User Reviews (3)

Add a Review

  • KNIGHT OF KNIGHTS (1966) is a Shaw Bros. swordplay adventure staged in the more stylized Peking Opera vein that was prevalent in the early-to-mid '60s. There is lots of fighting, but it's not very artfully done and consists of the heroes wildly slashing their opponents and downing them effortlessly while making high rooftop leaps, all without suffering any scratches themselves. It's a bit on the overwrought side, with the righteous heroes wearing too much eye makeup, the villains blustering and leering, and the maidens delicate and modest (in contrast with the fighting females usually found in Hong Kong swordplay films).

    The film opens with a nighttime raid by six sworn brothers on a monastery run by a corrupt gang. After much swordfighting, archery, leaping, chasing, and bloodshed (including dismemberment), the six all die, with the last one living long enough to tell the 7th sworn brother, Wen Su Chen, about all the dirty deeds going on at the monastery. Wen, accompanied by two sidekicks, goes to the monastery in the guise of a traveling scholar to see for himself. It's the kind of place where a pretty wife coming to bring lunch to her husband, a carpenter working there, is kidnapped to an underground chamber by an outrageously horny monk eager to have his way with her. Wen, dressed in a black ninja-style outfit, finds a secret passage into the dungeon and frees the kidnapped women (there are plenty of them) and the now-imprisoned carpenter.

    Wen is working on behalf of Minister Lin, whom the corrupt monks are plotting to kill with an ingenious contraption designed to send a seaside pavilion toppling into the sea. Wen is not the most diligent protector, however, since the villains pull off their plan, forcing Wen and his men to go into the water to rescue Minister Lin, his daughter and the daughter's maid. In the course of it all, Wen and Lin's daughter develop a tasteful romance, manifested by a song duet on the soundtrack as the two are drying their clothes (after the sea rescue) on opposite sides of a cloth partition in an abandoned temple. The male singer's lyrics include, `I almost forgot my manners. Control yourself.'

    There is a large cast filled with familiar Shaw Bros. players (look for Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Simon Yuen, and Fan Mei-Sheng, among others) and lots of action in the compact 91-minute running time, most of it staged on sprawling Shaw Bros. sets, but some of it also photographed on picturesque seaside locations. It's fast-paced enough to overcome the numerous absurdities of the plot and visually impressive enough to merit a look by fans of old-fashioned Hong Kong swordplay, as also seen in such films as COME DRINK WITH ME and TWIN SWORDS, also reviewed on this site. The Tai Seng tape currently in distribution is full-frame, however, resulting in crucial subtitles being cut off on the sides and loss of some of the action.
  • Fellows in black invade a temple. A monk appears and the men call him out as a criminal and they fight. The opening fight is a bloody brawl. They do not hold back on the blood and amputations. The men are lead deeper into the monastery and picked off or fall into traps one at a time. Only one escapes. He lives long enough to tell Wen Suchen about the dirty deeds and then dies. The monks have imprisoned ladies to serve them. A student arrives to study there and they allow him in. It is Wen Suchen. Shaw Brothers cinematographers used a camera technique to darken the image to give the appearance of night during daylight. This technique always looked fake to me and only served to make the video hard to see. True I have only seen these moives on wide screen television so maybe it looked acceptable in theatres but I doubt it. The fights are standard fare for 1966, a time when actors were actors and only stunt men had any martial arts skills. That means mostly brawling sword fights where the actor raises his sword, the stunt men hit it, he waves his sword and stunt men fly off in every direction, and there is a cut every two or three moves. The hero putting on a face mask also is effective. This movie has more of the look of a Chinese opera rather than a martial arts movie from the golden age of 1967 to 1984. (1966<1967, duh!) For that fan I can only recommend it because it is Shaw Brothers. I have watched all these movies in chronological order and it was quite a learning experience to see the development in filming, fighting, and acting. My copy is the Celestial release DVD and the video and subtitles are excellent.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    KNIGHT OF KNIGHTS opens with a nighttime assault on a mysterious temple: six armed men enter and quickly discover that the temple is a veritable labyrinth of death traps. They are led deeper and deeper into the temple and their numbers begin to dwindle.(Limbs are lopped off with bloody abandon.) One of the last two survivors (played by Cheng Wei) sacrifices himself for the final team member, but the sacrifice proves to be in vain: Number Six is mortally wounded as he clears the temple wall. He dies on a forest trail, but not before passing on what he has learned. Meanwhile, Yao (Ku Feng), a worker at the temple, is victimized by the temple Abbott and the evil Governor Wang and their men: Yao's wife and sister are kidnapped by the villains, who want to force them into prostitution. When Yao protests, he's chained up in a dungeon and beaten to within an inch of his life. A mysterious masked man rescues them. This is Wen Suchen (Chuang Chiao). Wen and his two assistants arrive at the temple posing as scholars, but the villains are suspicious of them. Wen finds hidden passages and he and his two men learn that the Abbott and the Governor are planning to kill the local government Inspector (Lin, who is arriving to address complaints from the local villagers that the Guv ain't exactly on the up and up); they intend to sabotage a pagoda (a gazebo) by causing it to collapse into the sea. At one point, Wen Long, one of Wen's men, must fight his way through a horde of villains and we get another taste of some great practical effects when he slashes the throat of one of the men: a gout of blood that has to be seen to be appreciated jets from the man's throat. There's also a nice little interlude between Wen and Lin's rescued daughter, Hong Yu (the beautiful Lily Ho). Good action, solid direction, and a great storyline (the idea of a temple of evil with hidden rooms throughout being infiltrated by a Zorro-like hero and his men)- this one's satisfying in the extreme.