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Heroes Two (1974)

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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)

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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 Master (1980)

The Master is a later kung-fu flick, made in 1980 by director Lu Chin-Ku. It stars a young actor named Yuen Tak in his first film and several Shaw Brothers veterans, notably Chen Kuan-tai and Johnny Wang Lung-wei. Though the focus is on the action scenes, particularly in the second half of the film, it’s obvious that the director has taken note of the introduction of comedy to the genre — wide-eyed slapstick and sproing-oing-oing noises are rather common until … (read more)

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All Men Are Brothers (1973)

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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)

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The Water Margin (1972)

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The Water Margin is big. Really, really big. Even for a Shaw Brothers production directed by Chang Cheh at the height of his popularity, it’s huge. Involving just about all of the action stars on the Shaws payroll at the time, enormous sets, lots of outdoor shots and four action choreographers, it really does show off the ‘house style’ that Shaw Brothers are famous for.

The film is an adaptation of a small part of the Chinese classic of the … (read more)

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The Blood Brothers (1973)

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This is one of the seminal martial arts flicks of the industry, and a whole load of fun to boot. The fight scenes, of which there are many, will give you a good idea of just how damn hard Hong Kong actors had to work in them days. Fights, usually with one good guy battling at least half a dozen opponents, run for about five minutes, with all participants lunging, kicking, punching, and generally shakin’ it all about in finely … (read more)

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