8 October 2007 | shandalson
Sags in the middle, but what an ending!
This movie serves as a precursor to Sammo Hungs Iron-fisted Monk, with the great kicker Casanova Wong in a similar role as a shaolin monk-kicker extraordinaire. Sammos mentor Huang Feng is the director, who was responsible for some early classics such as HAPKIDO and WHEN TAEKWONDO STRIKES, both starring the ultimate high kicking femme fatale Angela Mao and both featuring and choreographed by Sammo.
The plot concerns the lead villain Chen Sing (dubbed the Charles Bronson of Asia) scouring the country for various martial arts manuals to further his evil deeds. James Tien is the student of Wu Tang who trains to stop him. there are many plot twists along the way which I wont go in to.
The movie starts brilliantly and excitingly with Sammo in full on villain mode sporting a beard and some killer weaponry, searching out the good guys. Two excellently choreographed fights follow, with Kam Kong displaying superb bootwork and Chien Yuet San some intricate spearplay. The choreography here is up there with Sammos later, masterful work such as MAGNIFICENT BUTCHER and ODD COUPLE. However, as the plot takes over there are some long, boring passages. But just wait until the ending! Casanova Wong kicks into gear alongside none other than Kwon Young Moon, as the two take on numerous villains and finally Chen Sing. Seeing these two go into action alongside each other is a joy to behold, not just for the fans.
Casanova is known for his more high profile roles in movies like WARRIORS TWO, in which he performs one of the most incredible kicks ever seen on screen. But here his abilities are in my opinion given the best showcase. In one shot he performs 7 kicks, lightning fast, without his foot touching the floor, with excellent technique! It has to be seen to be believed. James Tien also performs the best action I've seen from him, having a good weapons duel with Chen.
The production values are decent, what you would expect of a Golden Harvest film from this time, and there is good use of locations. Sammo has one of his best villainous roles, as does Chen. If you are a fan of any of the performers this is a must-see, as the action is definitely up there with the best of the 70s kung fu movies.
The Hong Kong DVD has excellent cover art, but unfortunately the print ain't that good. At least its subtitled with a letterboxed presentation. Get it Yo!