Blog Archives

Samurai 1: Musashi Miyamoto (1954)

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Like all good reviewers I’m reviewing the first film (Samurai 1) after the second one (Samurai 2), don’t worry I did watch them in the right order.

This is the great first episode of the famous trilogy based on the life of Musashi Miyamoto, its star, everyone’s favourite screen samurai, Toshiro Mifune (well, mine at least).

Musashi really existed, but much like Wong Fei Hung in China his life has been mythologized and his story has … (read more)

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Samurai 2: Duel at Ichijoji Temple (1955)

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A few years ago I decided to work my way through the classics of cinema. Many of them I really enjoyed, but there were some that were a bit of a struggle to sit through, at the end I would say that was a bit of a struggle, but it was a worthy film. The Samurai Trilogy was on my list but I hadn’t been able to get to it (partly because of the lack of availability, which has been … (read more)

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Chinese Gods (1976)

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Weird. This is a real oddity. A feature length animation released during the Shaw Brothers heyday, the 1970s. Unlike Japan, Hong Kong isn’t known for its booming animation industry. This is one of the very few (and the earliest) to have been made; it’s rushed, rough and a tad incomprehensible — and also quite a bit of fun.

The filmmakers have clearly used the creative freedom of animation to explore some of the more fantastical elements of Chinese mythology that … (read more)

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Game of Death 2 (1981)

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When I was a wee boy (as opposed to the wee man I am now) my mum rented some videos. One of these films was my first foray into kung fu and Bruce Lee — Game of Death 2. Strange starting point, I know, but it was enough to keep me on the bandwagon for many years to come. To tell the truth, it’s not a great film, so I will have to keep my bias and nostalgia to … (read more)

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Last Hero in China (1993)

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Jet Li left the Once Upon A Time In China series after part three, but in Last Hero In China (his next film) he was imaginatively cast as Wong Fei Hung again. It begins like another episode of the series, but it doesn’t take long for Wong Jing’s signature stupidity to kick in. The film doesn’t really flow; it’s just a series of extended set pieces loosely tied together. The best of these by far is the strikingly surreal rope … (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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Tiger on Beat 2 (1990)

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Everything about this in-name-only sequel to Tiger on the Beat feels second rate, but for some reason I found it enjoyable — well kinda. Most of the original cast members return in slightly different roles, the bonus being that Conan Lee can fight Gordon Liu again (though it’s not a patch on their first effort). This is real B grade stuff; it looks like it was reeled off pretty quickly without much care for the end result. Also, for an … (read more)

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