8 September 2001 | BrianDanaCamp
VENGEANCE - Noirish Hong Kong thriller with kung fu stars
VENGEANCE (aka KUNG FU VENGEANCE, 1970) was one of the earliest collaborative efforts of director Chang Cheh and his star team of David Chiang and Ti Lung. It is more of a traditional gangster film than a kung fu film and offers a dark, atmospheric feel closer to Hollywood film noir than to similarly themed Hong Kong crime films. The film is, in fact, a loose remake of John Boorman's crime thriller POINT BLANK (1967), itself an adaptation of Richard Stark's novel, 'The Hunter.'
In 1920s-era Peking, Chinese Opera performer Ti Lung confronts his boss (Ku Feng) over the boss's attentions to his straying wife and takes on a room full of hatchet-wielding henchmen before dying a bloody death after a valiant fight. As Ti's brother, David Chiang, who shares no scenes with his frequent co-star (other than a brief flashback), comes to town seeking revenge and eventually fights it out with all the crime bosses and their minions, culminating in a big fight in which David helps one gang beat another only to have the winning gang turn on him. Although the film is generally slow-moving, it has a number of compelling scenes and expert use of cramped interiors in well-designed period settings.
The film has little in the way of actual kung fu, with more of an emphasis on knife fighting, slashing and judo flips in its three major fight scenes than on hand-to-hand Chinese boxing, yet it is clearly a lead-in to subsequent gangster-style kung fu films by Chang Cheh such as DUEL OF THE IRON FIST, which also starred David Chiang and Ti Lung, and BOXER FROM SHANTUNG, which starred Chen Kuan Tai, who appears in a bit part in VENGEANCE.