4 November 2007 | ChungMo
Chang Cheh's last Shaw kung fu spectacular is equally daft and incredible
Cheh had a long and colorful career as one of the top directors at the Shaw studio but by 1982 his stock had fallen as trends moved away from the period costume kung fu action films he was so fond of. While fellow kung fu film director, Liu Chia Liang was still able to pull off hits, Cheh was perhaps getting too quirky and obvious with his favorite themes of heroic men in revealing outfits, gruesome fights and few if no women in the story. A few films followed in this year with one released the next, but none rival Five Element Ninjas. Cheh was out of the Shaw studio by 1983 and working in low budget Taiwanese cinema he never was able to achieve anything remotely near his past successes. This is his swan song at the Shaw studios,
The plot is absolutely silly and full of absurdities even for your average Chinese made Ninja film. It's as if Cheh saw the competition and said, "Oh yeah? Well watch this!". Except for Venom star Lo Meng, the cast is composed of Shaw second stringers but that doesn't mean the action is anything less then excellent. This film has the best fight scenes in a Cheh film since "The Crippled Avengers" of 1979. Everyone is fighting with weapons in mass fight scenes that are incredibly choreographed. Unfortunately, many production credits are not translated and I don't know who was the genius behind the fight scenes. Lo Meng is the only one doing open hand fighting and he fights a samurai in the first extended fight scene! Granted the samurai sword skills on display are from outer space but it goes with the absurd nature of the entire movie. So much of this film is wacky that it's a waste of your time to recount it. It's as if everything you'd expect from a late Cheh film (good and bad) was turned up to "11" including the pace.
Bloody and nuts. Just the way a good Cheh film should be. See it.