Long quan xiao zi
- 1h 17min
After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, China is thrown into turmoil. The loyalists seek the return of Ming, the government is determined to stay in power. The only difference between the two is... Read allAfter the fall of the Ming Dynasty, China is thrown into turmoil. The loyalists seek the return of Ming, the government is determined to stay in power. The only difference between the two is one saves life, while the other takes it away.After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, China is thrown into turmoil. The loyalists seek the return of Ming, the government is determined to stay in power. The only difference between the two is one saves life, while the other takes it away.
Note however that Dynamite Shaolin Heroes is from 1977 - it came along just before the era of exploitation really started. And it shows. While the movie starts out slowly, it becomes better and better as the story progresses. Genuine suspense and excitement are built up, and the tale becomes engrossing enough to make you forget the cheesiness. Remarkably, - and unlike so many of the obscure kung fu movies -, the plot here is actually clear and easy to follow (!!!). Thankfully, there are no annoying attempts at comic relief; the story is played straight, unless one counts the very funny hat that the two dynamite shaolin heroes are wearing! :-) Well, actually one might say that the movie is quite aware of its own cheesiness, and constantly hovers on the edge of self-irony, yet maintains a straight face. Which is a good thing.
OK, a few words on the story. The good guys are the people who're trying to restore the Ming Dynasty. This is not clear in the beginning, which helps establish some suspense. As so often in these movies, it's all about protecting "The List!" That is, the list of the names of the sympathizers-slash-patriots-slash-revolutionaries whose identities must be protected in order for the good guys' cause to succeed. But in this movie we have several concurrent plot lines, making the story quite complex. For instance, the prince who's heir to the Ming Dynasty throne has a significant role. More importantly, though, one of the main characters has a daughter, who is to be married to a son of a family friend. But she is loved by a reformed assassin (and kung fu master) who keeps begging her to choose him instead of her "fool of a fiancé". Meanwhile, a heroic kung fu master who calls himself "Lotus Man" appears at all the right times and places to protect the main characters from their myriad enemies. The viewer is kept in suspense as to Lotus Man's true identity. Soon, it becomes clear that there are *two* Lotus Men, one who kills and one who doesn't. The viewer can't help speculating about what the deal is. The action is very successfully entertaining; you really want to know what happens next, and who these Lotus Men are. Matters get further complicated when there is a dream sequence (which is presented as real at first) where the girl fantasizes about her "fool fiancé" really being Lotus Man...! I shouldn't reveal any more; suffice it to say that the viewer is thrown for a loop more than once in this smart and classic kung fu adventure.
I give it a rating of 7 out of 10. While it is most certainly one of the better examples of what can be done with the traditional kung fu formula, it also remains an unspectacular B-movie. It does its thing very well, but doesn't break new ground.
- Jan 10, 2005