Chang Cheh was one of Shaw Brothers’ most iconic directors. Working from the late 50s into the 90s, he was extremely prolific (more than a hundred films, eight films in one year at his peak in 1974) and, along with action maestro Lau Kar-Leung, he can claim a large chunk of the credit for Shaws’ reputation as a martial arts film powerhouse. Heavily influenced by Kurosawa’s samurai pictures and Leone’s spaghetti westerns, he brought a dramatic, blood-spattered intensity to Shaws’ … (read more)
You would be hard pressed to find a Shaw Brothers film more well-known internationally than The Five Venoms. It’s garnered a huge fanbase as a cult film over the years, inspiring everyone from rap supergroup the Wu-Tang clan to cult filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. Released in 1978, it fuses elements of the older swordplay and wuxia films that Shaws produced for many years with the harder, more realistic action sequences that came with the kung fu films of the late … (read more)
The Trail of the Broken Blade is a relatively early swordplay film for both its director, celebrated king of masculine action films Chang Cheh, and its leading man, Jimmy Wang Yu. Wang Yu went on to play his signature roles of the antihero in Golden Swallow and the one-armed swordsman in, er, The One-Armed Swordsman, and this movie foreshadows many of the elements in those later films.
Jimmy Wang Yu plays Li Yueh, the scion of a noble family … (read more)
This film certainly made my jaw drop, mostly for all the right reasons. I spent many, many moments trying to reconcile extremely important questions such as; is that scrawny squirt with a permanent smirk on his face really David Chiang?
And was Ti Lung really that cool and not to mention ravishing in a Mongolian warrior get-up? It wasn’t that I didn’t know David Chiang, Ti Lung and many others were in Chang Cheh’s films, I guess I just wasn’t … (read more)
Popular Shaw Brothers babes Ti Lung and David Chiang star in yet another Chang Cheh film about fraternal love, Duel of Fists. This came runner up to The Big Boss in the 1971 Hong Kong box office, but it’s much better.
Chang Cheh keeps things very simple in terms of plot, leaving as much room as possible for the action—on his fathers dying wish, Fan Ko (David Chiang) goes to Thailand to find his brother Wen Leih (Ti Lung), … (read more)
Chang Cheh’s films with the “Venoms” crew of actors and action choreographers are amongst his most famous. Justifiably so, too — these guys do their thing well, with some amazing fight sequences that show off a variety of styles and some complex choreography.
Two Champions of Shaolin is set at the beginning of the Qing dynasty and focuses on the two dominant schools of martial arts, Shaolin and Wu Tang. Wu Tang supports the Qing government, while the Shaolin school … (read more)
All Men Are Brothers is another huge Chang Cheh-directed production from Shaws when they were at the height of their powers, with just about all their action stars and four of their action choreographers (including my favourite, Lau Kar Leung). It picks up its story from the same source as The Water Margin and doesn’t go to much trouble introducing the characters… so you’re advised to watch The Water Margin first, so you know why David Chiang has his own … (read more)