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  • TRAITOROUS (aka SHAOLIN TRAITOROUS, 1976) is another unsung kung fu gem from the mid-1970s and features surprisingly strong work by three second-rank stars of the era (Carter Wong, Polly Shang Kwan, Chang Yi) and a spectacular villainous turn by one of the future star-directors of the genre (Sammo Hung).

    The standard storyline benefits from a straightforward structure following the quest for vengeance by a boy who witnesses his parents' murders at the hands of corrupt officials. The boy's first move is to apprentice himself at Shaolin Temple to learn kung fu. After an extremely well-crafted training sequence (on a par with similarly-styled Shaw Bros. scenes), the boy grows up to be Carter Wong (BORN INVINCIBLE, WHEN TAEDWONDO STRIKES) and sets out to track down the murderous nobles.

    He is confronted by a female fighter, played by Polly Shang Kwan (DRAGON GATE INN, 99 CYCLING SWORDS), who's a member of the court, but soon learns the two have a common enemy in the ranking official (Chang Yi), who was responsible for the deaths of both their parents. Sammo Hung appears as one of the villains and has a sprawling bout with Carter in the Taiwanese countryside set against a mountainous landscape.

    There are lots of expertly staged fights in outdoor locations. The kung fu is above average and Carter and Polly are as good here as they've ever been. Sammo has less to do, but his scenes are worth savoring. The bad guys display some great moves directed by Sammo who employs drumbeats to cue his dozen or so guardsmen to perform different maneuvers and create varied formations. Carter and Polly use some clever thinking to figure out how to thwart this strategy before their final two-on-one bout with Chang Yi.

    TRAITOROUS is that rarity among kung fu movies available in the U.S.-letter-boxed, subtitled in English and heard in its original language (Mandarin). It's a well-produced film, with excellent cinematography and an original music score. The director is Sung Ting Mei, who also gave us SHAOLIN RED MASTER.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE TRAITOROUS is an averagely-plotted Taiwanese kung fu film lifted by the presence of a few genre stars. The story sees an evil priest, played by Chang Yi, massacring a family apart from a small boy who manages to escape to the Shaolin Temple where he is trained in the martial arts for the next twenty years before seeking revenge. Betrayal, training, and revenge are the order of the day and it's nothing you've not seen before.

    It's indifferent enough stuff, too familiar to make much of an impact, and yet this film has things in its favour. Carter Wong always makes for an energetic and imposing screen hero and he's given nice support here from Polly Shang Kwan who gets a more complex role than you'd usually expect. Chang Yi's villain is suitably villainous, but more interesting is the chance to see Sammo Hung in a rare bad guy turn (and he looks much like his character in ZU: WARRIORS FROM THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN).
  • Stop me if this story sounds familiar. A child sees his parents killed by corrupt court officials so he goes to Shaolin Temple to learn kung fu to get revenge. Now you know the beginning, middle and end of this story. Chang Yi has matured from playing the good guy to playing the white eyebrows villain character he will play for almost the rest of his movie career. Sammo also puts on some white eyebrows and an overall evil eunuch look but I don't think he pulls it off. Sammo needs a beard to look like a bad guy in my opinion, to cover up some of his baby face look. The "pointy index finger style" of kung fu he uses looks silly too. "Old horse face", as I like to affectionately call Carter Wong, scores the lead hero role. Lucky for the audience the role involves minimal acting. Carter can be quite expressive while he fights but otherwise he can only do "angry glare", "I'm listening" and "shocked surprise". His fight with Sammo is excellent because I love the three section staff and Sammo handles it excellently. The fight is too short though. The final fight array technique with the fighter's leaping on each others shoulders and responding to drumbeats was kind of dumb. Overall I can only rate it a notch over plain average for the year and genre.