Blog Archives

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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Shaolin Prince (1982)

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Most fans of Shaw Brothers’ martial-arts and swordplay films know the names of director Chang Cheh and action director Lau Kar-leung, also a fine director in his own right. The Shaws studio had several other top action directors, though, chief among them Tong Gaai, who worked in partnership with Lau sifu on many of Chang Cheh’s films. While Lau is most associated with empty-handed martial arts, Tong Gaai was a weapons specialist, responsible for many of the Shaws films featuring … (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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The Heroic Ones (1970)

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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)

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Clans of Intrigue (1977)

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Clans of Intrigue is a later (1977) wuxia/swordplay film from a specialist in this genre, Chu Yuan. And he was a specialist — according to the documentary on the disc, he was generally making seven or eight films at once at any given time for Shaw Brothers, and I can count at least thirty wuxia/swordplay films in his filmography from the mid-seventies to mid-eighties. A large number of these were adaptations from the work of novelist Ku Lung, and this … (read more)

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Duel Of Fists (1971)

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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)

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Tiger on Beat (1988)

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Tiger On The Beat is a pretty routine Hong Kong take on the American buddy cop genre. Lau Kar Leung must have been strangely out of sorts when he made this — the bloody action and crude comedy seems more akin to Wong Jing than the director that brought us The 36 Chambers of Shaolin. Perhaps he simply feels more comfortable in the martial arts world of old.

Conan Lee doesn’t make much of an impression in the lead … (read more)

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