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Tai fong siu sau

Sammo can dance but I'd rather watch him fight
It opens with a strange scene with Sammo and Frankie practicing their pickpocket skills. This fools the audience expectation of the opening scene showing martial arts practice or a fight. It also takes off with the concept that all hard work can be relevant to kung fu skills.

This movie was a new direction for Sammo Hung. It preceded and seemed to lay the foundation for the "Lucky Star" series. It is also a landmark movie. This is the first true "set piece" for the final fight. The set of the boat is used and the physical elements of the boat are used to mix in with the action and fights.

The martial arts is not as frequent but the quality is the best. If you are surprised to see Sammo dancing in the disco, remember the Peking Opera school also taught dance and song. Sammo can certainly dance but I've never heard him sing. On the other hand, I've never seen Jackie Chan dance but he sings in many of his movies.

Cha chi nan fei

SImple revenge is never simple
Teng Piao (Ti Lung) is sentenced fifteen years for opium smuggling. After the opening credits an assassin sent by Lan Fei appears. He offers 5000 gold to forget about the revenge. Teng Piao simply wants revenge but revenge is never simple. He kills the assassin and goes to Zhou Bai (Jason Pai Piao). After fighting the lackeys he checks into the inn and sees the lovely and mysterious Ching Li. She has been expecting him. They talk. Many men attack. He kills them all but one who he sends back. The police appear and take him to the station for a talk. He is advised to leave town but won't. Zhou sends for his six killer brothers. Ti Lung and Ching Li talk again. Her husband went missing fifteen years ago when he went to meet the Black Leopard. It is revealed that no one knows what Black Leopard looks like except for a birth mark. It could be anyone, male or female.

China has many authentic ancient magnificent weapons. But this is the movies and almost anything can be a weapon. In martial arts, weapons training is advanced practice. This is to avoid injury. Even a wooden sword can injure a martial artist practicing alone. In the movies, stunt men can be injured by rubber knives and plastic swords. Some movies use whips as weapons. In reality the whip is a poor choice of weapon. The physics of the whip as a weapon in movies is cartoon physics. But if you are trying to avoid injuring your stunt men then the whip is a good choice. Same for the iron chain in this movie. Plus you don't need cartoon physics using a chain in fights.

As for the action, a gun appears in the first scene and unfortunately many guns return toward the end. I don't like guns in these movies. The fights were all good but there was no "Wow!" factor. The dialog tending to repeat things the audience already knew. I only rate this movie a tad above average because of Ti Lung's performance.

Shui quan guai zhao

Yet another style of fighting
It opens with the kid taking advantage of a baker by stealing a few buns then leading him on a chase. He has a silver coin though and next goes to a big tea house for a fish dinner. A gang enters looking for Beardie. He fights them off but it appears he has been previously injured or is sick. The kid helps in the fight.

The kid has been in just a few movies and I liked all of his performances. He has the flexibility and acrobatics of youth and that always adds something special to his fight sequences.

The kid takes Beardie to an old house to hole up and goes for medicine. The gang follows him back to Beardie. They escape and also rescue a lady in distress from a life in the brothel. After a dinner break the gang is back for another fight. There is an excellent bench prop fight. They are forced to flee. Beardie tries to dump the kid for his own safety but his wounds are worse. The kid and Beardie hole up at an old temple. A new fighter appears. This time it is Simon Yuen to the rescue. The three team up.

The kid won't learn kung fu from Simon Yuen. He goes for wine and meets the girl again. The gang finds him again and Simon to the rescue. There is a good fight sequence where Simon uses the kid as a prop. Cut to gang headquarters to make plans. The kid starts training with Simon. He has a secret technique he teaches to Beardie. Could it be the sleeping fist?

This movie is above average for the year and genre and has my highest recommendation. for fans of martial arts movies.

He Lan Du ren tou

Nice scenery for such a terrible movie
It opens with Bolo and Jason exchanging techniques at a martial arts school. The opening credits take us to the Netherlands. Enjoy the scenery because that's about the only entertainment value of this stinker. These "European Vacation" movies were popular in this genre during the 1970s. I can't think of a single one that was not a stinker. The typical reason was forgetting to pack a script. This one must have had a script because all they do is talk for the first 40 minutes. The gratuitous nudity can be found at about 26 minutes. The first fight is a typical brawl like thousands of others. The second is another but indoors. The third returns outdoors. If you have seen one you have seen them all.

The scene then goes to Paris. After a few views of the city our guys end up on the quai de la Tournelle area across the river from Notre Dame. This was where Duncan McCleod parked his barge in the "Highlander" television series. Instead of a barge there was a pile of bricks dropped there when this was filmed. Bolo fights first but as we all know, Bolo always loses.

Why does it seem the worse the movie the better the available copy? My copy is a digital file that plays as wide screen and is English dubbed. The quality is as good as DVD but not Bluray.

Bei pan shi men

Shaw Brother's bottomless pit of martial arts talent puts another man on display
Chen Kuan-Tai is challenged at the tea house by Wang Lung-Wei and two other thugs. The waiter deceives him with a knife in his side so he must flee. Cut to the kung fu school. Yuen Tak is bullied by the others including the jerk of a master. That night, Chen Kuan-Tai arrives at his home, wounded. Our guy heals him up and learns real martial arts from him.

The three evil masters are Wang Lung-Wei and company. They take over our guy's school. After failing in his waiter career and much more training on his own he returns to the school. It was taken over by the bad guys. One by one he outwits and fights the bad guys to their death.

Yuen Tak is the true star of this movie. The martial arts he demonstrates are comparable to the greatest of this era. This is another example of the bottomless pit of incredible talent at Shaw Brothers. I believe this is his only starring role. He continued in the movie business for about another twenty years in supporting roles but mostly off camera as action choreographer, designer, or director.

I rate this movie as one of the best of 1980 based totally on the fighting scenes with Yuen Tak.

Meng nan da zei yan zhi hu

More of the same
It opens with a man threatening to jump from a skyscraper. "Bruce Lee" in his yeloow and black track suit comes to the rescue. The suicidal man has a trick up his sleeve. Cut to a gym.

My copy is unusual high quality. It is a digital file that plays on a HDTV as true wide screen with good resolution and is English dubbed.

This movie is labeled Brucexploitation. Exploiting Bruce Lee's name was done by VHS rental businesses. They had tons of VHS tapes for rent in America and labeled them not by proper title but to attract the American viewer. They often used words like "Shaolin", "tiger", "dragon", or "Bruce Lee" to attract the unknowing customer. Jackie Chan's name was also used.

Shi ba yu luo han

The plot and picture fight for worst
To save you the trouble an arhat is one who is worthy in a religious way or even attained nirvana in Buddhism.

The movie starts with Li Lung-Hua working out (only six films) with Polly over the opening credits and loud music. He uses a strange multi-armed contraption. The two meet on the road to old town at night. There are more fights. It seems Li Lung-Hua was on his way to a duel and the opponent sent assassins in advance. He kills them all but someone thinks Chang Yi did it. LLH wants to know who gave the orders to kill him. There is a strange walking on large balls fight that Polly does.

So if I send a man to kill you and I see he has failed and he is standing right next to you and about to reveal my name to you, why would I throw a knife to kill him before he talks instead of just throwing the knife to kill you?

My copy is a poorly panned chopped sided VHS to digital file. First fights are too dark and too close. In fact - all the fights are like that though the rest is watchable.

Suitable only for hard core fans of the genre and I do not recommend it.

Guai quan guai zhao

For hard core fans in small doses only
Dragon Lee arrives by plane in Hong Kong, goes to a fellow kung fu practitioner's house, then goes to a seaside location where he gets into a fight because he needs to be taught a lesson. He teaches a lesson instead. The big boss, a guy smoking a carrot, is informed. Then there is a case of mistaken identity.

Dragon Lee goes overboard trying to act like Bruce Lee with silent gestures. The comedy attempts all fall flat. The fights are frequent and for no reason. There are some moments that are good but some that are totally bad. In one sequence Samuel Walls ducks about two seconds too soon for an incoming kick.

This is my second dose of Dragon Lee. Something like this is only for the hard core fan and still I am generous by rating it just below average.

Tong tian lao shu xia jiang nan

Beware of the title
It starts with "who are these two guys and why are they fighting". Next, Dean Shek and his gang fail to outsmart a chicken. They pretend to be a famous killer to rob for food money but encounter Doris. Later Doris has possession of a piece of jade that everyone in the movie also wants though superficially it appears worthless. The whole movie seems to be about the jade but I can't comprehend anything else.

Beware of many alternate versions of the title. I begin my reviews with descriptions of the action so you can compare versions.

My copy is a digital file that seems to have been from a laser disk but the sides are chopped as if from a VHS conversion. The quality is minimal acceptable. I rate it minimal acceptable also.

Jue quan

One of the best of the year for the genre
The master is about to retire but goes on a journey to prove he is number one. Li Yi-Min stalks him begging to learn. The other students beat him up because he has no kung fu at all. Sifu gets sick. A gang attacks Sifu and Li Yi-Min clumsily but effectively helps. At about 50 minutes in he finally gets a lesson and ten minutes of magic movie time later he is handing out beatings instead of taking them.

My copy is a digital file that seems to be from a Mei Ah laser disk and is English and widescreen as good as it gets for quality.

This is probably the most polite martial arts movie ever made. The Lung brothers really get to showcase their skills. I am adding it to the best ever list.

She xing diao shou dou tang lang

This movie has title and version problems
It starts with a fight on the beach as Carter is there to arrest the guy. Cut to Lung Fei is looking for Don Wong. He and Carter run the escort and are being robbed. Don displays unbelievable generosity to the bandits. He is also unbelievably generous to Lee Kwan when he tries to rob him. They become friends.

This movie has a title problem and a version problem. Apparently some versions also include clips from the Jackie Chan movie "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow" with Hwang Jang Lee. I have two copies. The one under the original title is English dubbed, fake widescreen and the resolution is inconsistent. The resolution is okay when they are talking then poor when they are fighting. The movie saved as part 2 is better resolution throughout and also has much more Jackie Chan clips stuck in at the beginning.

Suitable for fans of the genre to compare versions. Otherwise not for folks just looking for a Jackie Chan movie.

Guo jiang long du chuang hu xue

Yet not the worst
It begins with jungle drums and previews of fights behind the credits. An anonymous fight follows then cut to Nora in a night club. Thugs enter and destroy the set quickly. Cut to Bruce Leung is looking for a job then Larry Lee is found drunk on the floor of Nora's place. They hire him. What? He trashes the thugs place. Lo Lieh discusses a big drug shipment. Bruce seems to be an undercover cop but his cover is blown. Then he has a long boring talk with his mother. He goes out and has a fight. Back at Nora's place the gang is back and Larry is in charge. Nora gets to fight using nunchucks.

How could this movie be even more boring? Add a soccer match! Wait, worse than worse - they bring in the white stunt guys - the pot-bellied professional wrestling type stunt guys.

The VHS copy is from a good tape at least but it seems way too close up particularly in the fights. It is bad in every way possible. Yet not the worst.

Fei yan shuang jiao

Hard to get past the video quality
Intruders in the house put a guy in a nose hold and question him about jewels. The escorts arrive and they fight over the opening titles. Chia Ling pops out of a coffin and captures two of the gang. Angela tortures them for information. Wan Kuan-Hsiung enters and is not talking. He has pre-printed messages instead. Cut to the tea house.

Our girls start a fight then ride off. They are competing to catch the bad guys. Some alliances form on and off.

Chang Yu plays a beggar at first. He returns near the end in the evil white eyebrows costume.

I watched this movie years ago but did not post a review because of the poor video quality of my copy. I since have not been able to locate a better copy. I did get a "proper DVD" by Bonsai media but it was no better than an Ocean Shores VHS.

I suspect there might be a laser disk version release since that format was popular in Hong Kong when VHS was the standard elsewhere. Somewhere in a Hong Kong mansion, in a forgotten closet, a pile of these laser disks might exist. Someday they might come out but today is not that day.

Nowadays, this movie would only attract the attention and hold the interest of a hard core fan of martial arts movies of the golden age from 1967 to 1984. I am such a fan. I watched this movie twice and that was one more time than enough.

Jue dou zhe de sheng ming

Many stars but little screen time and disappointing fights
It opens with an extravagant prop. Lo Lieh rides in a palanquin the size of a small yacht. It is carried across the sands by dozens of ladies. Our girl challenges him and scars his cheek. Cut to another challenge she easily wins. Swordsmen gather to discuss the plot. Pearl arrives at another challenge and announces she is after Peerless Swallow.

By the twenty minute mark there were at least four "fights" that lasted a split second each. He fights that lasted longer were just as disappointing. The big name actors were barely used. No fight director is listed in the credits and it shows.

I have the Flash Legs DVD version. The only extra is the movie trailer. It plays wide screen with English subtitles. The English audio track would not play.

Overall I rate this below average for the year and genre and cannot recommend it.

Cobra Kai

Nice ride but where are we going?
I love the show but as a writer I have a big concern. Where are we going with this? Johnny and Daniel are matter and anti-matter. They need to live a thousand miles away from each other and never interact again ever. Writing is formulaic. A proper ending requires the protagonist to be cornered by the antagonist and have two choices, one easy and one hard. The hero makes the hard choice and also overcomes his fatal flaw thereby not just winning but proving he deserves to win. This stuff must be set up in advance. Although the writing is great so far, it's getting close to the same old thing over and over.

Shui yue men

The star had limited on screen time
The swords man stops about eight riders and kills them all for revenge. David Chiang arrives at night and kills him. Looking glamorous in gold, David visits a musician. They discuss death. Next, his master orders him to kill more bad guys. He meets his target's cute daughter. He hangs around with her, waiting for father to return home. Because he his hot for the daughter he spares the father. Master now sends men to kill the traitor, David Chiang.

He does not kill the men sent to kill him. A mysterious man in black appears. (Mars?) He kills them all. Two one-armed guys attack next. David defeats them but does not kill. Again, the man in black kills them. Later, four guys discuss revenge.

David and his girl arrive at her uncle's place. The four guys discuss if they are doing the right thing. They are attacked by ninjas. Cut to a windy street where a guy in black approaches Jason Pai Piao. He is a sword for hire and hired to kill David. They fight and admire each other's skill so much I thought they were going to turn gay.

David learns someone killed his father. The four guys think David killed his own father. The musician is back and he accused David of killing THEIR father. David accuses the uncle. David is poisoned but everyone is alive for the final fight.

I have the DVD version. It has four other fights from different movies as bonus material. It plays as wide screen but the picture seems cropped and too close up. The fights are average for the year and that's all I rate it.

Yi dan er li san gong fu

Some good action inside a flat story
The movie opens with Gordon Liu getting on a train. He looks at sketches of men. He goes to an inn and asks about escort services. Cut to prisoners working on the railroad. An imposter sneaks in, replaces a victim in an execution, a metal plate protects him. He does this for pay from the family. Gordon wants to meet this con man.

Lau Brother Co. (L&B) and made 1978 Dirty Kung Fu, 1979 Fists and Guts, 1980 Carry On Wise Guy and 1980 The Fool Escape. I have never been able to find a copy of "The Fool Escape" and suspect it was never finished or never released. The important thing here is that we are talking about the Grandmaster of All Martial Arts Movies, Lau Kar-Leung (aka Liu Chia-Liang) and his look-alike except for the mole over the right eye brother Lau Kar-Wing. There are some excellent moments of fight choreography to be found in this movie. Otherwise, the story line is vague and the scenes just incidents strung together. More fights would have improved it. Also deleting the "leprosy kung fu" fight would be better.

My copy is a digital file made from the old Ocean Shores 1984 VHS tape. It has the expected screen size, resolution, and English dubbing. Overall, I rate it only average and suitable only for hard core fans of the genre.

Bo ming dan dao duo ming qiang

Always bring your magnets to the sword fight!
Creativity seldom describes movies from the golden age of martial arts movies from 1967 to 1984. This movie starts with a plot used many times before in which two masters settle a grudge by training students for a challenge fight.

Sammo Hung and Lau Kar-Yan both play younger versions of each other in the same time frame. That was brilliant and never done before. The movie is also a parody of all martial arts movies and of Peking opera too. Almost every added character adds a twist to the story. These movies also have a reputation for filming without as much as a script and making it all up as you go. To produce this movie required fine details and precise scheduling because the two leads had two different characters to play. I have been watching these movies in chronological order to determine some "Best" and "First" moments. As of the release of this movie I rate it the most creative so far.

None of this would matter if the fights were just average. The fights were some of the best of 1979 and likely also some of the best fights ever. The spear versus sword idea worked fabulously. Many other weapons were also used including improvising props for weapons. At first I rated this movie 9/10 but then I noticed something in comparison to the other great movies of 1979. I deducted a point because in this movie they forgot that women can fight. My other top movies for 1979, though male dominated, also had at least one excellent fight with a female.

My copy is wide screen and typical DVD resolution. There are English subtitles and dubbing. I recommend playing both because it's amusing how the spoken and written words rarely match. I rate this 8 of 10 and highly recommend it for all fans of the genre.

Zhuang ju zai yu Niu gan yan

Good kung fu comedy with a twist in the plot
It starts with "Who are these two guys and why are they fighting?" There's a twist, the master has a mole In his school who is really a student of his old nemesis. He bullies people to discredit him.

The movie is a comedy but as typical of Chinese movies, the comedy can quickly become tragedy and then back. The fights are often comedy also. I liked the use of weapons and props used creatively as weapons. Some of the verbal gags were certainly lost in translation.

The action was certainly above average for 1979 in terms of quality and creativity. The moves were well executed, focused, and mostly smooth.

My copy is a digital file made from an old Ocean Shores VHS. It has Chinese and English subtitles. I disagree with the other review - Sammo Hung is not in this movie. Yuen Bo is the lead here and not Yuen Biao as listed on IMDB. I rate the movie above average and recommend it for fans of the genre.

Xiong sheng Cai Li Fo

Cliff Lok learns a whole lot of kung fu
It opens with a group of men fighting over a list of names. Demonstrations continue over the credits. Cliff Lok is demonstrating kung fu outside a school. He seems to be possessed and the teacher has to come out to fight. Cliff requests the teacher to take him as pupil.

This movie could be titled "Cliff Lok learns a whole lot of kung fu" but that would give away the entire story. There is plenty of well executed action but it stills drags because of the worn out story line and tired old situations. If you are a fan of the genre and find yourself going into withdrawal and just need to watch a movie - here you go. Otherwise, I can't recommend it.

I have the Rarescope DVD version as "Choy Lee Fut Kung Fu". It has a bonus video of Cliff Look demonstrating kung fu and an interview. He mentions he was one of the Seven Little Fortunes along with Jackie and Sammo but also clarifies that any group of seven from the opera school had that title. At that time there were so many excellent martial artists available to make movies one could hardly tell them apart. On IMDB it is "Choy Lay Fut".

Yi jian ci xiang tai yang

Cartoonish fights
It opens with people flying and sword fighting over the credits. A man walks toward the town of his childhood. There is an unfortunate flashback to a sad child who is offered food but refuses some charity. An adult male talks to him and takes him under his wing. This would probably be cause for arrest these days but it was a different world back then. He gives the kid a map to a valuable treasure. Our guy is that kid still treasure hunting.

Suddenly cut to a fantasy scene. Guys in red fight girls in white. Then another guy in a big hat enters. Everyone seems to be looking for someone else. The girl in the moon comes down and kills our guy. They say he is buried but he is alive and unharmed in the next scene.

Wire work began as awkward looking but still kind of cool. It could be the most criticized feature of these movies. The movie makers got better at it so it evolved into an art. This movie could be the first attempt to put grace and style into wire work.

The fantasy element quickly became nonsense. That's also when the fights became special effects like sparklers shooting at each other.

My copy is a digital file that plays as wide screen on a HDTV. The film source is scratchy and the color bleeds. I always appreciate wide screen regardless. The subtitles are Chinse and English and difficult to see. I rate it below average and do not recommend it.

Ci xiong shuang sha

The story gets in the way of the action
It starts in the mountains with Beardie and gang. Beardie wants the list of the rebel's names. Who keeps making these lists? Don't they know by now it is a bad idea? So we start with the old Ching versus Ming plot that's been done so often I forgot which ones are the good guys. A bigger gang shows up to fight Beardie. The list ends up hidden in a tree knot hole.

Chan Sing seeks John Liu. John has met a girl. They are attacked by "woodcutters" and John defeats them all just using kicks. Cut to Angela at a teahouse discussing the rebellion. John arrives with the girl and Angela seems jealous. John has decided he will no longer fight. In these movies the decision not to fight always leads to many fights. Angela's gang is attacked and a new guy all in silver, Wen Chiang-Long appears and helps. Angela's gang kidnaps John's girl to get him to fight. Angela gets romantic with Wen Chiang-Long and teaches him the family style. John also gets framed for murder.

Things keep getting worse and John is poisoned and Wen Chiang-Long helps him. The final fight is four against the one remaining bad guy. The Crashmasters DVD copy is widescreen dubbed English. It came from film stock but was not restored. This is very evident because each new reel starts off scratchy.

The fights are good. The story suffers from no clear protagonist/antagonist. The dramatic scenes were padded, too lengthy, and therefore less dramatic.

Gui ma da xia

Sme comedy with your martial arts
Grandfather is bringing Doris to the market so the man who can beat her at kung fu gets to marry her. A truly diverse selection of martial artists try their best but Doris defeats all but one. Sze-Ma Lung wins a bride but he has important work to do first regarding the Ching versus Ming political situation. Doris stays a step ahead of him.

This is a comedy and some of the gags are lost in the translation and in the culture. Another cultural thing is that a Chinese comedy can turn into a gut-wrenching tragedy in seconds. (And then back to a comedy.)

Lo Lieh appears at the end as the leader of the antagonists for a final fight. The "dancing" in the alternate title comes from the appearance of the couple using hands held together style in kung fu to defeat Lo Lieh.

My copy is a digital file from a Mei Ah laser disk. It is widescreen with hard subtitles. The resolution is good but at times the color seems a bit washed toward green.

Wu xing ba quan

Starts slow and goes nowhere
Two women walking on the beach notice Lo Lieh and have a problem with that. The next girl is a hooker and happy to see him. Lo is the villain and back in town. Our hero washes up on the beach. He becomes the town hero because he knows martial arts.

The movie drags on for twenty minutes before the first fight. The second fight is mostly a slap stick beating. Thai and Japanese fighters are brought in but they fight the same as the Chinese. The action does pick up in the second half but the fights are the same thing over and over with no attempt at originality. The final fight is about twelve minutes long.

My copy is the old Ocean Shores VHS as a digital file with English dub.

I watched it once to write this review, no regrets, but I can't recommend it and doubt I'll ever watch it again.

Feng zhi shen tui tian fo zhang

One like a thousand others
A guy rides a horse over the opening credits then checks into an inn for the night. A messenger gives him a note. He goes sneaking about someone's house and is attacked by the guards. Lung Wei enters and demands "the list of names". It all ends up about revenge.

The run time is only about 78 minutes yet the scenes are still padded. There are far too many characters and the story wanders to dead ends. I prefer gratuitous nudity for filler material.

The fights all looked alike and lacked any attempt at originality. The movie ended with the standard fight outside on a lonely hilltop.

My copy is a digital file that plays on a HDTV as a poor resolution square picture typical of a VHS tape that was copied five times. The movie seems to have come by way of South Korea because of the hardsubs. The dialog is English dubbed.

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