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SHAW BROTHERS REVIEWS - please here


#1

Okay, many people on this board have seen SB movies. So, we maybe could start with a special topic.





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title, some information about the DVD/VCD - cast - director - review



Self-written reviews onyl[/size]
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#2

I will come up with a review of “The 36th Chamber of the Shaolin” soon


#3

Executioners From Shaolin



Director: Lau Kar-Leung

Cast: Chen Kuan Tai, Lo Lieh, Lily Li, Wang Yu



This is one of my favourite Shaw Brothers films yet. The film starts from the destruction of Shaolin temple. Along with few other Shaolin students Hong Xiguan manages to escape. He goes hiding and begins his training so he can revenge his master.



This film features the same Pai Mei character seen in Kill Bill Vol. 2. But unlike in KB in this film he really is a Bad Guy, belive me, you don’t want to fuck with him. Pai Mei is definitely one of the best movie villains of all time. The character is played by Lo Lieh and he’s just as cool as Gordon Liu was in KB. Gordon Liu does a small role in the the film but is so short that he doesn’t even have time to get rid of his hair in this film.



The action scenes are exellent. There’s no acrobatic stuff here, but just the speed and the skill is incredible. Besides action there’s some pretty funny humour. The film also has a cool soudtrack. Actors are good, but there are a couple of characters that some people may find a bit irritating. Otherwise everything works very well. There’s a good balance between action, comedy and drama, and the movie never gets boring. A must for all old school fans.



Celestial R3 dvd is very good quality. Mandarin soundtrack with good english subs. Anamorphic picture is exellent too. Extras include for example a very cool martial arts demonstration (Three Styles of Hong Fist).



The Film: 9/10

DVD: 8/10

Extras: 7/10


#4

Eight Diagram Pole Fighter



Director: Lau Kar-Leung

Cast: Gordon Liu, Alexander Fu Sheng, Ku Ming, Kara Hui



The men of a respected Yang family are betrayed by general Pan Mei and led into a trap. Only two of seven brothers manage to escape. The sixth brother (Alexander Fu) returns to home and goes insane. The sixth brother (Gordon Liu) realizes he’s not ready to avenge yet and decides to become a monk. Meanwhile Pan Mei tries to find these two last brothers left alive.



Like the name of the movie suggests the film concentrates on pole fighting. There’s practicly no hand to hand combat, only pole and some sword fighting. The action scenes are exellently done and very fast paced. They are also rather bloody, especially the amazing final fight. There’s plenty of fights plus a very cool training sequence.







Films tone is quite serious and there’s no humour at all. The story is good for martial arts movie. Gordon Liu is exellent in his role but Alexander Fu seems to be overacting a bit. Fu actually died during the production and they had to make changes to the scrip, yet the story holds up well and I didn’t even come to think of the fact that one characrer disappears from the film in the midway trough.



The films soundtrack deserves a special mention. It’s absolutely superb. It’s not only cool but it also works fine on more dramatic scenes. Also, Tarantino borrowed some music from this film to KB Vol. 2 (that piece of music when The Bride uses the five point palm exploding heart technique). Overall, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter is one of the best martial arts films Shaw Brothers has to offer.



Celestial has once again made a great dvd. Original language soundtrack with english subs. Anamorphic widescreen transfer looks better than many Hollywood films from the 90’s. Basic extras with trailers, photos and text info.



Film: 9/10

DVD: 8/10

Extras: 5/10


#5

One-Armed Swordsman (1967)



Director: Chang Cheh

Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Chiao Chiao, Pan Yin-ste



One Armed Swordsman is one of the most influential HK films of the 60’s. It tells a tragic story of a top swordsman (Jimmy Wang Yu) who loses his right arm. He decides to leave his master and withdraw from the martial arts world.



One Armed Swordsman is an highly entertaining film even though it doesn’t have much to offer when it comes to action. Fight scenes in this film are quite simple. They’re still not bad, but people who watch HK films just for action will be disappointed. This films strong point is the story. The main character is tragic and very interesting. Jimmy Wang Yu does good job playing a man who has lived his whole life for martial arts, and now as a crippled has to start everything from the beginning.



The film looks incredibly good. The colors are strong, set ups look great and the landscapes are beautiful. It’s like looking at a living painting. I never thougt a film that was made over 35 years ago could look this great. And as many other SB movies this film has an exellent soundtrack.



The first half of the movie is really great but the second half isn’t quite as good. The film is at it’s best when concentrating on it’s main character. After that the film becomes quite traditional and simple martial arts story about an evil master trying to take over the area. But it still remains an entertaining film with a few exellent scenes here and there. One-Armed Swordsman isn’t the best martial arts film out there but it is one of the most important ones. Not so much in terms of action but the visual look and a killer soundtrack combined with an interesting story create a true classic.



Celestial R3 release offers once again original language soundtrack with english subs. Picture quality is exellent considering the films age. Some night scenes could look a little bit better but otherwise it’s a stunning transfer. Extras offer about 15 min documentary about Chang Cheh, four One-Armed Swordsman short animations plus the usual stuff (trailers, info etc.). The DVD is released in a hardcover box set with Return of the One-Armed Swordsman and The New One-Armed Swordsman.



Film: 8/10

DVD: 7/10

Extras: 7/10


#6

Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan (1972)



Director: Chor Yuen

Cast: Lily Ho, Yuen Hua, Betty Pei Ti



Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan is a revenge movie of a young woman kidnapped and forced to work in a brothel. She starts planning her revenge against both her kidnappers and some of her clients.



Having heard only good things of this classic I had high hopes for it. I was quite disapponted finding out that it was just an average film. Many people seem to disagree but I thought the film was quite superficial and I never really cared about the characters. As a revenge film Lady Snowblood, which was made about the same time in Japan, was a lot better with much more feeling in it.



But Intimate Confessions is not a bad film by any means. There’s some great scenes here and there. The music is okay and the ending is not bad at all. Nice set ups and great costumes prove that this is a quality production. The final fight scene features some nice and gory swordplay, otherwise the action scenes are standard stuff.



When it comes to erotic scenes Intimate Confessions is pretty much family stuff by todays standards (well, maybe not a family film but still). The film is actually quite campy at parts but I suppose it’s ment to be. It still works as serious film too. By the way, this film inspired Clarence Fok to make Naked Killer which is a kind of a remake of this film. These films are still very different by style and Intimate Confessions is a lot more artistic film than Naked Killer.



Intimate Confessions is definitely not bad, it’s just not so good either. I didn’t see anything special in it, but it is considered to be a classic. If you are interested of it read other reviews too cause everyone else seem to like it more than I do.



I got region 0 Thai DVD of the film. It probably features the same transfer of the film as celestial HK DVD. The picture and sound quality is very good for an old movie. The subtitles however were disturbingly small size. The disc was also missing almost all of the bonus material that’s included on HK DVD. The biggest problem was that the disc didn’t play well on my PS2 so had to watch the film with my computer. So be careful if you have more sensitive player. Actually, don’t get this disc at all, get the HK version instead.



Film: 5/10

DVD: 7/10 (not counting the playability problems)

Extras: 2/10


#7

The Warlord [ 1972 ]

Director: Li Han Hsiang

Cast: Michael Hui, Hu Chin, Lily Ho, Stephen Tung Wai, Chung Wa, Kok Lee Yan, Shum Lo, Wong Ching Ho, Simon Yuen Siu Tin



Feature film debut of later comedy star Michael Hui, who already was quite famous at TV and worked with director and author Li Han Hsiang on 3 more films after this. Story is about Pang Ta-fu [ Hui ], who becomes warlord of Shantung at the beginning of 1900 and his strange view of law and governance and also his addiction for pomposity and extravagance.

Till he goes too far…



Expecting a comedy is quite wrong, there are some funny moments, but mostly with a dark tone right after them, is rather a pure dramatic history pic.

The movie is episodic, some of the episodes are quite useless for the plot, draging down the whole pic.



It starts with a 20min lasting court hearing of a possible rape case, even with backflashes; after the verdict you’ll get the next episode, and the former ones has no relation to the rest of the story. That goes on and on, and is mostly simply uninteresting [ a BIG party, his 4th wife does it with another guy,… ] , so you’ll never get the feeling of a clearly arranged direction, or that Li Han Hsiang really knows, what to tell and why.

On the other side the movie is really beautiful, full-plugged pictures with excellent setting and decors; and the womens are quite nice and revealing.

Michael Hui play his Pang very demonstrative and fancy, a little bit like Jack Lemmon in The Great Race , so that the death serios moments simply doesn’t fit the otherwise loose representation.

The movie could have been very well, you see the possibilities everywhere, but a good script is missing and the light and serious moments doesn’t fit.



btw, the censors in Taiwan banned this movie due to the negative resemblance with president Chiang Kai-shek.



5,5/10


#8

Kidnap [ 1974 ]

Director: Cheng Kang

Actors: : Lo Lieh, Fan Mei Sheng, Hu Chin, Tung Lam, Lau Ng Kei, Lin Wei-Tu, Yeung Chi Hing, Li Min Lang, Cheng Miu, Fung Ging Man



Crime drama based on true incidents around a Kidnapping - and murder case ,also taking much time describing the psychological moments which propel the criminals.

It’s strictly focussed on them, the law representatives are mostly faceless and out of the plot.

Lo Lieh plays a moneyless guy working on a gas station, it’s owner is a thorn in his flesh, because he completely knows the differences and painfully shows it: "I can find a new worker faster, than you can find a new job"

Together with 3 friends, who are similarly struck, a plan to kidnap and blackmail this guy is made…



Film is working like a pulp novel, some bizarre situations, some cliches, some overstatements, but behind that you get straight descriptions of the main persons and the motives, while the violence starts and the kidnapping goes horribly wrong.



Acting by especially Lo Lieh and Fan Mei Shang is quite good, you feel with the criminals, and also get in touch with some suspense moments around them and the police. The last 20mins are a little too melodramatic and dragging, the few action sequences by the young Ching Siu Tung [ son of director ] are rather bumpy and mercurial, besides that the movie is very good - B movie like with A movie production values.



15 yrs later a remake was directed by Taylor Wong, named Sentenced to Hang, with Tony Leung Kar Fai and Kent Cheng.



8/10


#9

Return of the One-Armed Swordsman (1969)



Director: Chang Cheh

Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Chiao Chiao, Tien Feng, Wu Ma



In Return of the One-Armed Swordsman Jimmy Wang Yu returns to his role as a tragic crippled swordsman. This time he is needed when heads of nations top swordsman clans are captured and held as hostage by Eight Kings of Swords gang.



Return of the One-Armed Swordsman is much more action packed than the first film. On the other hand it’s missing much of that interesting character development that made the original film so great. The characters feel more �movie characters� than actual people. But that’s what Return of the One-Armed Swordsman is all about. While the first film was a serious martial arts drama the sequel is more of a wall-to-wall bloodshed and sheer fun.



The action choreography is much better than in the first film but it still wasn’t quite as good as I was expecting. When wiewing the film for the first time I was a bit disapponted. When watching the film for the second time I found it much more enjoyable. This film is all about fun. The characters are over the top and so are many action sequences. Fights are gory, bad guys have all kinds of cool special weapons and the films overall bodycount is really high. After having killed about 50 bad guys we get to see our hero going sentimental becouse of all those lives lost. And then, five minutes later he kills another 50 guys. This films has some great attitude. I believe these are the kind of films that Tarantino calls Real Movies.



Jimmy Wang Yu does great job in the lead. He doesn’t really have to act much but he manages to be extremely cool, and that’s what I consider the most important thing in films like this. He reminds me a bit of Sonny Chiba, both guys make great action heroes because of their charisma. That makes fight scenes cool even if the choreography isn’t as great as you would hope it to be. Nice soundtrack helps too, but this time the music isn’t as great as in the first or in the third film. Overall this is a simple but fun film that shouldn’t be taken too seriously.



Celestial has made good job with this region 3 release. Mandarin audio souds good and the picture quality is stunning for a film made in the 60’s. Not much to offer when it comes to extras though. Only available in a box set with the other two films (as far as I know).



Film: 7/10

DVD: 8/10

Extras: 4/10


#10

can you guys add some lilttle info on the DVD/VCD as well? that would be good. i saw that contrai didnt add any dvd info


#11

Tea House [ 1974 ]

Director: Kuei Chi Hung

Actors: Chen Kuan Tai, Karen Yeh, Lau Ng Kei, Tung Lam, Yeung Chi Hing, Chan Shen, Kong Yeung, Ha Ping, Fan Mei Sheng



Action drama, sometimes dissonant and at the end somehow unsatisfactory, but with enough strong scenes. It’s about Wang Cheng [ Chen Kuan Tai ], the owner of the Tea House, and his trouble with the gangs around and also the rather bothering police.



The plot is too episodic, with the only connection that a customer or a coworker of the Tea House is involved in the individual stories, and the movie is also undetermined between drama and comedy, what leads to some strange and fizzle scenes.

Example: An underage guy tries to convict the judge, to arrest him, but the judge is waffling about the bad social states and non-decent eduaction by the parents. In the next scene a girl is driven to death, her brother goes berserk on the street, killing 2 guys. Next scene we get a comedy about cheating the social welfare office.

Later the plot is about Cheng dealing also with crimimals, of course his intentions are good, but at the end his actions are coming back, the gangster devaste his Tea House.

This scene is shot in a long slowmotion, the ravage is celebrated visually and also acoustic, it’s one of the very awe-inspiring sequences, the movie has a lot of.

Between them it’s a little coasting, it never gets boring, but some points are really unnecessary.

And the limitation on a major place like a Tea House is some kind of unrealistic, imagine a Scorsese Pic about Starbucks becoming Vigilante Force.



There isn’t really Martial Arts in it btw, and the end is quite unsatisfactory, but there’s the sequel Big Brother Cheng.



7,5/10







-----------------------



ps: i’ve it on vcd…picture quality is quite good, but it’s not dvd…a little unsharp perhaps…missing more contrast…

as for the dvd: [quote]The digitally restored print has vibrant colors, moderately high resolution, and is only slightly low in contrast. The two Chinese audio tracks have been re-mastered, while the white, English subtitles are well done and easy to read. Navigation on the DVD is mildly cumbersome.[/quote]


#12

Death Duel [ 1977 ]

Director: Chu Yuan

Actors: Derek Yee Tung-Sing, Ling Yun, David Chiang, Chan Si Gaai, Lau Luk Wa, Nancy Yen, Ti Lung, Lo Lieh, Yueh Hua, Ku Feng, Candice Yu , Fan Mei Sheng



Pleasing purposeful and taut Swordsplay - movie based on stories by Gu Long, about the supremacy of the Jiang Hu. Third master [ Derek Yee ] is the #1 at the moment , considered as the best sword fighter, but he’s tired of his way of life, pretends his death and begins a simple life. Too early for Yen Shi kwan [ Ling Yun ], who aimed the whole life for fame and the answer if he could be the real #1.



Death Duel is a little different from other Gu Long movies directed also by Chu Yuan, no obscure jumble of plot and persons here, it’s strictly concentrated oh Third Master and his tries to survive the power struggle, where he’s attacked again and again.

The then 20yrs old Derek Yee [ now director of movies like One Nite in Mongkok, Viva Erotica, Full Throttle ] does a strong impression, mainly optically and particulary with his mimic, and performs the action sequences well.

These are well choreographed, unbloody swordsplay with martial arts and jumps varied, there’s also good use of the environment

Optically the film is rather lyric - magical, many red and blue contrasts, much fog, added a calm, but appropriate score. Really entertaining 90mins.



Movie has some relation to the other Gu Long picturizations like Killer Clans and Magic Blade, Ti Lung has a cameo as his Swordsman Fu and Lo Lieh as the killer Han Tang.



7,5/10



DVD: non-anamorphic , digitally restored , looks very sharp. Re-mastered Dolby Digital sound is available on both Mandarin and Cantonese tracks. Removable subtitles are available in Both traditional and simplified Chinese, English, Bahasa Malaysian, and Bahasa Indonesian. The English subtitles contain a couple of minor grammatical errors.


#13

Police Force [ 1973 ]

Directors: Chang Cheh, Choi Yeung Ming

Actors: Wang Chung, Lily Li Li-Li, Alexander Fu Sheng, Huang Ha, Wong Hap, Wong Kwong Yue, Tino Wong Cheung, Fung Hak On, Bruce Tong Yim Chaan, Lau Kar Wing, Yen Shi-Kwan, Tung Lam



Liang Kuan [ Alexander Fu Sheng ] is killed during a robbery; his girlfriend Shen Yan [ Lily Li ] and best buddy Huang Gao-tung [ Wang Chung ] are seeking for revenge. 5 yrs later Huang is a promoted cop, he fought hundreds of criminals, but the very special guy isn’t found yet. Till now…



Very solid, but too experienced [ or even - tempered ] 70ies action crime movie, a little frumpy , less violence for a Chang Cheh pic and less modern action scenes, more on pure martial arts.

The most interesting and dramatic points in the script are hardly scratched; Huang is fallen in love with Shen Yan, but she’s only for vengeance. You don’t know, what happened the last 5 yrs to them and their friendship and what Huang is thinking. Instead the moral conflict between revenge and task of the police is shown, unusual for Chang Cheh, who’s just out for revenge in his other movies.



Police Force was set as 1 of the first police crime movies in HK, and got full support of the police; the production really looks quite impressing coz of that.

Realism isn’t the main thing, mostly in favor of the action: Huang alone rushes into danger to single-handedly tackle at least 20 thugs.and he isn’t using his gun, so…

These sequences are well filmed, but nothing special, too static and slightly non-effective. And it’s Karate, not Kung Fu.



Acting is quite good, especially by Wang Chung in a rare leading role; Fung Hak On is unfortunately underused.

Fu Sheng has 1 of his first screen moments here, a short but important one.



Slightly above average, I expected a more gritty, more excessive movie.



6/10



DVD: fully restored , looks very crisp, if a little low in contrast. The original Mandarin audio is re-mastered and sounds clear. Some of the foley effects are a little sloppy, notably the cheering crowd at the martial arts tournament and a splash that sounds a second before a thug hits the water. The removable English subtitles are easy to read and understand.


#14

Golden Lotus [ 1974 ]

Director: Li Han Hsiang

Actors: Peter Yang Kwan, Hu Chin, Chan Ping, Tim Lei, Chiang Nan, Tin Ching, Dean Shek, Ha Ping, Lau Ng Kei, Lau Wai Ling, Jackie Chan



Highclass - Soap Opera for adults.

The Golden Lotus was written by Hou Hui in Ming Dynasty,the first river novel despcribing the domestic affairs in China.Its content is:there is a local tyrant named Xi Menqing [ Peter Yang Kwan ] .He is good at gambling and fond of women.In his life,he has tens of wives including Pan Jinlian [ Hu Chin ], wife of Wu Da who is brother of Wu Song,one of the heroes in Water Margin.Xi Menqing uses all kinds of means to get women,to persecute populace and to bribe officials.At last,he dies of overlechery.



Movie is less dramatic and little shallow, due to the fact, that Xi Menqing ist only portrayed as sex maniac,you don’t get to see his other “functions” as warlord or businessman, so his life is just bedding women and treating them bad. His intrigues are without consequences for him, it’s an easy game to get the women and desert them later. So the movie is hanging from affair to affair , with some perverse - absurd sex practices; the rest is a visually feast, clinking - smashing decors and sets.



In the first 30mins you get a short - concise performance of a slippy supporting actor , later known as Jackie Chan, who is quite good and natural in his role.



[ “Golden Lotus” is a term from the history of foot-binding , around 950 AD, the beginning of the Song Dynasty. The girl’s feet were bound tightly with a 15-foot bandage, which forced the four small toes inward and under the sole. The large toe was left free. Then the heel and toe were drawn forcefully, breaking the arch. A foot that had been bound exceptionally well, a “golden lotus,” would usually measure only 3 inches. Pan Jinlian has a “Golden Lotus” ]


#15

The New One-Armed Swordsman (1971)



Director: Chang Cheh

Cast: David Chiang, Ti Lung, Ku Feng



The New One-Armed Swordsman is a new adaptation of the same theme as the first One-Armed Swordsman film. All the characters are new and so are the actors. Instead of Jimmy Wang Yu we have David Chiang in the lead. He not quite as charismatic as Jimmy Wang but I was still surprised how good he was. Chiang manages to portray a man who hides his true feelings but suffers internally. Ti Lung, who plays an important part in the story, is not bad either, though there’s nothing really special in his performance.



The story in pretty simple but just like in the first film there’s some interesting characterization focusing on our tragic main character. The original film was still better when it came to this matter. What’s new is the portrayal of friendship between Chiang’s and Lung’s characters. This is actually very similiar to what we would later see on John Woo’s films like The Killer. (btw, Woo once worked for Chang Cheh as assistant director, and Woo’s films are highly influenced by Cheh’s work).



This films real strong point is action.There’s a good amount of action scenes and they are superb. The New One-Armed Swordsman has some of the coolest swordplay I have ever seen in movies. Fights are fast fast-paced and the films overall bodycount is incredible. Our hero fights his way trough hundreds of enemies. Even though there is a small (really small actually) amout of wire work, this film purely concentrates on physical performances.



The movie also features exceptionally great soundtrack. If you are looking for a for a super cool Shaw Bros. film with a killer soundtrack this film is an excellent choice. The music, the action and the visual look make The New One-Armed Swordsman my favourite Shaw film so far. That doesn’t mean that this movie would be without flaws. Many of the films characters are very simple, and the plot is nothing to get excited over. But those things can’t prevent this movie from being a damn enjoyable piece of action cinema.



Celestial dvd is top-notch. Mandarin soundtrack with good english subs. The anamorphic picture looks exellent. You rarely see films this old looking this good. Not much to offer when it comes to extras: just text info, picture galleries and trailers. (Note: I’m probably giving extras too high rating (4). This is mostly because often you don’t get anything when it comes to HK dvds, so I appreciate that we get at least something with Celestial releases.)



Film: 9/10

DVD: 8/10

Extars: 4/10


#16

THE 36TH CHAMBER OF SHAOLIN

Director: Liu Chia-Liang

Actors: Liu Chia Hui, Lo Lieh, Wang Yu, Yu Yang





The 36th Chamber of Shaolin is one of the most famous Shaw Brothers film in history. Famous in the US under the dubious title “Shaolin Master Killer” this movie gained enourmous fame back when it came out as one of the greatest Shaolin Kung Fu epics on celluloid.

The great Lui Chia Hui (aka Gordon Lui) plays the son of a fish salesman who gets entangled in a rebellion against tartarian oppressors. He is forced to take refuge in the Shaolin Temple, wounded. He is determined to aquire the martial arts of the Shaolin monks, and thanks to his motivation he succeeds in mastering all 35 chambers of Shaolin Kung Fu, each chamber dealing with a special skill of the Shaolin arts. He turns out as a real prodigy and soon advances to be the head monk among the disciples.

He chooses to set out to the world and help the oppressed by recruiting new Shaolin monks from the people, against the will of the abbot. In a personal tour of revenge he surrounds himself with a gang of willing youngsters and fights the oppressors in town. Thanks to his success he is allowed to teach common people at Shaolin temple from then on.



This movie is the one who got me interested in Shaoling Kung Fu and all the myth surrounding it back when I was a kid. It is one of the most spectacular chinese boxing movies ever made in my opinion. The beautiful directing and photography makes this one look especially precious. The actors do their outmost to perform their roles and the story does the rest.

What fascinates me and what makes this one so special is the love for detail. The movie takes all time in the world to tell the story of the chambers, how the student masters each chamber, how he fails, succeeds and advances. How the, to the surprise of the masters, develops even his own weapon, a 2-joint (3-bars) staff which he develops as his personal fighting style. And in the end you see him use every technique he aquired in the chambers.



An impressively told story about the legend of Shaolin, a Kung Fu film par excellence and one of the most important works of the Shaws. Highly recommended and a must see.



The DVD boasts a very nice cleaned up transfer (enhanced for 16:9) and remastered sound in both mandarin and cantonese (both in 5.1 even). The packaging artwork is of high quality and there are even some extras on the disc that inform about the film and the Shaolin legend. Also some trailers and pictures are included. The English subtitles are very good although would they not withstand a grammar test.



Film 5/5

DVD 3/5

Picture 4/5

Sound 4/5

Extras 2/5

(ratings considering the age of the material)



Summary: An outstanding job from Celestial Pictures for this DVD and the film is top notch


#17

Boxer from Shantung [ 1972 ]

Directors: Chang Cheh, Pao Hsueh Li

Actors: Chen Kuan Tai, Ching Li, Ku Feng ,Tin Ching, David Chiang, Wong Ching, Mario Milano, Fung Hak On, Wang Chung, Chiang Nan, Yen Shi-Kwan, Tyrone Hsu Hsia,

Cheng Hong Yip , Fung Ngai, Lee Man Tai



Occasionally too ropy Eastern about the rising of Ma Yongzhen [ Chen Kuan Tai, in the german title he’s giving a pirat, not a boxer ] , who hast to recognize later, the air up there is quite thin.

The formal datas of the movie are quite impressing: John Woo as assistent director, Chen Kuan Tai became one the Top Actors thru it,

it’s with King Boxer and Fist of Fury one of THE influential movies of the time, followed by a somehow sequel [ Iron Man ] and a remake [ Corey Yuen Kwai’s Hero, with Takeshi Kaneshiro and the then-comeback of Yuen Biao ].



An epic is aimed, the premise is well, but due to the missing pace and the lacking dramatic and elaboration it isn’t reached. The action scenes are either rigid or way too exaggerated, and some sequences could have been cut; a lenght of 2hrs is too much for that.

For example the Wrestling epsiode, which is terribly long, but also some sections with Ching Li as eyecatcher and secret love interest of Ma Yongzhen, which adds nothing at all to the film.

So there’s only struggle to the next, the opponents are always increasing, Ma himself is little impressed by that. At the end he runs around a tea house, collapsing it and beating the shit out of estimated 200 thugs, and already has an axe cut in his belly. Thats too silly.



Movie has sure his strengths, production values is as high as the bodycount, Chen Kuan Tai does very well in his first leading role, there’s an expanded cameo of David Chiang and the gangster story is something new, compared to the usual revenge - plot.

The prologue and epilogue are quite fine, between them is a good film, but not an outstanding one.



6/10



dvd: print is fully restored and virtually flawless, rich color & sharp clarity. original Mandarin audio remastered with new sound layers, and some unnecessary effects . removable English subtitles are easy to read and contain more major grammatical error.


#18

Looks like Contrai was faster than me, I was writing a review of the same film when he posted his. Well, I have a slightly different opinion of the film so here it goes.



Boxer from Shantung (1972)




Boxer from Shantung is a martial arts gangster drama set in the 1930’s. Chen Kuan-tai (in his first leading role) plays Ma Yongzhen, a homeless man trying to make a living in the streets of Shanghai. In a city ruled by gangsters Ma realizes his supreme fighting skills might help him out from the poverty.



I was positively surprised to find out how good story Boxer From Shantung had. The main character evolves through out the film. At the end of the story he has became a totally different kind of man than what he is in the beginning. The film might not hold up if it was a serious drama without any action, but as a martial arts film it manages to be highly entertaining even outside action scenes. This is not a film that you watch only for action. To me Boxer From Shantung was like The Godfather: Part 2 of Kung Fu.



Chen Kuan-tai is very good in the lead. He manages to make his character feel more of a real person than of a typical martial arts hero. Kuan-tai gets the audience to actually care about his character. Another nice performance comes from David Chiang who plays a local gangster boss. Chiang’s acting may not win him any awards but he’s so charming and cool that you really can’t help but to like him. Other actors are not so special but everybody’s doing good job and nobody takes it over the top. That’s important as the films tone is rather serious and could easily be ruined by bad acting. There’s practicly no humour either, which is a good thing in film like this.



Fight scenes are very nice even though I don’t consider the choreography to be as great as in Bruce Lee’s films made at same time. Fights look stunning as the hero fights alone against dozens of opponents. The final fight, which is as gory as you would expect from Chang Cheh, reminds a bit of Kill Bill’s Crazy 88 scene. Chen Kuan-tai’s strong screen presence also helps to make the fights more intense.



There’s only one real flaw in Boxer From Shantung: it’s a bit too long (126 min). The film never gets boring but it would work even better if it was a bit shorter. Other than that Boxer From Shantung works really well. This film can be recommended not only to fans of martial arts films but also to people who like more story-oriented action films.



Celestial R3 release offers stunning transfer for this classic. The sound quality is otherwise fine but there are some new added sound effects. That didn’t bother me though. Subtitles are not perfect but understandable. Basic extras again (trailers, info’s and picture galleries).



Film: 8/10

DVD: 8/10 (if the new sound effects don’t bother you)

Extras: 4/10


#19

nobody said only one review per film.

i’d like somebody see top my review of the 36th chamber :slight_smile:


#20

Martial Arts of Shaolin (1985)

(aka Shaolin Temple 3)



Director: Lau Kar-leung

Cast: Jet Li, Hu Jian-qiang, Huang Qiu-yan



Martial Arts of Shaolin is a simple and light hearted martial arts film starring Jet Li. Even though it is a revenge story there’s no such brutality on intensity that dominated Lau Kar-leung’s 1983 masterpeace The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter. Martial Arts of Shaolin is much more typical Lau Kar-leung film with plenty of humour and practicly no gore. Jet Li stars as a Shaolin Monk planning to revenge his father.



Martial Arts of Shaolin features some exellent scenes but the film is far from the directors best work. The biggest problem is the story and the characters. The movies plot is as simple as they come. Li and his two friends try to kill an evil warlord, and that’s all. None of the characters evolve in any way during the movie. Even bigger problem is that some of the films characters are more or less irritating. I don’t know if Jet Li actually can act, but he sure ain’t doing anything that could be called ’acting’ in this film. He looks unbelievable in action but otherwise he is very close of becaming just irritating. Bad humour doesn’t help either. The scene where Li disguises himself as a helpless woman is almost unwatchable.



But Martial Arts of Shaolin is not all bad. First of all it has some really good fight scenes. Oddly Li doesn’t get quite as much screen time in action scenes as he would deserve. At least one third of fights concentrate on someone else fightign than Li. But when Li gets to show his talent the serious fun starts. The ending fight is really great, even it’s a bit too short. Martial Arts of Shaolin also features some really beautiful outdoor landscapes. That combined with a nice soundrack help this film a lot. There’s still a couple of dead moments but most of the time the film remains somewhat entertaining.



Martial Arts of Shaolin has many good things in it but overall it’s an average kung fu film at best. Both Lau Kar-Leung and Jet Li have done a lot better movies. Nice fights and a couple of other good scenes make this move worth rental, maybe even worth buying if you can get it for cheap. It has many flaws but in the end it leaves you with a positive feeling.



Celestial R3 DVD is a great quality release once again. Picture (anamorphic 2.35:1) looks stunning. Mandarin and Cantonese soundtrack (I can’t be sure if there’s any new sound effects, I didn’t notice anything myself) with english subtitles. Subs are otherwise good but they are done for the mandarin track, meaning that sometimes there’s a line or two that’s not translated. Nothing too disturbing. Normal Celestial extras plus nice menus.



Film: 5/10

DVD: 8/10

Extras: 4/10