Blog Archives

Dirty Ho (1979)

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Dirty Ho‘s title may inspire sniggering from the back of the class, nowadays, but it’s a very different film than you’d think: the film does open inside a brothel (a floating one, no less!), but the Ho of the title is a male thief and kungfu practitioner (played by Wong Yue), and his dirtiness is conferred by a poisoned wound he receives early in the film. So, if you’re after something more like The Golden Lotus, I’d suggest … (read more)

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Exploitations from the Far East (DVD box set) (1975)

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As they did with their Wuxia box set, Siren Visual have put together a set of five films from the Shaw Brothers with similar themes, packaging them up in rather a nice-looking box set with new artwork and menus on all the discs. This one’s rather less high-minded than the tales of chivalry and heroism in the last one, though — it’s a box of Shaws’ less salubrious fare from the late 70s and early 80s, when they moved … (read more)

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The Wuxia Stories: Heroes of Ancient China (DVD box set) (1970)

Now that Siren have a large catalogue of releases from the celebrated Shaw Brothers studio in Hong Kong, they’ve started boxing them up into box sets, all the better to tempt you with. Wuxia Stories is the first one, showcasing five films from Shaws’ prolific swordplay director Chu Yuen and one from Cheng Kang, father of action director Ching Siu Tung.

For those readers who aren’t aware of it, wuxia refers to a particular genre of Chinese film and literature, … (read more)

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The Lizard (1972)

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In a departure from the wuxia/swordplay films that he’s best known for, in The Lizard director Chor Yuen brings us a period action film set in 1930s Shanghai. In a city full of wealthy foreigners and corrupt officials, a mysterious figure in black known only as The Lizard flits among the rooftops, stealing from those who don’t deserve their wealth and giving to those in need. Though a hero to the common people, the Lizard is a thorn in … (read more)

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The 14 Amazons (1972)

The 14 Amazons is one of those films in which Shaw Brothers pulled out all the stops: it’s got a huge cast, quite a bit of location shooting, an epic story and some huge melee battle scenes. Though many would assume from the title that it’s got either a strong feminist or exploitative slant, it’s got neither: instead, it’s a straight tale of heroism and determination that just happens to be centered around a family of women.

Their menfolk are … (read more)

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Shaolin Hand Lock (1978)

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David Chiang (who seems to have become rather a staple of my DVD viewing of late, for some reason) returns to the martial arts genre with this film, from rather prolific Shaws director Ho Meng-hua. Also in the mix are Lo Lieh, perennial Shaws actor, and Michael Chan (Chen Hui-min), who’s still acting today, most recently in Enter the Phoenix, The Spy Dad and You Shoot, I Shoot.

Our story follows (naturally) David Chiang’s character, a young man … (read more)

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The Magic Blade (1976)

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This is a hard film to write a synopsis for — while every word of the one above is true, it doesn’t really do The Magic Blade justice. While directors Chang Cheh and Lau Kar-leung were making the transition from the swordplay and wuxia films with traditional actors to kung-fu films with actors trained in martial arts, Chor Yuen made a long series of films based on the novels of Ku Lung. These are proper wuxia films, but with more … (read more)

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Death Duel (1977)

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Oh, look, it’s another brightly-coloured Chu Yuan fantasy swordplay film, like the squillions of other ones he made for Shaw Brothers — except that this one has a number of features that make it a little different, and a bit of a surprise as well. Made in 1977, this film stars Derek Yee (David Chiang’s younger brother, and director of 2004’s great One Nite in Mongkok) as Third Master, reputedly the number one swordsman in the world. His stature … (read more)

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