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Category — Shaw Bros.

Great Scenes – TREASURE HUNTERS

Lau Kar Wing‘s Treasure Hunters (aka Master of Disaster, 1981) is an interesting beast – directed by younger brother of Kung Fu Legend (and IOC fave) Lau Kar Leung (see here & here) and written by wacky Great Scenes veteran Wong Jing (here here and here), it’s a festival of fu that’s a family affair all the way round – just in time for the holidays! Wing – who would later become a frequent collaborator of Sammo Hung – wasn’t nearly as prolific or epic as his brother, content with being an actor and choreographer, but of his Shaw Brothers output as director this is by far the best, largely due to this scene – one of the great WTF fights ever! Featuring Yeung Jing Jing as a mute hit-woman, über-villain Wang Lung Wei and perpetual-monk Gordon Lau, it’s highlighted by the pairing of charismatic Fu Sheng (who would die tragically 2 years later) with real-life brother Cheung Chin Pang. You can tell they’re having a fantastic time, and it’s infectious – once you get past the very broad comedy and crazy musical cues. Happy Holidays![admin note: the poster on IMDB page erroneously features Moon Lee and Jackie Chan‘s face, and looks to be a poster for an altogether different movie!]

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December 22, 2011   No Comments

Great Scenes – BELLS OF DEATH

Sorry for the recent lack of posts – heavy workload been weighing down on me. But until we can return to our normal dependable pace, enjoy this scene from a stylish, little-seen Wu Xia from director Feng Yueh, 1968’s The Bells of Death. Featuring fantastic direction, stylized characters – including a bad guy with a flat nose and awesome tic (played by Tin Sam) – and some unique touches throughout, it’s definitely worth your time. Check out how the candles become a clever device in this duel scene, to not only add some tension to what would otherwise be standard swordplay, but to also motivate the lighting, as little spotlights travel around the room as if cast by the candles themselves. Oh yeah – and you gotta love the requisite filmed-in-reverse moments (which help actor Chang Yi accomplish the otherwise impossible feat) that are a staple of every good Shaw Bros. film.

 

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September 19, 2011   No Comments

Great Scenes – BUDDHA’S PALM

Director Taylor Wong brings you Buddha’s Palm (1982) – the lighter side of insanity – a heady concoction of the greatest things film has to offer: the lovely Kara Hui, exploding heads, melted faces, dueling wizards, a telescoping-limb “foot-monster,” bad English subtitles, a symbiotic kung-fu giant and a white haired, puss-spewing midget (known as the “Dragon Tumor Duo”), and your standard issue high-wire shenanigans and neon lightning bolts drawn directly onto the celluloid. And that’s within these 4 and a half minutes (!) I’ve selected, so you can imagine what the rest of the flick is like. Try hard not to watch the scene over and over again – it may adversely affect you.

 

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August 29, 2011   No Comments

Baroque Kung Fu – FIVE DEADLY VENOMS

FIVE DEADLY VENOMS is a genre classic, but not for the reasons you think.

Part whodunnit, part horror film, with a pinch of Mexican wrestling thrown in for good measure, Chang Cheh‘s Five Deadly Venoms (1978) is a film that’s earned a reputation as a must-see for people interested in exploring Kung Fu cinema. The tale of a Kung Fu Master who dispatches his last student to discover which of his past pupils – Centipede, Snake, Scorpion, Lizard or Toad – is putting the clan’s special Poison skills to evil use (imagine that!), it’s a movie which features more sidelong glances, suspicious ducking down alleyways, and guessing games than it does actual martial arts. But despite the fact that it fails to wow in the action department, Five Deadly Venoms ultimately proves to be a thoroughly entertaining affair which grows on you with repeated viewings, thanks to director Chang Cheh’s knack for “borrowing” from other directors. Here he seems to be channeling Mario Bava, creating a palpable dread whose color scheme feels like the Kung Fu version of Planet of the Vampires – at once both colorful and grey – and whose violent passages feel sublimely campy and overwrought. What little kung-fu there is is first rate, the pedigree and skills of the cast – tough guy Lo Meng, strongman Lu Feng, nimble Chiang Sheng, superkicker Sun Chien, and all-around bad ass Philip Kwok – never in question. It’s just that there isn’t that much of it, by Shaw Brothers standards. While the earlier films of director Chang Cheh (The One Armed Swordsman trilogy, Shaolin Temple, Heroes Two) were loaded with innovative martial arts, by the late seventies – following the departure of choreographer Lau Kar Leung to begin a directing career of his own (36th Chamber of Shaolin, Dirty Ho, 8 Diagram Pole Fighter) – the action began to dwindle and become over-reliant on weird machismo, cartoonish violence, and fancy acrobatics. But despite this, there are incredible sets, crazy costumes with iconic masks, and ridiculous plot twists to keep you occupied, and when the five styles of venomous animals are on display it’s as if you’re watching a heady mix of 1960’s TV Batman by way of Kung Fu Panda. It might not be the best martial arts film in “godfather of Kung Fu fimmaking” Chang Cheh’s career – which spanned nearly a hundred films – but Five Deadly Venoms is nevertheless a one-of-a-kind cult classic any fan of filmdom should experience.

And hey lookee here- the movie available in its entirety!

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June 13, 2011   2 Comments

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