15 September 2018 | BA_Harrison
Confusing kung fu claptrap.
Featuring a booby-trapped house and starring the Venoms, this early-'80s Shaw Brother's flick sounds all kinds of cool, but is let down by a plot that is incredibly hard to follow at times and a lack of memorable martial arts action.
The plot has something to do with a prince who is organising a rebellion against the emperor, enlisting some of the top fighters in the land; he keeps a list of all his rebels, and a collection of stolen imperial treasures, in the house of traps, a building protected by a series of automated devices designed to kill intruders.
It doesn't take long for the convoluted narrative to confuse, with the introduction of numerous characters who are difficult to tell apart, and matters get more and more bewildering as loyalties come into question. I gave up trying to keep track of the story, hoping that the inventive booby traps, the gore, and the fighting would be adequate, but they weren't: the same traps are activated each time, the bloody stuff is wholly unconvincing (funniest moment: a guy is tortured by being pushed onto a bed of rubber nails) and the kung fu not all that impressive (this is the Venoms - I expect more).
Admittedly, the initial activation of the house is fun, the intruder losing a foot before being impaled on a floor of spikes, and a later scene involving some crazy umbrella fu is entertainingly silly; also rather amusing are those phallic protrusions on the roof of the house, so handy for attaching a grappling hook to (or grappling hand, in this case). But as a whole, this is a disappointing effort from director Chang Cheh and his usually reliable troupe of performers.