Archive for the Alexander Fu Sheng Category

Review: Shaolin Martial Arts (1974)

Posted in Alexander Fu Sheng, Chang Cheh, Fung Hak-On, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Simon Yuen, Wang Lung Wei with tags , on November 20, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

Shaolin Martial 3

Starring: Alexander Fu Sheng, Chi Kuan Chun, Gordon Liu, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Wang Lung Wei, Fung Hark-On, Simon Yuen

Fight Choreography by: Chia Tang and Beardy

Directed by Chang Cheh

Here we have yet another film that proves that Alexander Fu Sheng was taken from us far too young. his onscreen demeanor made him an instant star, and he kept getting better with each film, and I think this film sits high on his small filmography…

At the Temple of the God of Chivalry, both Shaolin and Manchus are having a annual ceremony paying tribute, but things go south as the leader of the Manchu’s, Master Yu, complains that he should lead the tribute rather than the representative from Shaolin, younger master Cheng, who is there because the Shaolin leader has taken ill.  Of course you know the Manchus want to start crap just to start crap, and one of their men obliges, taking a perceived insult as a reason to gut one of the Shaolin. This begins a brawl that ends with the authorities showing up and for all intents and purposes taking the side of the Manchus. We soon find out that the General of the Manchus wants to wipe out the Shaolin permanently, and brings in two men to do it, both of them with seemingly invincible marital arts.

As their numbers dwindle, it’s up to a small group of Shaolin fighters to defeat the two invincible fighters by learning new styles of kung fu, but time is running out, and the bodies of the Shaolin are piling up…

shaolin Martial 2

For anyone who is a fan of Shaw Brothers films, this plot line is repeated again and again in many of their films albeit with a tweak here and there. That doesn’t mean the film isn’t entertaining, though. The film does manage to be suspenseful as they are not afraid to kill off a slew of good guy characters. Fu Sheng is his normal playful onscreen persona, and as per usual in the these films (Gordon Liu isn’t The Greatness Yet) Gordon doesn’t stick around as much as I’d like. Of course Simon Yuen makes anything he’s in a better film, and the Old Dirty Bastard once again arrives to raise the film up in the middle before things slow down too much, even though he’s more subdued here as a cantankerous kung fu master.

The fight scenes are really good here, comparable with some of the best moments from Chang Cheh’s many films, particularly the final fight between Beardy and Fu Sheng, which seemed to move faster than the typical Shaw Brothers fights,  but the Mortal Kombat-style finishing moves here are something special, from a disembowelment to eye gouging to absolute testicle destruction that just looked painful as hell. Actually kudos to every actor for making their death scenes look so painful I think I’d rather be eaten by a wild animal than die by kung-fu move.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8.5

Alexander Fu Sheng leads an All Star cast of badasses in a fun but familiar kung fu tale, with a ton of action scenes and memorably bloody deaths.

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Review: The Avenging Eagle (1978)

Posted in Alexander Fu Sheng, Dick Wei, Ti Lung, Wang Lung Wei with tags , , on January 23, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Wang Lung, Dick Wei, Ku Feng

Fight Choreography by Tang Chia and Huang Pei-Chi

Directed By Sun Chung

From the house of Shaw Brothers comes another revenge martial arts film, but with a twist midway through the film that is telegraphed, but no less engaging because of its portent. Two Shaw Brother stalwarts head up yet another great cast…

Ti Lung plays Chik Ming Sing, a member of the Iron Boat Gang and one of their best fighters, part of a group known as the 13 Eagles. He was raised to be an assassin since he was a young orphan taken in by Yoh Xi Hung (Ku Feng), a brutal man who craves more power and uses his assassins to get it. When we meet Chik he is running from the other assassins, and meets a fellow on the road named Homeless (Fu Sheng) who helps him fight off several of the assassins trying to kill him, and in between fights we are told in flashback why they are hunting Chik and why Chik ran away, wanting to change his life. Homeless is trying to kill Yoh Xi Hung for reasons that are revealed toward the end of the film. Chik and Homeless band together to end the Iron Boat Gang once and for all, but Homeless hides a secret that may pit both men against each other once Yoh is defeated…

Operatic. That is the best way to describe this film. This is something that almost could’ve been done as a stage play. The story does a good job of parsing out information regularly but not intrusively, as each time they go into a flashback I found myself more and more interested in what really happened to Chik, and how Homeless plays into the greater scheme of things. It all makes the final fight all the more engrossing as the “twist” is made known to Chik, and while the audience already knows it, we wait in anticipation of what Chik will do when he finds out.

Ti Lung does an excellent job portraying the dark and tortured Chik Ming Sing, who wants to atone for his sins, but at the same time isn’t really interested in dying. This may be Ti Lung’s best acting performance, and he puts his all into the character. Alexander Fu Sheng is…well, in many respects the same kind of smartass character he plays so well, but even here he has a dark aspect that is missing from most of the characters he plays, adding to the overall darkness of the film. Wang Lung is a badass as always, but doesn’t really get much to do here since he’s really main Flunkie number 1 in this flick.

The fights take on the operatic nature of the story, as there is mostly weapon fighting that are very dramatic in execution. The first fight involving Chik and Homeless versus a group of Eagles was well staged, but had interesting moments where the camera went into a freeze frame. I’m not sure what the purpose of it was, and I never understood what effect they were looking to achieve, but it happens only a few times in the film and doesn’t really deter any of the fights. The second fight as the 13 Eagles attack Yu Fai town is epic in nature and well staged as the fight carries across the entire town, and the camerawork is flawless and not once was I confused by where everyone was at. The highlight of this scene is a fantastic fight between Ti Lung and his 3 section staff versus a spear fighter. The choreography is some of the best I’ve seen using those weapons. I love Dick Wei, but I loved the way he got taken down by Fu Sheng even more. It was so simple and quick I laughed out loud when it happened.  All of the fights are good, but more because of what they mean to move the story along, which is the main difference between many Hollywood martial arts films and Shaw Brothers films. The fights are part of the story, and move the story along, not hindering it, or stopping the proceeding to “see a fight scene”. This film marries story and fighting as well as any SB film has.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best):

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) The fights are incredibly well done and feature a myriad of weapons that don’t get a lot of play in martial arts films. It all ties into the overall tone of the film perfectly. Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng really shine in all of their fights.

STUNTWORK: (8) The stunt work rocked in this film. The stuntmen didn’t overact or react too badly, and really acted their death scenes with aplomb (much like a stage play). There wasn’t too many falls, but the ones that were there were executed well.

STAR POWER: (10) Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Ku Feng, with smaller parts by Dick Wei and Wang Lung? All at the height of their popularity during the Shaw Brothers era.

FINAL GRADE: (9) A great revenge story featuring the best performance of Ti Lung’s career, and Alexander Fu Sheng gets to show he can act too. Wall to Wall fights that will have you on the edge of your seat. Required viewing.

 

Review: Five Shaolin Masters (1974)

Posted in Alexander Fu Sheng, Chaing Tao, Chang Cheh, Chi Kuan-Chun, David Chiang, Fung Hak-On, Gordon Liu, Lar Kar Wing, Lau Kar Leung, Leung Kar Yan (Beardy), Meng Fei, Ti Lung, Tsai Hung, Wang Lung Wei with tags , , on December 5, 2011 by Michael S. Moore

Starring David Chaing, Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Wang Lung, Gordon Liu, Liang Chia-Jen (Beardy), Meng Fei, Chi Kuan-Chun, Fung Hark On, Chiang Tao, Tsai Hung

Fight Choreography by Lau Kar Leung and Lar Kar Wing

Directed by Chang Cheh

The name Shaw Brothers has long been synonymous with kung-fu films and for good reason. Run Run Shaw and his brother Runme forged martial arts films into what they are today, and really created the studio system for them in Hong Kong. For that alone we should all bow down and worship them…forever. Not all of their films were great, and many were not good in relation to the fact that they churned out what seemed like hundreds, but when they struck gold boy did they ever, and directors like King Hu and  Chang Cheh are many of the reasons why, and in 1974 Chang Cheh got together an all star cast in a film about Shaolin revenge that thrills with wall to wall action…

The story opens during the Qing Dynasty, where the Manchus attacked the Shaolin Temple and kills everyone there–except five of them, of course. The opening escape of the Shaolin is a thrilling way to showcase the cast while rolling the opening credits at the same time. We are introduced to: Hu Dedi (Chaing), the leader of the group, the young idiot Mao Chao-Hsing, Tsai Te-Chung (Lung), Fang Ta-Hung (Fei), and Li Shih-Kai (Kuan -Chun) as they are the last to escape the temple, and are pursued by a cast just as good as the heroes, led by Chiang Tao, the always dependable Fung Hark-On, Tsai Hung, Beardy, and Wang Lung. Now if that’s not an all-star group of villains I don’t know what is.

The Five Shaolin are good, but not good enough to defeat the Emperor’s men, and they go into hiding, meeting up with other Shaolin who have taken to hiding in an attempt to regroup and attack the Emperors’ men. This is tougher than it seems as some of the Shaolin and the local rebels have ideas of their own, and there is even a shaolin traitor who ratted them out to the Manchus, Ma Fu-Yi (Wang Lung). Hu Dedi tries to garner the support of Chief Gao, leader of a group of rebels, but Gao has a little bit of bitch in him, and decides he wants Hu to kill the local magistrate, who just happens to be the very badasses that the Shaolin ran away from in the first place. Compounding matters is Mao “I’m the young idiot of this film” Chao-Hsing, who in his bravado and yes, idiocy, gets captured but not before finding the Shaolin traitor. Hu Dedi and Chief Gao rescue him, but it costs Gao his life. Reunited with the other Five Shaolin Masters, they go to train, and plan to take on the Manchus in a fight to the finish…

Five Shaolin Masters has that familiar theme that runs through many Shaw Brothers film of brothers-at-arms and the bonds of fellowship even as Chang Cheh throws so many martial arts fight scenes into this film that it would satiate even the most ravenous kung-fu film buff. The acting runs the gamut, but each actor more or less plays their best character-type: David Chaing as the stoic hero, Ti Lung as another stoic hero, Chaing Tao as a villainous douchebag, and Fung Hark-On as the bad guy badass. The only problem I had was with Alexander Fu Sheng, who always looked as if he was too hot, and never really bothers to wear a shirt, which he seems to opt out of for any film he makes. C’mon Alex, those abs aren’t that great! His character irked me the entire film, which may have been the intent, as he acted like a knucklehead, and an overconfident knucklehead at that. I’m convinced Cheh knew this as whenever Fu Sheng fights he gets some children-sounding music that seems to say “ yes, he’s the comedy relief of this film”. Gordon Liu has a cameo, and looked like he stumbled on set from a different film, and they just decided to use him in this one.

The camera work is great, and captures the fights in all of their ShawScope glory, of which there is many. The slow parts aren’t very long, and the fights, from the opening to the end, escalate the complexity and astounding choreography perfectly. Lau Kar Leung was always one of better choreographers from the Shaw Brothers stable, and he shows why. The villains are damn tough, and the fights show this appropriately, and the choreography flows brilliantly so that at all times you know what each fighter is doing and more importantly why, rather than being a bunch of pretty movements. My favorite fight? The fight that begins to save Mao. Beardy really shows his stuff here, as does Wang Lung. The Final fight is–I have trouble choosing one over the other, so I won’t! The final fight does have one of the most painful kills ever committed to films. Gentlemen, you may want to look away at that part. You’ll know what I mean.

(On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best)

CHOREOGRAPHY: (10) Lau Kar Leung does some of his very best work here, and is nothing short of tremendous, and with so many fights, they all move the story at the same time giving something different each time.

STUNTWORK: (9) The stuntmen bring some great stuntwork and falls, and yes, even their overacting for their death scenes has a brilliance all their own. Kudos to the poor bastard at the beginning of the film who rolls himself down a fight of concrete stairs. I hope they bought him a beer.

STAR POWER: (10) Are you kidding me? Check that cast list again!

FINAL GRADE: (10) This is one of the best of the Shaw Brothers output. An average story surrounded by tremendous martial arts fight scenes and stars. A must see for any martial arts film enthusiast.