Sunday, July 29, 2012

Reviews of Famous Martial Arts Movies - Shaolin Rescuers

"Shaolin Rescuers" or "The Avenging Warriors of Shaolin" was released a few days before "Kid with a Golden Arm", and is one of the best of Chang Cheh. The total Venom's mob was cast and they put in incredible shows in this story of valor and friendship. This film had been outclassed by 2 movies by Liu Chia Liang - "Mad Monkey Kung Fu" and "Dirty Ho" - released by Shaw Brothers during 1979 but "Shaolin Rescuers" massively out-grossed"Fist and Guts" and "Dragon Fist".

The three important characters played in the movie were by Kuo Chi (Philip Kwok), Sun Chein and Lo Meng. Lu Feng and Chiang Sheng were cast for important supporting characters. Lu Feng and Chaing Sheng choreographed the entire movie and were ably supported by Robert Tai. The role of a Chinese hero was given to Jason Pai Piao and Hung Sze Kwan also played an important role in the movie.

The plot of the movie goes like this. Ah Chien (Lo Meng) works ata local bean-curd industry and has a good friend in the form of Ying Cha-Po (Kuo Chi) who is a waiter at an eatery. Both are victim of ill-treatment from their bosses and their favorite time pass is practicing Kung Fu. One day they save Chu Tsai (Sun Chein) during a brawl. Tsai is employed at a dye firm and is also an exponent on post fighting on the ground.

The problems begin when San Te and Fong Sai Yuk are killed when they try to stop the evil Pai Mei from destroying temples around the city. Not a clever way to initiate a movie by killing two greatest figures in the world of Kung Fu, one might say. But, nothing was impossible for Chang Cheh.

The story slowly evolves with the escape of Hung Sze Kwan, Chein finally getting hold of injured Kwan and Chein help him get well and the final face-off in the dye-factory. At the end of the movie, Ah Chein and Ying Cha-Po fulfill their dreams of becoming heroes.

The action sequences in the movies are few but Chang Cheh demonstrates how to build an amazing climax out of a power-packed plot. Remarkably, the action sequences are less bloody when compared to other Cheh's movies. The action scenes are beautifully choreographed and Lu Feng and Chang Sheng proved once again why they were the best in the business when it came to creating dream action sequences.

Chang Cheh creates a fantastic balance by moving from one fight to another in a prudent manner. Excellent editing makes certain that one is enthralled with a fight and still itching to get back to the last fight scene. One feels that the movie should have been shown on five different TV sets. The climax is unexpected. The only supposed flaw was the time-to-time use of flashback shots and the trampoline skills by Kuo Chi. This is probably one of the best Chang Cheh movies ever.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reviews of Famous Martial Arts Movies - The Duel

"The Duel" is more of a canvas soaked in blood rather than a movie and it is filled with moments of rage and bloody encounters, filling each scene in the movie with decisive death blows and displays of ultimate fury. Directed by the legendary Chang Cheh under the Shaw Brothers banner, the dialogues and the conversations between the characters in the movie seem to be an excuse to move from one bloody encounter to another. Apart from the mindless butt-kicking, "The Duel" also touches the sensitive topic of corrupted politicians and politics, thus forcing the protagonist to over-ride the law at all points to take down a bunch of power- hungry politicians trying to destroy peace and harmony.

The opening scene shows Tan Jen-chieh (Ti Lung) getting a huge butterfly tattoo drawn onto his chest, as a show of his affection for Hue-dieh (Ping Wang). But the happiness doesn't last forever, as Tan gets involved in a war between his gangster grandfather and a fierce rival. Chang Cheh tries to create a western impact with such a violent crescendo as a gang of assassins stroll down the streets butchering innocents. When knives and swords start being thrown meaninglessly, "The Duel"transforms itself into a cinematic butchering playground, bursting arteries and cutting through bellies as if there is no tomorrow. The screen is filled with carnage, bashed up faces, torn shirts and blood.This blood bath results in the exile of Tan and his grandfather getting murdered.

"The Duel" is violent although the climax reveals the director's honest attempt to take on the political world. Tan ultimately takes down each and every bad guy in a bloodbath. However, the evil Senator manages to escape the punishment. Chang shows that no matter what the degree of violence is, it will not be able to vanquish the real masterminds manipulating the government. This was a well realized fact and was beautifully presented in the climax of the movie. Instead of letting the bruised and battered protagonists stand upright at the end of the movie; Chang shows them trying to stand up and surprisingly freezes the frame. This was done probably to show the shadow of mortality looming on all mankind, no matter who they are. The battle against mortality can never be won, no matter how good you are at Kung Fu.

The glamour that is usually associated with Shaw Brothers is very evident throughout the movie, more during the numerous bloody scenes. All other colors have been used brilliantly throughout and the audience is left spell bound at one point. Quality sound, which is a vital factor for the success of a Kung Fu film, is amazing throughout the movie. The screams, slices and the gushing blood leave a long lasting impression on the minds of the audience.