Sunday, April 24, 2011
Written by Cheh Chang, Kuang Ni
Directed by Cheh Chang
Produced by The Shaw Brothers
Starring Philip Kwok, Tien Hsiang Lung, Feng Lu, Sheng Chiang, Li Wang, Tai-Ping Yu
After a fight in which their chief is literally stabbed in the back, the Iron Flag Clan elects a new chief. Because of that fight, one of the senior members must go on the lam. During his time in exile, he learns that things were not what they seemed when he left. He returns to do some more fighting.
This was considerably more entertaining than the last Shaw Brothers picture I watched. It also makes me that much more annoyed by Tony Jaa.
The acting was generally not bad and the direction was about even for the era. The story was reasonably decent; and I didn't think I had figured out the whole thing until about the 60-minute mark... but even then there were some little twists up to the finish line. I could also see some things here which directly influenced Kill Bill and that's cool because it allows me to feel good about my fandom for Tarantino: His is the far superior story.
But the various styles of kung fu on display were definitely a cut above the 80s-era martial arts fare which has been exhibited on our television recently (maybe even going back to 37 Chambers....) There were some really cool weapons and techniques; and the fights themselves--both choreography and execution--were a lot of fun. There's far less repetition in the style and movement than some of the other Shaw movies. Also, either the Shaw Brothers have the greatest film vault in the world or this movie underwent a SERIOUS restoration effort.
So, a better-than-average Shaw kung fu movie. Do with that what you will.