Mongols with the help of an insider, ambush the influential Yang Family, defenders of the dynasty. The Mongols must hunt down all Yang survivors so their insidious plot to overthrow the dyna... Read allMongols with the help of an insider, ambush the influential Yang Family, defenders of the dynasty. The Mongols must hunt down all Yang survivors so their insidious plot to overthrow the dynasty will not be uncovered.Mongols with the help of an insider, ambush the influential Yang Family, defenders of the dynasty. The Mongols must hunt down all Yang survivors so their insidious plot to overthrow the dynasty will not be uncovered.
This is a classic Shaw Bros. style film by famed director Lau Kar-Leung and starring Gordon Liu ("6th Brother"), whom Tarantino paid homage to by giving two roles in Kill Bill I & II.
The father of the Yang family and his seven sons go to battle to fight the Mongols who are threatening the Sung Dynasty. They are betrayed by a rival family and only two brothers, 6th (Liu) and 5th, survive. "6th" takes refuge at a General-turned-hunter's rural hideout (the General is a cameo by director Kar-Leung), before fleeing to a monastery where his brash personality conflicts with the monks there. At the monastery, he must improve his skills before seeking vengeance on those responsible for his family's betrayal.
The first fight scene (the battle) is a little cheesy with an obvious screened backdrop, a setting that doesn't really fit with the rest of the film. If the film was more ambitious this could have been a more impressive outdoor battle. But this is the film's only real drawback. The fights start out great and only get better. Highlights include 8th Sister's really breathtaking swordplay, and 6th Brother's duel with the Abbott which is both acrobatic and beautiful. This fight ends poetically, as during the fight both men had enscribed a yin-yang symbol on the floor of the monastery, symbolic of these two men's conflicting personalities: peaceful monk and warrior General.
The final scene is an all-out bloody melee which is really impressive, especially when 6th Brother takes on the horde with 8th Sister strapped to his back. Some of it is overacted (extreme reactions from bad guys as teeth are knocked out!) but used as a source of campy amusement, it only adds to the whole spectacle.
The plot is strong and very Shakespearean in scope (family loyal to the ruler is betrayed, family members must communicate in secret to avoid discovery while revenge is planned). The idea of the poles which use a twisty grappling-end to counter the Yang family's poles is unique. I love the fact that (like in many other films of the genre), the women's kung fu skills are as strong as the men's. This 20 years before the whole "girl power" thing in Western movies, music & TV.
If you're a fan of kung fu, see this film if you get a chance!
- Nov 11, 2006