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  • THis is one of the best martial art / kung fu movies from Director Sun Chung. I grade it same level as that for "avanging eagles", they are all 10! The VHS version is so badly worn out and unclear. WE need someone who cares to digitally remaster this film and release it on DVD for the whole world to enjoy. Why Celestrial didn't do the job? All other Shaw brothers' movies were digitally remastered by Celestrial but this one. What a shame and pity! Please, please restore this film for the martial arts fan out there. I watched this film (VHS) version over and over again and never get boring. The fight scenes are great and the actions matches the sound track perfectly. The action director designed the movements extremely well and really hold your breath through out the whole film. The plot is also great. Surprise after surprise, I am sitting at the edge of my chair till last second of this movie. This movie is really Director Sun Chung's master piece and worth every penny for the money I spend on the tape. I will definitely the first one to buy the DVD version of it if it ever came out in the future.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    In late November, five months after KUNG FU INSTRUCTORS (1979) release, Shaw's released Sun Chung's TO KILL A MASTERMIND (1979) to Hong Kong theaters.

    The Chi Sha society of killers secretly hunt down and kill the members of the Yang Society, a government backed organization responsible for killing followers of the Chi Sha. However, the seven leaders of the Chi Sha are killed off one at the time after they are branded as spies for the Yang's. During the final battle, one last bit of treachery is revealed culminating in a great final fight sequence.

    While the film possesses a good storyline, this is more of a straight up action film from Chung compared to some of his other movies. The choreography is quite fantastic and exciting. Filled with mostly secondary character actors save for main baddie Wang Lung Wei, the film performed dismally in HK. A shame really considering it is probably the only movie where these guys were given a chance to shine on the big screen. They all handle themselves more than capably. Most of the actors here usually played henchmen or hired killers who generally did not have much (if any) dialog. Perhaps that is why this film failed to connect with HK audiences because of its lack of familiar faces. Even though perennial bad guy favorite Wang Lung Wei is on hand he cannot carry the film as there are too many others to keep up with.

    Considering that Chang Cheh, Liu Chia Liang, Chu Yuan (as well as Sun Chung himself) were still putting out hits to the masses in light of the drastic change in audience tastes (thanks to Jackie Chan and his comedy kung fu brigade), TO KILL A MASTERMIND's failure speaks nothing about its extremely high entertainment value. Everything from the storyline, the costumes, the weapons, the action choreography and especially Chung's use of slow motion and freeze editing all combine to create an adrenaline charged kung fu extravaganza.

    To add insult to injury, TO KILL A MASTERMIND (1979) is currently not on the slate of films to be remastered by Celestial. The reason given is that the film is too badly damaged to be dealt with. Whether this is in fact true, is not known at this time. The film was listed as being available from Celestial on one of the earlier DVD filmographies. For now, all that exists of this action charged movie is a so-so quality dupe with English subs that are below the picture making it near impossible to ascertain what is being said unless you understand mandarin. Hopefully, the film will see some kind of release from either IVL or one of the three US companies handling the releases.
  • The first time I watched this movie I was drawn into the plot and style. Who is the mastermind? That is the intriguing mystery. There is also the style of the set with the evil clan headquarters and the silver ball delivering messages from the unknown leader. From start to finish I had no idea what was going on, if it made sense, and I could not tell one actor from another. I liked it though and stuck it out all the way because I wanted to know who was the mastermind. At the end I liked it and considered it one of the best.

    Then I watched it again a few years later. The movie did not hold up at all. The plot and style fell to the side and nothing of substance was left. The fights were good but one fight was the same as any other, the action did not advance the story at all. Every fight was the same fight. Even the word "mastermind" in the title became meaningless. These bad guys had to be idiots. They suspected one of their own as a spy, killed him, yet were tricked again, so suspected another of their own and killed him as if they had never been in this situation before.