Archive for the David Chiang Category

Review: Kung Fu Killer (Kung Fu Jungle) (2014)

Posted in Baoqiang Wang, Bey Logan, Bruce Lee, David Chiang, Donnie Yen, Fan Siu Wong (Louis Fan), Shaw Brothers, Simon Yuen, Xing Yu with tags , on April 23, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, Baoqiang Wang, Louis Fan, Xing Yu, Michelle Bai, David Chiang, Raymond Chow, Yuen Cheung-yan, also with Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Simon Yuen, Andrew Lau, Bruce Law, Bey Logan, Kirk Wong,Teddy Chan, Dante Lam, Billy Chan, and Enoch Chan

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Teddy Chan

Let me start by saying this: Kung Fu Jungle is the best film Donnie Yen has made since any film not named Ip Man and Flashpoint.  Donnie Yen’s output since Ip Man 2 has been a bit underwhelming, but he fires back on all cylinders with this film. A second/third wind to his career? I think this film may be part of the reason he’s on the verge of retirement, and I’ll elaborate my theory on this later in the review.

The film starts as we meet Hahao Mo (Yen) a kung fu master and sometimes police martial arts trainer. He is bloody, and has just been in a fight to prove how good he is, but wound up killing his opponent (Logan) and turns himself into the police. Three years later, Detective Luk Yuen-Sum (Yeung) finds herself on a case involving serial killer Fung Yu-Sau (Wang) who is targeting kung fu masters across the city. Hahao Mo is released early from prison in order to help the police track down this killer, but Hahao knows more than he lets on, and the police increasingly wonder if they can actually trust him, but the bodies left in Fung’s wake start to pile up…

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Kung Fu Jungle is a fantastic action film, and more than that its Donnie Yen and Teddy Chan’s love letter to all the kung fu films that inspired them. Just look at the starring credits above. Jackie Chan is onscreen as Hahao is watching Drunken Master in one scene. In fact, he’s specifically watching the scene where JC goes through the form, one of the best scenes of its kind ever filmed. Then you get to Shaw Brothers favorite David Chiang in a cameo appearance, and then, Raymond Chow appears! The list goes on and on, and I’m sure I missed someone. In fact, the only criticism I have is that some folks were left out. Where was the Greatness (Gordon Liu), and where was Sammo Hung? Jet Li? I suppose in Jet’s case he’s more a contemporary for Yen, so there could be that.

As for the story itself, and this is the genius of the film, is that it’s an homage to dozens of  old school kung fu films where a great kung fu master travels around fighting different schools and killing their masters for the sole purpose of being the best. Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow, Knockabout, Prodigal Son, and so many dozens more have used this same story conceit, and director Teddy Chan brings that same story to the modern day successfully. Donnie Yen is excellent as Hahao, a man who had paid the price and damaged his own soul trying to be the best. Baoqiang is equally good as the killer, whose reasons go beyond just wanting to be the greatest of all. Charlie Yeung also does a great job here, but I kinda think this film missed out in respect to her casting, and I thought Michelle Yeoh may have been the better play here, given the spirit of the movie, but Michelle Bai does the spirit of female action heroes well as Haoho’s love interest, Sinn Ying, and she proves to give Baoqiang a greater challenge than he suspects.

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Louis Fan and Xing Yu are in the film more as extended cameos, and while I enjoyed their presence, I had wished they would have appeared in the film longer.

The fights here are some of the best choreographed fights Yen has put out in some time. The first fight in the prison is terrific, as are all of the fights Baoqiang gets into with his various opponents, but the climactic battle on a busy street between Yen and Baoqiang is truly great and hard hitting, with fantastic movement and speed. THIS is the Donnie Yen of SPL and Flashpoint that had been missing for a little while.

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I said that this film may be contributing to Donnie Yen retiring. I say that because Donnie recently stated that he really has nothing more to say on camera regarding kung fu films. This film expresses his love for the genre and the career its given him as he pays his respects to those that came before him. After Ip Man 3 and this, I’m of the mind that he may be right. His filmography spans just about every type of martial arts film, and I’m not sure there anything else he can make that would be cool without simply spinning his wheels.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Kung Fu Jungle (called Kung Fu Killer by WellGOUSA) is a great piece of entertainment that shows Donnie Yen at his absolute best and writes a thrilling love letter to all martial arts films! You do NOT want to miss this!

Kung Fu Killer will be out in North America tomorrow in select theaters!

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Review: All Men Are Brothers (1975)

Posted in Bolo Yeung, Chang Cheh, Chen Kuan-Tai, David Chiang on March 20, 2015 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chen Kuan Tai, Wai- Man Chan, Lo Wai, Tatsuro Tamba, Lei Lung, Danny Lee, Bolo Yeung, Chin Feng, Zhu Mu, Fan Mei-sheng, and still pretty much anyone working for the Shaw Brothers not named Wu Ma.

Fight Choreography by Liu Chia-Liang

Directed by Chang Cheh and Wu Ma (he’s still there)

Chiga-Chiga-Cha!

That is the theme music whenever Yen Ching (Chiang) shows up in this film. All Men are Brothers is the direct sequel to The Water Margin, itself one of the Four Great Classics of Chinese literature, once again bringing us back to the adventure of the 108 Outlaws of Mount Liang, as we pick up after some time with the giant cast, as Yen Ching is approached by the Emperor, who offers amnesty to the outlaws if they do a job for him, mounting and assault on an impregnable fortress of invaders called Fang La in a campaign that is suicide even at the best of times. So of course the 108 outlaws take the challenge, and mount an epic battle to the end to defeat the invaders and with their amnesty.

Things don’t go as planned as the outlaws find that Fang La lives up to its reputation, but a small group led by Yen Ching enter the fortress in disguise, but things still go wrong, and the assault on the fortress must begin within, as the rest of the 108 outlaw are en route, needing the gates to be opened to mount a proper assault or be slaughtered. Thus, the group that entered into the fortress lead an attack that makes them legendary…

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The acting here is great, and it’s fantastic to see the 108 outlaws again, but it’s bittersweet, as this is truly a Heroic Bloodshed movie, and the majority of those that survived The Water Margin don’t make it here, but go out in a whirlwind of heroic actions. David Chiang is the more up-front star here, and while Ti Liung is touted a lot, he really doesn’t show up as much. Fan Mei-Cheng actually shows up quite a bit more as the lunkhead Black Whirlwind, and his character, whom I loved in the first film, I screamed at in this film as he is the one who truly messes things up and starts the road to death that claim the majority of the cast. Chang Cheh once again brings his “A” game, as all of the Shaw Brothers actors, and the story moves along briskly enough. It was also great to see the great Bolo Yeung, although having him defeating in a wrestling match with David Chiang stretches the limits of all believability.

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The fights here are good, exactly what one expects from Liu Chia-Liang. This film is more of a war film than anything else, and there is no real standout except for maybe the battle between Chen Kuan Tai and the two generals. Weapon fights rule the day here, mostly consisting of swords and spears, and a ball and chain in once scene. All expertly done, but no real standout sequence.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

A well made sequel to my favorite of all the Shaw Brothers films and brings the story of the 108 Outlaws to a spectacular blood-drenched end.

The Water Margin (1972)

Posted in Chen Kuan-Tai, David Chiang, Ti Lung, Wu Ma with tags , on December 12, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

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Starring Ku Feng, Chin Feng, Yueh Hua, Fen Mei Sheng, Ti Lung, David Chiang, Lily Ho, Cheng Lei, Lui Tan, Wu Ma, Wang Chung, Peng Peng, Lo Wei, Chen Kuan Tai, and pretty much anyone who has ever been in a Shaw Brothers film.

Fight Choreography by

Directed by Chang Cheh

THE MOUNTAIN BROTHERS ARE ALL HERE!

Those words reverberated through me at the age of eight, as this was the first martial arts film I over watched with my Dad, the first of many during Kung-Fu Saturdays, and I had visions of characters with such awesome names as Young Dragon, Red-Haired Devil and moves with names like the 13 Throws of Young Dragon, The Triple Kick Of Death. I had never seen anything like it. I found it so much more interesting than any cartoon or comic book at the time. Little did I know who much this film would help forge who I am today. So is it as good as I remembered it?

The film starts with introductions for each character, and dang it, it’s an hour into the film before they are done with them! It’s actually kinda funny and would make a great drinking game. “Drink every time you see a Chen or Feng on screen!” You’d be drunk ten minutes into the film!

We are introduced to the 108 bandits who are more freedom fighters than anything else: the Liang Shan fighters. We pick up where their leader, Chao Gai, is hunted down and killed by Shi Wen Gong for the Zeng Family, a powerful and corrupt family aligned with the government. The other LiangShan fighters vow vengeance, but first they must find a fighter who is the equal of Shi Wen Gong. They find such a fighter in Lu Chun I and his protege , Yen Ching but Lu Chun I is in trouble himself as he is betrayed by his wife and her lover, his own steward. The rest of the film deals as the fighters of Liang Shan take their revenge and save Lu Junyi as well…

The film itself it as epic a Shaw Brothers film as you’ll ever find. You’ll probably find every location on the Shaw Brothers lot has been used, casts of hundreds (cannon fodder baddies, but whatever) and colorful characters with names like The Timely Rain, Red-Haired Demon, Black Whirlwind, The Rash, The Pallid, and so so many more. The film mostly concentrates on Lu Chun I and Yen Ching, but that’s okay because everyone is larger than life in this film, and it reminds me of the American Film All Quiet on The Western Front, which starred most of the actors of the day. The deaths are all operatic and funny to watch as characters are skewered multiple times but have enough gumption to say something or do something before expiring, even with things like spears, arrows, and axes in their bodies! Chang Cheh is the best of the Shaw Brothers directors, and his skills are on full display here, using every camera angle and style in the book to deliver an epic film, at a time when “epic” and kung-fu movies were not synonymous.

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The music deserves a mention here as well. It’s a different animal all together, and has some really funky themes, like the Chiga-Chiga-Cha! whenever Yen Ching shows up, and the soulful singing that occurs throughout the film. It all fits perfectly, but on paper you wouldn’t think so.

The fights are pretty good, but it’s the finale of the film where it all comes together and shines brightly. It’s all full of Shaw Brothers goodness. Ti Lung gets the most work here, and looks great doing it. It’s actually funny to see the Shi Wen Gong call out the moves for his students to watch out for…right before the move actually happens, which winds up killing his students! There are better fights in other Shaw Brothers films, but it’s the story, not the fights, that is the winner here.

I know this may be a biased review by me, but…

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 10

One of the absolute best of the Shaw Brothers library. Full of operatic acting and epic battle sequences and fights, Chang Cheh pulls out the stops to deliver an epic tale of honor, loyalty, and justice!

Review: Once Upon A Time In China 2 (1991)

Posted in David Chiang, Donnie Yen, Jet Li, Tsui Hark, Xin Xin Xiong, Yuen Woo Ping with tags , , on June 25, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Donnie Yen, David Chiang, Xin Xin Xiong, Mok Siu Chung, Zhang Tie Lin

Fight Choreography By: Yuen Woo Ping, Donnie Yen

Directed By Tsui Hark

In the first film Wong Fei Hung (Li) was resistant to the westernization of China, while Aunt Yee and Bucktooth So embraced it. The sequel picks up some time later, and Fei-Hung’s views have evolved, and while he is still hesitant, he tries to get used to western customs and doesn’t quite view it as such a detriment to destroying Chinese culture as he once did, but upon arriving with Aunt Yee (Kwan) and Foon (now played by Mok Siu Chung, taking over for Yuen Biao) in Canton they discover a cult called the White Lotus, who have extreme views about westernization, and want to crush and destroy it, and anyone, Chinese or other, who represent it. The film opens with the White Lotus showing exactly how extreme they are in a scene where they burn western paintings, clocks, and even an American dog, which is just wrong.

Once again Aunt Yee, who dresses in western clothing, finds herself abused and embarassed by the locals, who consider her a traitor, many supporters of the White Lotus, and she finds herself quickly in their crosshairs. things get complicated, and continue to do so as Wong Fei Hung and goon attend a medical conference that gets attacked by the White Lotus, and they receive help from Dr. Sun (Zhang) who turns out to be more than just a simple doctor, and secretly plots against the White Lotus with his cohort Luk Ho Dung (Chiang). Wong Fei-Hung’s plate gets even fuller as he tries to protect them on their mission and protect Foon and Yee (not to mention his feelings for Yee) and comes into contention with the local constable Commander Lan (Yen), whose true allegiances may very well be to the White Lotus…

Once again Jet Li is fantastic as the reserved Master Wong Fei-Hung, and brings the same grace and intelligence to the character as he did in the original. Rosamund Kwan also does a great job again as Aunt Yee, but I found Mok Siu Ching not nearly as good a Foon as Yuen Biao was. Some of that may be that the story “dumbed down” the character of Foon, and didn’t seem to reflect the character growth he had in the first film. Donnie Yen was pretty good as the commander, but is more of a typical bad guy rather than anything special. It was great to see David Chiang (The Water Margin, Five Shaolin Masters) on film side by side with Jet Li, even if David didn’t fight. One thing I found missing from the original was a truly great scene like the one Bucktooth So had in the first film regarding a dying patient. In fact I missed So immensely in this film, since he represented a Chinese man who was so westernized he couldn’t read or speak Chinese very well.

The fights are also great, and more of them than in the first film, but I’m not so sure the fights are better. There is a little more wirework, particularly at the end fight in the White Lotus temple. The fights versus Donnie Yen was a great showcase of staff fighting, some of the best ever done in film, but I was really hoping for a hand-to-hand confrontation between the two, but the White Lotus fight made up for some of that. Woo Ping pulls off some imaginative fights, the most imagination saved for the White Lotus temple fight and the siege on the Consulate building. The best thing is these fights are still in service to the story, and not the other way around.

Once again fellow blogger Dangerous Meredith really breaks down these fights, and you can read those here.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (9) Jet Li had one of the best staff fights versus Donnie Yen, but I wish Donnie had more to do. The White Lotus and Consulate fights were well done and brought the right amount of tension and excitement to the film.  Jet Li and Woo Ping still make magic together.

STUNTWORK: (9) The stunts were pretty elaborate in regards to the fight choreography, which they pulled off brilliantly. Their best work came with the Temple Fight and Consulate attacks.

STAR POWER: (10) Jet Li was working on all cylinders here, and Donnie Yen is now at the top of his game, but his talents were evident even here. Rosamund Kwan was good, but it was a real treat to see David Chiang in kung-fu film again!

FINAL GRADE: (9) Not quite as good as the original by a hair, Once Upon A Time in China 2 is a great film that successfully continues (and evolves) the story of Wong Fei-Hung and his friends.

NEXT: Jean-Claude Van Damme takes on half of Thailand in Kickboxer!

Review: Blood Brothers (1973)

Posted in Chang Cheh, Chen Kuan-Tai, David Chiang, Ti Lung with tags , , on January 30, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Kuan Tai Chen, Ti Lung, David Chaing, Ching Li

Fight Choreography by Liu Chia-Liang, Tang Chia

Directed by Chang Cheh

Chang Cheh is widely considered the “Godfather of Hong Kong Cinema” and for a good reason. He’s had over 100 films within the Shaw Brothers stable, and helped to create the Shaw Brothers “brand”, making some of the most recognized old school kung fu films out there, but few costumed epics are as dark and unforgiving as Blood Brothers.

David Chiang and Kuan Tai Chen star as Chang Wen Hsiang and Huang Chang respectively, two thieves during the Ching dynasty who try to rob the wrong man in Ma Hsin I (Ti Lung). Ma’s kung fu turns out to be far better than they expected and so they decide to team up with Ma to defeat some of the other bandit gangs and bring them under their banner, or more to the point, Ma’s. The seeds of evil are planted as Ma begins to covet Huang’s wife Mi Lan (Ching Li) who also falls in love with Ma. Ma decides to take the officer’s exam to gain more power as an official, and has Chang and Huang watch over the gang until he calls for them. Some time later finds Chang and Huang being called to take the gang to Ma, who will now make the soldiers for his army. Ma still covets Huang’s wife, without Huang noticing, and Ma hatches a plan so that he and Mi Lan can be together forever with unforeseen and tragic consequences…

One note: This is one downer of a film, a greek tragedy in many respects. It’s dark and only gets darker, mainly due to the performances of the leads. Ti Lung, in one if his few villain roles, really does a fantastic job as Ma Hsin I, an ambitious man who wants to climb higher and higher, and isn’t afraid to step on his friends to do so. He never sees himself as a villain, but as a man who believes that he is deserving of anything he tries to attain. Kuan Tai Chen probably had the easiest role as happily ignorant Huang Chang, a fun loving man who doesn’t truly understand the depths of his wife’s and Ma’s betrayal of him until it is far, far too late. David Chaing also gives one of his best performances as his cousin and friend, and the one who figures out what is going on and is too late to stop it. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders as the film progresses, and his burden is painted all over Chaing’s face in every scene.

The genius of the film rests with the fact that we know early on Ma’s ambitions in regards to Mi Lan, but the suspense is in waiting for the dominoes to fall as Chang and Huang realize what’s been happening, and what their response will be to their betrayals. Chang Cheh’s cinematography shines in freeze frames and quick zooms that never takes us away from the action. The fight choreography is good but not great. The fights are mostly weapon fights, but what sells them are the actors. Of all of them Kuan Tai Chen has the best fights, particularly toward the end. The final fight of the film is also good but better fight choreography can be found in other films, but the acting during the final fight is exceptional. both David Chiang and Ti Lung sell those scenes as two men who know that no matter what happens the endgame of the fight will remain the same, but it doesn’t matter.

Blood Brothers is a look into a bond between men that is destroyed by one brother’s envy. One of Chang Cheh’s best.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) The fights are good and carry the story along. The weapon scenes are done well, as are the giant battles between any of the main stars and the cannon fodder.

STUNTWORK: (8) Also good work by all involved. The giant battles really show the dedication of these guys to making it all look good. Especially scenes where they roll down hills, and they do this a few times.

STAR POWER: (10) David Chaing, Ti Lung and Kuan Tai Chen reached new heights of stardom after this film, and cemented their place as Shaw Brothers stars.

FINAL GRADE: (9) Blood Brothers is a film that features good fights, but the operatic story and acting are what make this movie a martial arts classic.

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.