Despite the English language title, this movie has nothing to do with Shaolin. Instead it is a Taiwan-produced classic from the late 1970s golden age of old school kung fu. A well-scripted, character-driven, lean story features Chen Sing as an assassin who brings up a teenage boy (whose father Chen killled in a duel). The boy is trained with the goal of taking revenge. The salty/sweet relationship between the two carries the film nicely. The story has the feel of a Japanese kid-with-ronin epic. This is also a clash summit meeting of Chen Sing and Hwang Jang Lee, two of the nastiest tough guys in martial arts cinema. Both Chen and Hwang are at the tops of their games. Kicker HJL is at his white- haired nastiest and does great work with a big horse blade. This is also one of Chen Sing's best all-around films (his distinctive and simple tiger-claw style and double sai swords). Action is choreographed by Yuen Biao and Yuen Kwei. Look for them in various masks and disguises, as villains, and as stunt guys. Tremendous sword, three section staff and weapons work from them. Excellent film.
Horrible for the first hour and a half, focusing on silly mechanical horses ("Shaolin Horse Hall Training"), and three crippled guys (armless, legless and "leper") who know kung fu (the armless and legless guys are quite a circus act). Sonny Yue busts out in the final 20 minutes. Imagine a slightly too- stiff Bruce Lee type who uses southern siu lum moves.
Don't bother. Sammo does no kung fu in this dumb sitcom starring an annoying kid.
Stars: Lau Kar Leung, Willie Chi, Andy Lau. MA rating: 3
Lightweight production directed by and starring the master, LKL. Too bad he chose HK silliness over another chance to highlight serious kung fu. LKL is watcheable as always, but his smug supporting cast comes across as flimsy. Willie Chi is far superior in "Burning Paradise".
Okay historical adventure story about south Chinese pirates, opium and Western "bastards". One of the better overall performances from both Lee and Lo, neither of whom seem to have commanded a lead kung fu role effectively. Lo shows off good kicks, as usual (hands are kickboxer-basic). Lee's style is indescribable (acting and silly mannerisms annoyingly similar to Jackie Chan's, maybe intentionally). Some wire fu. Finale is completely implausible.
A hard to find videotape (made for TV?), no-English special filmed in Hunan province. Cast consists of players from a "northern and southern Shaolin" school. Hard to disguise mistakes on video, and these performers do not disappoint. If you like old school action (no wires, no faking) you'll like this. Mak's kicks need more elevation, but otherwise, he's solid. Mainland Chinese women are very impressive (wu shu players). Very no-nonsense (read very mainland Chinese) time-of-the-Republic secret society intrigue.
"Harry In Your Pocket", the James Coburn film from the 1970s, is the best pickpocket movie of all time. I still think so, even after seeing this goofy comedy. Unfortunately, Sammo's great physical humor is not put to good use.
Also it isn't really a martial arts movie, but Sammo and Frankie can't resist some kickboxing here and there.
Fast, precise kickboxing choreography from both stars in this non-stop fights-and-guns special. If you can get past the girltalk, pouting and gossip.
Here is a good case of the Jackie dilemma. First, there isn't that much martial arts in this intricate Hong Kong cop special. Jackie and the cast do go nuts in the finale. What there is consists of lots of magnificent STUNTWORK blended with elements of kickboxing. If you want a movie full of fight choreography, you won't get more than a burst here, and an exploding building.
Maybe it was the times, but Chen Kuan Tai (and many of the original Shaw stars) just doesn't cut it. In this one, he looks soft-boned and weak, throwing moves like elbows when he shouldn't. When paired up against Chen Sing, who uses simple moves, it's clear who is the "tougher guy". To see this unfair fight, skip to the end.
A lightweight Hong Kong star-filled goofball production in which you see all the (wink wink) stars of the mid-90s, joking, flirting, preening and being Ming dynasty idiots. Then, some action at the end, if too much wire fu: a real bit of choreography pitting Leung and Liu (the only real kung fu guys here). Aaron jumps in, and looks pretty fast and sharp but uses more wires. His work is similar to what he does in "Barefooted Kid". Then, like that, it's over.
Empty production that combines that phony Power Rangers/ninja feeling, and a bad Taiwanese assassin-in-the-court storyline. The Venoms are the Venoms (if you like them, this is no different). Widely marketed as a Ti Lung movie, but don't be fooled. All he does is walk around with a Ming Dynasty official's hat and nod.
BEWARE OF RIPOFF. The box features a monk, and a guy somersaulting over two Ching Dynasty guys with spears---but the pics are from other films! This one is a REALLY bad early 1970s production with flailing and very humorously bad kung fu. Legs noodling in all directions, greasy hair flying. The star (Barry Chan?) spends the entire film with his mouth open, head cocked to one side, trying to be Bruce going after sneering, smoking Japanese.
Another great old school classic from one of the great kung fu cinema teams, Ng See Yuen and the Yuens (Wo Ping, Simon, Corey and Sin Yi). Widely considered a sequel to "Drunken Master", but in my view, superior. More and better kung fu (high skill and intricate stuff from all players), and no Jackie-isms. Hwang Jang Lee in his prime, doing his usual kicks, plus drunken style, and drunken mantis.The hero (one of the lesser known Yuen brothers) is very acrobatic and quick. The old wu shu woman from "Drunken" 1 has more of a showcase. The villain from "Once Upon A Time in China", "Master Strikes" has a small but interesting role. Simon Yuen clearly has a stand-in do his stunts.
Perhaps deserves a 4, but I found the fight scenes too scarce and short, and the overall film unsatisfying. Way too much time on a garden variety plot, nightclub scenes, guns, and b.s. side stories like Michelle fighting off the goofy romantic advances of a jerk named Michael. Sanada is the only real man in the flick (his kickboxing is kinda unorthodox). In her few fight scenes, Michelle is ultra quick and her jumping leg scissor is impressive. I am still waiting for a starring role that doesn't include an ensemble of idiots with her. She doesn't do anything here that she doesn't do elsewhere.
Choreographed by Bruce Leung (Leung Siu Lung), directed by Lee Tso Nan. At times hilarious Hong Kong crime/sleaze classic from 1978 with Chen Sing as brutal gangster chief, TTL as a pissed off underling (he is not squeaky clean for once), and Jim Kelly as a "badass" American insurance agent. Bolo Yang Tze plays one of the thugs. Interesting, slightly too-slow choreography marred by tight bell-bottom pants (TTL's kicks don't get the ups they normally do, Kelly's kicks strain to get past knee level) This is one of the better Kelly star vehicles and he struts bigtime. It appears that Kelly had free reign over his own choreography (which looks like it was kenpo-based). Notable for period touches, including bad hair, day-glo pants suits, track suits, pouting club girl/strippers with major eye liner, racism (soundtrack turns "jazzy/funky" every time Kelly shows up), tacky Hong Kong night club settings.
Typical Jackie. Goofs around for 80% of the film (bumpkin/stinky feet gags, etc.), then after someone important dies, gets more serious. Finale has him, true to form, unable to beat the more skilled villain using straight-up kung fu, then winning with silly acrobatics (the "Drunken Master" formula).
About 85% of this movie is silliness with the infantile Lucky Stars (Richard Ng, Fung Sui Fan, Charlie Chin) who ogle and grope women. Endure it. There are two amazing martial arts/kickboxing segments, two premium Jackie-ish car/boat stunts, and a too many HK movie star cameos to count (for those who like that crap). MA segment one consists of:
1) Jackie, Yuen Biao and Andy Lau taking on an army, 2) Jackie vs. Dick Wei, 3) Andy Lau vs. Lau Kar Wing. MA segment two consists of 1) Sammo vs. Richard Norton, 2) Jackie vs. Y. Kurata, 3) Sammo doing escrima with tennis rackets vs. Kurata with sai swords, 3) a rare dominating win for Yuen Biao (watch for his inside crescent ax kick). Ultra fast, crazy acrobatic kickboxing and stuntwork galore. In his few scenes, Jackie plays it straight, and kicks more than usual in his fight scenes. There is a short cameo of Michelle Khan vs. Sammo in a judo match.
Some have discounted this 1996 mainland production. They're idiots. This Chinese republic-era Robin Hood-ish story marks an important return to old school kung fu for Yuen Biao. It is full of long, well-choreographed scenes. YB's best physical performance since the early 1980s, he is fluid, sharp and confident. His acrobatics and kicks are great. Mainland cast---wu shu players--- is quite good. Although the ending is a bit of a letdown, YB fans will not be disappointed.
stylish, somewhat complicated killer/identity caper. More story and
character setup than MA, and way too much soap opera (thus does not
merit a 5), but there's enough. State of the art action, unbelievably
Big budget nicely-produced "Die Hard" type of movie, complete with exploding copters, European locales and blue/green filters. Action-packed with guns and kickboxing. Easily Chiu Man Cheuk's best film yet. Several very slick, tough kickboxing battles with his wu shu training very obvious. Although fine, for some reason, he fails to reach Jet Li's level. But I'm not complaining too much.
Nobody in MA films has the combination of MA training, knowledge of film choreography and personal experience with Bruce Lee, to replicate Bruce Lee.
Except Sammo Hung. Sammo choreographed the imitators in 'Game of Death', but here, he proves that he is the man for the job. This, and Sammo's other film, "Skinny Tiger/Fatty Dragon", are the definitive Lee tributes as well as superior Sammo flicks. It is frightening to watch a man who is physically so different than Lee become Lee, and actually move like him, down to the little nuances. All the Bruce moves are there. All the speed and precision, evident. One scene provides a message to all other Bruce imitations, past and future. Sammo's character stumbles on to the set of a Bruce imitation film and winds up out-Bruce-ing the star of the film with the admonition, "don't insult my idol". Here here.
Ching dynasty epic that has a Shaw Brothers feel, and a star who is impressive and quite spectacular early on. High precision choreography (old school Chinese style). The second half of the movie bogs down a little in court intrigues (the story is similar to that of "Emperor of Kung Fu"). Tsui Siu Keung (fortunately) has a mostly acting role.
The serious shock is that Moon Lee plays the villain (unconvincingly, sniveling in jealousy over a wimpy guy). Generic HK girl cop stuff with generic kickboxing. There are better features starring the triplets.
Amusing mainland Chinese production based on a Chinese historical novel about WWII patriots opposing Japanese. There is some (but not a whole lot of) kung fu, and it is mixed. A short scene with Buddhist kung fu monks is above-average, including a scene showing tai chi push hands (rarely shown on in film). The lead girl (who obviously knows some wu shu) is not bad. The rest, however, harkens back to slightly wobbly-looking early 1970s kung fu, complete with loud impact sound effects.
There are two brief scenes with a pretty tough older guy (who plays a Chinese medicine doctor) who beats up some bad guys. Style resembles of the internal systems (hsing i, pa kua) but hard to tell. Kept waiting for the old man to come back, but he never did. This lame film is mainly about a sissy/pretty boy doctor who buckles to "evil Japanese" during WWII, but finally goes nuts, steals munitions, and shoots the evil ones at the end.
This third-tier late 70s bumpkin comedy stars Cliff Lok Chinese name is Koo Lung. Truth be told, he's one of the annoying stars from that era who played cocky fighters, but was not impressive (knows a lot of forms, but looks soft doing them). Villain Wilson Tong is much slicker.
After his co-starring role as a villain in "My Father Is A Hero", Yu Rong Guong was considered a rising star. Since then, he has not covered himself in glory, appearing in many mainland Chinese action duds and very few showcases for straight martial arts. This film is a cheapo mainland production, too, but the historical premise (a babies separated at birth story that takes place during the Republic/warlord era) lends itself to some old school stuff: There is a training sequence, and a some decent choreography at the end. Style: streamlined wu shu with some Korean looking kicks tossed in. You can tell he has done a lot of wu shu two man forms. Too bad there wasn't more.
Videotaped (made for TV?) long lost bastard son-soap opera and company intrigue with little MA (contrary to what the flyers and box art promise). The star has appeared in a number of action flicks. Unfortunately, he doesn't impress here (too stiff). His co-star and best MA performer is a white guy who uses hung gar. A woman who is a clone of Rosamund Kwan should alleviate some of the boredom.
Videotaped bumpkin gender-confusion comedy that feels like the lowbrow parts of "Wing Chun". Hui Ying Hung, absolutely one of the divas of kung fu movies, is relegated to giggling and pouting. A few brief fight scenes, but they are marred by Tsui Hark-ish quick cuts that don't do her skills justice.
There is kickboxing in the first 5 minutes and the last 10, but in between, this is a very bad HK girl cop bore of the most generic variety. Lots of talking in nightclubs. When villain Dick Wei wiped out everyone else, I was glad.
This one is hitting the rental shelves packaged as a Liu Chia Hui/Fu Sheng film, complete with artwork from other Shaw Brothers films. IT'S A RIPOFF.
What it actually is, is lowest quality garbage from the mid-1970s. Guys running around the countryside, flailing around for no good reason. Yes, many of the cast members (and MA director Lau Kau Leung) would go on to better things, but this one was shot when they were young, and apparently before they developed any skills.
Very typical mid-70s Taiwan production with typical cast. Unfortunately for the film, Carter Wong's skills are limited (stiff hung gar variations). The rest are better. Polly is tough (as always). Sammo has one breakout scene mid-way (which includes 3 section staff work) and is obviously more skilled than anyone else, but as a villain, he dies.
Sammo and Chang Yi use preying mantis. Verdict: a passable way to kill a few hours.
If you like Anita Mui and lamebrained comedies, you'll like this. But as a Jackie flick, this is a near total flop. There are only a few action scenes, and they are each Buster Keaton-esque stunt-oriented (amazing but zero kung fu). I couldn't wait for it to end.
Great old school (late 1970s) stuff. Perhaps the ultimate snake style kung fu movie ever made. There are many variations, including drunken snake. Lots of elaborately-choreographed, acrobatic sequences (staged by Wilson Tong), and training sequences galore. Ng Kun Lung (who was a hot new talent at the time of this one) steals the show with a youthful Yuen Biao-type performance (snake styles plus kicks). Philip Ko also does a fine job, and Wilson Tong (snake style, plus an amusing but made-up lobster!! style) is tremendous in the finale. Cameo for Angela Mao, who uses a tai chi sword and battles Ko (with a fan). Short empty hand cameo for Chin Wei Man.
Absurdist 1980s crime comedy with fair amount of kick boxing. Notable as one of the only two times HJL played the protagonist. Shot late in his career, tae kwon do stylist HJL looks a bit less tough here (the villain outfights and outkicks him). Elaine Lui absolutely steals the show with kick boxing on par with the best girl kung fu players ever.
Endless Carter Wong fight scenes. Two hours of Carter training in the Shaolin Temple and fighting the bronzemen. While technically not stupendous (watered down variations of hung gar, and generic Carter Wong), a very fun movie that will satisfy fans of the original "18 Bronzemen", and "36th Chamber of Shaolin/Master Killer" (which this movie resembles in its training sequences). Polly has a few brief cameos (and, technique-wise, much better than Carter), but this is Mr. Wong's show.
For its time (1977), this was considered a bigger than average, atmospheric epic that reflected more zen Buddhist thought than many kung fu films. It still holds up on some level (it's about temptation and compassion). The MA is passable. Chen Hsing is his usual self (he is supposed to be an expert in five animal styles; adopts a few animal stances, but uses his generic Chen Sing techniques for the rest). Chen Wai Man is average here. Kam Kong throws some decent kicks as the villain.
An old school (1970s) epic that is somewhat reminscent of 'Burning Paradise' in story line. A tour de force for Ti Lung, who dominates this film with many long and well choreographed sequences as well as an interesting acting role (as a patriot posing as a Ching traitor). Ti Lung's wing chun is on full display, including a wooden dummy sequence. Chen Wai Man uses simpler techniques as the villain. Tam Tao Liang has a very small role and throws a few kicks.
Hard to rate this very old (1960s) classic directed by King Hu. Has the rich look and feel of some of the samurai films of that era. And like the old samurai films, the sword scenes are refreshingly deliberate in pace (not rushed), and there is tension and strategy involved. Chang Pei Pei is one of the original fighting divas.
Typical example of what doesn't work with Jackie. This Lo Wei "sequel to Fist of Fury" travesty was a blatant attempt to cash in on Bruce Lee. When it came out, it was even billed as a Bruce Lee vehicle (the "cameo" consists of a few slides of Bruce's face, blown up and set to "heroic music"). A young Jackie is completely hapless as a bum trying to win over Nora (who plays her old role as girlfriend of Chen, or 'Bruce Lee'), and gets the crap beat out of him by Chen Sing, the evil Japanese villain. A joke.
John Woo Golden Harvest production is an early dark meditation on
the meaning of honor and betrayal, and a riff on classic sword/Shaw
Brothers themes. Lau and Wei, fighting "brothers", mutter
existential things, help each other out (cynically), face big odds.
Some gratuitous slow mo. The film
This dark 1970 classic directed by Chang Cheh defined the genre. It should be viewed as "pre-kung fu", before choreography and real martial arts were emphasized. There is some nice Peking Opera in the beginning, but after that, it's all brutal knife fighting and sloppy nastiness.
Although not physically gifted, David Chiang is as hellbent on revenge as Bruce Lee (in "Chinese Connection/Fist of Fury"). Many amusing cameos of future stars such as Chen Sing, Chen Kuan Tai and Koo Lung, all of whom are quite young here.
This brooding film was directed action-directed by Donnie, and demonstrates his increasing maturity as a film maker. Unlike "Legend of the Wolf", the action sequences are clean and visible. A Shanghai doctor/martial artist running a medical clinic in the poor part of town uncovers a grotesque conspiracy involving a vicious "axe gang" and foreigners. He also gets tangled up with a woman who is the sister of the leader of the axe gang. Top notch Donnie wu shu/kickboxing/wing chun. Nemesis Yu Rong Guang (wu shu/kickboxing) matches him equally. There is a great sequence in which they do nothing but chin na (joint locks).
Despite the great martial arts cast, this LKL-directed flick was no better than generic. If you've seen one Moon Lee or Chin Kar Lok "little innocents versus bad gangs" film, you've seen them all. There isn't much MA, except for the opening credits (some mainland wu shu demo stuff) and the gratuitous finale featuring Lau Kar Leung versus a younger kickboxer. Sifu Lau uses hung gar, does some neat staff work, kicks more than usual. This scene is short, and the only part worth the time.
A remake of an old swordplay classic (that I didn't like much to begin with) The remake is much worse. Dump this waste of time into the same pile as "Sword of Many Loves" and other early 1990s "flying Hong Kong stars with swords on wires" horrors. This is just another excuse for Brigitte Lin to act cocky and fly around (zero MA), Maggie to stick her lip out and pout (zero MA), and for both of them to catfight over pretty boy Tony (zero MA)in a remote desert hideout. Everyone is on the damned wires (which is why the film gets a 0 rating). A very long snoozefest. Donnie's MA skills are so superior to everyone else's, it's laughable. But he barely has a chance to do a thing except get sliced up in the end.
This should have been an "epic international action thriller" with a cast of stars. Instead, it's a cheaply-filmed, long, talky and horribly boring affair that is totally implausible. Imagine "Charlie's Angels" (all women besides Oshima obviously not Interpol material), but not attractive (except for Jade Leung), and in China.The only MA at all: a few short Oshima kickboxing sequences, and Yuen Wah taking on the entire contingent of stuck-up women. Worthless.
Mainland Chinese production about freedom fighters during the Japanese occupation. Sibelle Hu is actually not the main star. Several unknowns show decent form (good Korean style kicks). The finale is tough and brutal (shades of "Chinese Connection").
For those fascinated by the history of Shaolin, this legend of Tamo (Bodidharma) will be welcomed for its reverence for the stories, plenty of Buddhist philosophy (director Brandy Yuen is a Buddhist, and it shows) and scenery. MA-wise, there is a handful of scenes, most of which are credible wu shu, some of it wire-assisted (Fan Siu Wong is quite skilled).
In this underrated slapstick Sammo tour de force, the rotund one plays three characters. It's not really so much about gambling or ghosts, as about a comedy/action mixup that involves revenge. There is enough MA to satisfy the Sammo hungry. The usual excellent blend of kickboxing, acrobatics and various elements (joint locks). In the finale, we get one of the longer Sammo displays of wing chun, Billy Chow's kickboxing, and a villain who does hung gar.
This is an awful and campy exploitation film from the mid-70s, complete with gratuitous soft core, strip and rape scenes (close-ups of the breasts of stout Chinese women with wah-wah guitar for background music), and a story that makes little sense. If you get past that, however, there is a handful of very good MA sequences featuring Korean masters Byong Yu and Wang In Sik. Both display good kicks and joint locks. There is one excellent duel between the two that (tone-wise) resembles the kind found in "Chinese Connection". Golden Harvest clearly wanted to market Byong Yu as a "next" Bruce. Angela Mao and Sammo have small supporting roles and don't do a whole lot.
This late '70s film was financed by the Hong Kong Kung Fu Federation and hailed as a showcase for various masters who co-star. They are Lee Koon Hung (the late choy li fut sifu), Chan Sau Ching (monkey), Chiu Chi Ling (hung gar; has appeared in a number of old films as a musclebound buffoon) and Lam Man Wai (a wing chun practitioner who won some boxing tournaments in HK). Unfortunately, besides brief cameos of them doing forms during the opening credits, and them getting creamed by "evil Japanese karate villian" Philip Ko (who steals almost every scene), there is hardly anything to see. And what you do see is not impressive. Lee Koon Hung has a little more to do than the rest, but still not much MA. They do a lot of standing around and coaching the (unfortunate) star, Cliff Lok (Koo Lung). Han Ying Geet (aka "The Big Boss") has significant screen time and does something resembling white crane. Koo Lung won some forms competition in Singapore, but is flowery and not crisp. Amazing that the HK Kung Fu Federation deemed him worthy of starring in a role as "the sole savior of Chinese martial arts".
Casanova Wong has one fight scene that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie (he literally kicks Cliff Lok off the screen). The premise could have worked with a more skilled player (a Sammo Hung type) in the lead.
After an impressive (but small) part in "Master of Zen" and a starring role in the bizarre "Story of Ricky", Fan Siu Wong makes a strong case here as a SUPREME kung fu movie star. MA fans will know right from the opening credits (a series of fight scenes) that this is an old fashioned fight fest. Fan is ultra fast, athletic and effective, and does it all.
Wu shu (look out, Jet Li). Tae kwon do (excellent kicker). Weapons (escrima done in wu shu style, Chinese sword, etc.). He takes on Ni Shing (who plays a Japanese martial artist who uses an effeminate "women's style"), Billy Chow (as a Thai boxer), and a couple of Caucasian kickboxers who are very good. The story is strictly old school (Fan is a kung fu instructor who gets in the middle of a mob dispute), and there are annoying "daughters" he must save. But the MA is incredible.
Enjoyable kung fu comedy (one of the few Shaw Bros. comedies) with Ti Lung putting in a typically solid performance as a prince, raised and trained in kung fu by three "silly Shaolin monks". Slightly lightweight focus of the movie keeps it from getting a 5.
The dubbed version sold in the US is titled "Iron Man". It is one part (I think there are two parts) of a mainland Chinese depiction of the Fong Sai Yuk/ Wu Wai Kin legend. This movie can be viewed in the same light as many other mainland epics and early Jet Li "Shaolin Temple" films---excellent (champion) wu shu players, wall to wall kung fu, no nonsense story line, and spectacular locations. The guy who plays Fong Sai Yuk uses a freer form wu shu style and kicks a lot. He is shown to do the Shaolin "two finger kung" (made famous by monk Hoi Tang), but it's faked here.The Wu Wai Kin player is even sharper, and has better hands. A woman does some interesting pa kua and a villain demonstrates a northern mantis variation. Some crazy mass fight scenes when a contingent of "wu tang monks" attack the protagonists in "formations".
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