horrendous film that many "critics" seem to like. You will want to pop it out of the VCR and smash it. Ta Niu (Taiwanese starlet of the 1970s) is a precocious street urchin who befriends a very ugly Neanderthalish bumpkin.
Both actors have zero martial arts skill. Hwang Jang Lee shows up as a bad guy, throws his usual flurry of kicks, then lies down to die at the hands of the twits.
Starring second-tier fight actors (early' 80s villain and bit part standbys), this is an unimpressive show. Although there is enough action to kill 90 minutes if you're really bored, the wing chun is done incorrectly (wide blocks, wide stances, rigidity and poorly done big-windup kicks). Except for Sammo Hung's "Prodigal Son", no "movie wing chun" has done the real style any justice. Tsui postures like a big shot (for some reason, he has appeared in many wing chun-related productions even though his wing chun isn't exactly the stuff of training videos), and Wong is muscle-bound. Tsui would later follow this movie with a TV series that was decent (thanks to better wing chun by HK actor Kwan Hoi San).
Very reminiscent of "Zen Master 6" (same lead actor, I think), and from the same period, the wu shu perfomers in this one are good and the choreography is okay. Good scenery and classic story (about vengeful separated-at-childhood siblings who train at Wu Tang and Shaolin). Film suffers from lack of focus and no standout character (it's very ensemble; lead guy unfortunately doesn't get enough time). Contains double rarity: women performing pa kua.
Although a shade skimpy on martial arts, this cop/comedy caper contains some typically excellent Sammo choreography. His character fights like Bruce Lee (same as in "Enter The Fat Dragon"). Knowledgable Lee fans will see Sammo duplicates Bruce's wing chun sequence from "Way of the Dragon" (move for move), and does escrima as well as Bruce. Maka is a comedic foil only.
There are only two fight scenes of any substance, and only one from Wai (what a waste). The movie is an annoying Hong Kong hooker/pimp/mob family soap opera. Skip it.
NINJA OVER THE GREAT WALL
Stars: Bruce Le, Yu Hai. MA rating: 3.5
If you can get past the blatant references to "Chinese Connection" (Japanese hatred, of course), and Bruce Le's Bruce-y clothes, indignation, muscle flexing and floppy hair, there's something redeemable. The scenery is good, MA is decent. Among Bruce imitators, Bruce Le seems to be more athletic and a bit more origina (at least he doesn't hoop, dance and do the nunchuks). His techniques are a bit karate-like (reverse punches, etc.). Early appearance by Yu Hai (master in "Shaolin Temple" 1-3 and "Tai Chi 2") who does his typical combo of northern mantis, hsing-i and Chen tai chi derivations. Unfortunately, he gets killed.
Stars: Bruce Li, Dan Inosanto. MA rating: 3
Strange flick with "Bruce" doing slightly less of an impersonation than normal. Garden variety kick boxing. More embarassing is Inosanto, real-life heir to Bruce Lee's JKD legacy and Filipino martial arts god, whose brief fight scene takes place in a crowded and tacky apartment. As impressive as Inosanto is in real life, he doesn't look good on film. After screaming a lot, he loses without doing much.
I do not think of it as a "martial arts movie" so much as an an apocalyptic comic book fantasy loaded with special effects and players who can move. Think elements of "Mad Max/Road Warrior", "One-Armed Swordsman" and (unfortunately) "Legend of the Wolf", glossed over with extreme Tsui Harkisms galore. Easily Chiu Man Cheuk's best work, although again, he has little chance to show off his skills without special effects. He and his crew spin and jump (a little wu shu), and slice with speed (thus the 4), but there is nothing identifiable from a martial arts standpoint.
An awful movie that looks and feels plastic, like "Power Rangers". In fact, that's also how the fight scenes feel. Lots of frenetic karate-ish/kick boxing stuff, and cheesy low budget special effects. I'm inclined to downgrade this to a lower score, since it's a bad film, but the players aren't quite awful.
Quintessential late '90s lightweight flying people special starring all the usual suspects from HK, yapping, preening, winking and having fun. Worthless as a film. Lots of special effects and "magic weapons", zero martial arts.
Dragon Lee is easily the worst Bruce Lee imitator of that era. He's stiff, has no moves and is embarassing. This film is a total waste of time until the end, when Hwang kicks, spin-kicks, jump-kicks and embarasses the hell out of Dragon and his idiot co-star. As usual, once he's done, he has to lose.
A nicely-shot mainland production starrring a topnotch wu shu champ, who was impressive as the villain in "Blade of Fury" and some early Jet Lis. If you can look past the terrible English dubbing (or shut off the sound), good wu shu sword and sabre work. Some empty hand but not enough.
A low budgety Taiwanese production about Shaolin Temple tots and teenagers. Most of the choreography is troupe acrobatics (mass formations) that are neat, but it's not really kung fu. The kids are extremely talented and fun to watch but you won't learn much. The adults in the flick aren't much.
WARNING: although eternally touted as a movie about tai chi, THERE IS NO TAI CHI. There is only Carter Wong Ka Tat, doing his usual Carter Wong hard hung gar-like movie stuff in a white wig. His supposed tai chi consists of squatting in a horse stance to a sound effect. Particularly annoying since the stunt coordinator was Yuen Wo Ping, who later directed some great tai chi epics. If you like old school stuff of the 1970s Taiwanese era, this one is typical but nothing special.
An entertaining sitcom in which Sammo and Maggie, down on their luck, must marriage to fool immigration authorities. To make money to pay off a gambling debt, Sammo must get into the ring. Features three major fight sequences vs. three big name screen fighters. 1. A boxing duel with Philip Ko. 2. A Thai kickboxing duel with Chow. 3. Full-out kickboxing with Dick Wei. Fans of Jackie Chan-style wild, complex stunt sequences in public places should enjoy the finale, which takes place in a Canadian theme park.
Directed by Chang Cheh, and starring same crew as "Across the River". This one is a 1937 triad/warlord/revolutionaries intrgue. The movie fighters are quick and acrobatic, but show nothing definitive. The finale is wild all-out hand-to-hand, and worth the wait.
Surprisingly enjoyable escape-the-warlord romp, above-average MA and less-annoying than average wu shu children. As usual, Chin K.L. is fast and acrobatic, if a little hunchy. Two bad guys, one a Kenneth Lo type with good kicks, the other a hands-style guy (unidentifiable system).
Maybe I'm just in bad mood, but this Taiwanese production from the '70s is typical of that era. A nonsensical plot, and "stars" going through the motions with their patented movie fighting styles (no identifiable and not very crisp). Casanova comes off looking sharp with his tae kwon do kicks.
Possibly the best Alexander Lo film. Styles: mixed up Shaolin movie fighting (primarily southern influences for Lo, mixed up for other players). Many of the cast members besides Lo appear in "Five Fighters of Shaolin". Mark Long is impressive as the villain, and kicks like crazy. Plenty of training scenes. The supporting cast (the monks) are very good. Upon second viewing, this film is downgraded from a 5 due to an ending that is slightly disappointing, and a few dead spots in the story.
Okay but not one of Ti Lung's best ("Opium and Kung Fu Master" is). His choreography is a bit ornate and a notch slow. Tam's part is minimal (he wheels a few kicks, but is unimpressive). Chen Sing is also minimal.
One of a series of mainland productions directed by Chang Cheh (most famous for his Shaw Bros. films) starring an extremely talented Peking Opera/wu shu cast. Like the other films ("Across the River", "Great Shanghai 1937"), this one is full of startlingly quick, acrobatic wu shu and stunning opera.
WARNING: features one of the most revolting torture/impaling scenes ever (the phrase, "getting medieval on your ass", taken literally). But if you can get through that, the lead star, Jow Lung is tremendous in the finale taking on an entire triad singlehanded.
Not an action film despite the kung fu cast and director (Sammo). A boring romance. Skip it.
One of several
non-Shaw Brothers films starring Ti Lung and a predominantly Taiwanese
crew. Based on a Jin Yong "mo hop" novel, this story bears some
similarity to the 1990s Jet Li feature "Kung Fu Cult Master",
and also involves warring clans and an innocent (Ti Lung) who gets tossed
out of one clan and gets tangled up in an intrigue. This film is an appealing
mix of old style kung fu and fantasy. The story moves along well enough
so that you forgive the cheesy sets and occasional 1970s special effects.
Took a chance that this comedy figuring Sammo would have some stuff, and it was there. But just a few sequences at the end (patented kickboxing and fast hands from Sammo). Primarily this is Lam doing his typical Taoist ghostbuster thing, and Sammo as his doltish student.
Although the film spends too much time on a whodunit murder plot, and the martial arts scenes are too short and sporadic, what there is, is very good northern wu shu. Includes demo of long fist and drunken sword, a hero with good hand techniques (hard to identify style) and a quick eagle claw villain.
An enjoyable oddity. Looks and feels like an old Shaw Brothers film (with singer/star Aaron Kwok playing a Fu Sheng kind of goof), but more sentimental, with less action. Aaron performs his moves with speed, precision and style, but the moves are not complicated (basic hands and kicks). They are also aided by wires and editing, and Aaron does not face a formidable villain. Ti Lung doesn't do much this one but act. Surprisingly action director Lau Kar Leung did not (or could not) make Aaron look even better.
Warning video renters. This is a cheapo video/made for TV movie made in Singapore and it is awful. Wisecracking young guys, a lot of jumping around and "shadowless kicks". Pop the tape and move on.
Ranks with "Legendary Weapons of Kung Fu" as one of the greatest Chinese weapons films ever made. Think of "Knockabout" (produced during the same period, with same crew) only with weapons. Dazzling, jaw-dropping saber and spear technique by both Sammo and Lau Kar Wing, who play dual roles (alternating as masters of the two weapons). Long training scenes and expert performances from a very inspired cast.
Five-chapter Wong Fei Hung mini-series (consisting of “Suspicious Temple”, “Headless General”, “Eight Assassins”, “Ideal Century”,and “Final Victory”) is uneven in quality. The installments that are directed by Tsui Hark are quite different (you will notice the more innovative andstrange cinematography). The standout chapters are “Eight Assassins”(noteworthy for the tremendous fight scenes, a great Chiu Man Cheuk performance emphasizing Chen style tai chi against a bizarre super villain, and very weird Tsui Hark atmospherics) and the finale “Final Victory”, which features a furious and moving conclusion. On the whole, these are enjoyable “Saturday afternoon” serialized potboilers that harken back to the original Kwan Tak Hing series. Plot takes precedence over action, although the action is solid.
Despite a martial arts crew (the two Yuens and director Corey Yuen), this movie is a big flat nothing with no martial arts to speak of, except for some knife slashing. This Shanghai crime story has been done a million times, and better (imagine a dull variation on "Setting Sun" and "Shanghai, Shanghai", which also starred Yuen Biao, and "Shanghai Triad"). Kaneshiro does his teenage girl-slaying "I'm a cute Hong Kong star with pretty hair" act, and the Yuens do nothing interesting.
This came out around the Jet Li "Shaolin Temple" era but the players flail around early 1970s style---legs dangling, hair flying. Very sloppy and bad choreography takes place in authentic locations (Shaolin Temple, Luoyang and Kaifeng).
A horrendous early '70s thing, with a teenage Jackie merely a member of a bad (and ugly) cast. Terrible sloppy kung fu with loud sound effects. In one of his only solo scenes, Jackie repeatedly chops a guy on a table like he was a steak until the guy spits blood. What art. Perfect for "Mystery Science Theater" jokes.
Prime and campy 1970s "Bruce" trash. Ho Chung To stars as a lookalike "friend" of Bruce who investigates Bruce's death and runs into gangsters. Contains fingernail torture scene. Finale: Chang Yi makes Ho look bad.
Oddity that is not about the Green Hornet, but Kato. This story re-writes the Kato character as a Chinese superhero "guardian" (there have been Katos going back to the dynasties). Chin Kar Lok does a lot of fast kick boxing (reminscent of Jet Li in "Black Mask"), but looks a bit weird because he's left-sided. Favorite move: jumping spinning inside crescent kick.
A silly waste. The Venoms and Gordon Liu goof around through most of the movie. Lo Lieh has the most martial arts scenes (but you can tell a stuntman stand-in does the best moves).
Generic Hong Kong girl cops vs. gangster stuff. Lacks martial arts (more guns), but what is there is decent (Moon Leeís kickboxing, and training via Lau Kar Leung are always evident).
Gordon does more brooding than kung fu. Moon Lee fans will enjoy her undercover stage act (a nightclub Canto-rock song and dance set is provided in its entirety for your pleasure).
Directed by Ann Hui, this two part historical martial adventure/romance is based on the classic novels by Jin Yong. Gorgeously filmed in northern China, this sweeping heroic epic, perhaps better than any other, captures a uniquely Chinese bittersweetness, and deals with themes of loyalty, love and brotherhood. The story chronicles the conflicts between Ching Emperor Chien Lung (Kin Lung), his younger brother, Jia Lo (Ka Lok), leader of the Red Flower Society freedom fighters, and the women and families of a Mongolian tribe caught between them. Although typical martial arts scenes are not plentiful, the wu shu is good and the martial spirit/atmosphere is strong. Many big battle scenes (armies, cavalry, etc.). Both deserve great respect as films, ranking right up there with the works of Li Han Hsiang and even Kurosawa. I highly recommend both films, and encourage viewing them together.
Enjoyable, lightweight comedy in which Sammo's superiority makes everyone else look bad. He spends much of the film goofing around (the reason the rating is not 5), but when he gets down to business, his hand and kicking skills (many styles mixed) are obvious. Carter Wong is stiff.
One of a handful of Chang Cheh-directed films starring a high caliber cast of mainland Chinese-trained Peking opera/wu shu performers who are acrobatic and fun to watch. This film is weird (costumes are bizarre, the story is too court-intrigue based, and is exotic weapons-heavy) but there is enough kung fu here to satisfy.
An ensemble cast of smartasses yap, ride motorcycles and shoot guns. Michelle acts smug and does nothing martial arts-wise.
Excellent, crisp, fast all-around old school kung fu. Various southern Chinese styles, good weapons. Sammo, as usual, is superb and in his prime. Sammo steps aside for the finale, letting Leung Kar Yan carry it. Leung is very good here (as good as anywhere else), although his moves are very stylized and distinctive (no one moves like him; he can be irritating). Special mention: this is one of Chang Yi's best performances. He is extremely crisp here.
Liu Chia Hui as a smug Emperor Kin Lung. Although the skill level is actually much higher, the choreography is quite intricate, and this film is directed by master Lau Kar Leung, I found it annoying. Too much posturing and goofing around (full of "inneundo fights", as in, supposedly civilized meetings in tea houses that are kung fu fights with various objects). A somewhat useful training sequence that deals with kicking, stance and shoulder movement.
Generic crime chase that feels similar to Yuen Biao's other one, "On The Run". Biao cranks out a few side kicks and spin kicks, and he can still somersault, but he is far from his 1980s form, unfortunately. It has been years since he's done a great martial arts flick.
Directed by Yuen Wo Ping, an almost all-magic and wizards production that will leave martial arts purists angry. Sure, there is some kung fu involved with the magic tricks, but come on, this stuff is irritating. The only one that does anything without magic is Eddie Ko Hung and he doesn't make it for long.
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