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The Young Master (1980)

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Something adorable happens when an imaginative kid is asked to tell a story. The child’s eyes light up, lungs are audibly inflated, and then —

“Alice woke up and left home with her best hat which was blue to go to the vet because her cat hurt its paw and on the way she saw her friend riding a new bike but before she could catch him he turned a corner and then she decided to borrow her sister’s rollerskates … (read more)

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The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1983)

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As the Shaw Brothers film studio business was winding down, resulting in an output of lesser quality than the preceding decades, The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter burst forth, a bellowing send-off for both a voluminous cycle of movies and a star who died too young. Bursting with vigour and capturing much of what made the studio and director famous, it never settles for imitating the past, still refining techniques and pushing new ideas.

This is not immediately evident as the … (read more)

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Shaolin Mantis (1978)

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Arguably the best film director for traditional style kung-fu action, Liu Chia-liang (a.k.a. Lau Kar-leung) was a pioneer in exploring authentic martial arts technique and training procedures in kung-fu films. So although David Chiang is a kung-fu veteran, it’s no wonder that in The Shaolin Mantis, where he plays a man who learns martial arts from a praying mantis then seeks revenge for his wife’s death, the movie features some of his best kung-fu fights to date. — (from … (read more)

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Challenge Of The Masters (1976)

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I’ve been watching mostly Shaw Brothers films for the last couple of weeks, digging through some lesser-known stuff looking for the glint of gold. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything all that good: sure, there were nice sets and costumes in some, and some interesting comedic characters… but most of what I’ve seen recently has felt sloppy and empty for the most part, not developing characters I cared about and occasionally presenting slow, creaky action scenes that looked like pantomimes.

So, … (read more)

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