Archive for the Jimmy Wang Yu Category

Review: Golden Swallow (1968)

Posted in Chang Cheh, Cheng Pei Pei, Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh with tags , on December 30, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Golden Swallow Cheng Pei Pei

Starring Cheng Pei Pei, Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh

Fight Choreography by Tang Chia and Liu Chia-Liang

Directed by Chang Cheh

Golden Swallow is the sequel to Come Drink With Me, and Cheng Pei Pei returns as Golden Swallow, a warrior woman who has now found peace with her friend and potential lover Iron Whip Han To (Lo Lieh) who only fights as a last resort. Of course their peaceful existence doesn’t last long, as Silver Roc (Wang Yu) an old lover of Golden Swallow, starts killing members of the evil Golden Dragon Clan and leaving evidence that Golden Swallow was responsible in order to draw her out of hiding for reasons to be revealed. Add to to all of this an evil kung fu lord and dozens of inept bad guys, and what you get is a drastic reduction in the population of China. Oh yeah, and Golden Swallow is torn between both men as she loves them both.

Golden Swallow Lo Lieh

Chang Cheh is very much in his operatic form here, and it’s okay, not great, but shows the greatness that’s to come in his future features. There is some great scenes here, particularly right before Silver Roc’s attack on the Golden Dragon Clan headquarters, as they punish three unfortunate henchmen for sucking really badly, and later as they accuse a young boy of theft, and the fate of the boy and his father really shows how bad the Clan actually is. Jimmy Wang Yu is an unlikeable prick as Silver Roc, and plays that to the hilt, making one wonder what Golden Swallow saw in him to start with. Lo Lieh is his always cool self as Iron Whip, and seems to take a zen approach to everything, which is good considering all the death and violence that will surround all of the characters before the end of the film, and Lo Lieh is able to pull it off with ease. Golden Swallow surprisingly takes a little bit of a backseat to the proceedings here, but she is still the main character, and Cheng Pei Pei plays her as beautiful and fierce, but this time torn between her love for two men, and her confusion is well played.

Golden Swallow Jimmy Wang Yu

The fights are better here than in the previous film, and the choreography has improved, if not the “fighting speed”. The fight at the Peace Tavern (heh) was good, and Cheng Pei Pei did a great job here, and looked much more comfortable with the fight choreography, which is still very dance-like, but showed a little bit more grit than Come Drink With Me. The finale with Jimmy Wang Yu versus a horde of Golden Dragon henchmen is terrific, and a fitting Heroic Bloodshed finale for the film.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 7

Golden Swallow is a fun Heroic Bloodshed film that was a taste of the things Chang Cheh had in store for audiences everywhere featuring a fierce performance by the first lady of Kung-Fu, Cheng Pei Pei!

Next:  Jean Claude Van Damme’s splits make their first appearance in No Retreat, No Surrender!


Review: Wu Xia (2011)

Posted in Donnie Yen, Jimmy Wang Yu, Takeshi Kaneshiro with tags , on May 13, 2012 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Donnie Yen, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Jimmy Wang Yu

Fight Choreography by Donnie Yen

Directed by Peter Chan

Peter Chan is a celebrated director in Hong Kong, and many were looking forward to this different take on the traditional martial arts film where Peter claimed it would really show the damage the body takes from a martial arts blow. I quaked at this, remembering the horrid special effects used in the Jet Li embarassment Romeo Must Die, but since this was Peter Chan I wanted to give this a fair shot.

The injury effects were well done, but the film had a much bigger problem than that.

Wu Xia (meaning martial arts chivalry) begins in the year 1917 as we see the early day to day life of Liu Jin-xi (Yen) and his wife and two kids. He works for a paper mill, and while doing work happens to be in the store when two bandits come by to rob the place. At first Liu hides away, but eventually jumps in frantically to save the storekeeper. In the ensuing scuffle it appears he defeats both men accidently and is proclaimed a hero of the town, but Detective Baiju (Kaneshiro) doesn’t believe that a man with no training would defeat, even on accident, two dangerous martial artists. He begins to hound Liu, trying to get evidence of who Liu really is, but he has no idea that his inquisitive nature would put the entire town in danger, and place the lives of Liu’s family–and his own–in true jeopardy…

Wu Xia starts off being an interesting detective story, even going CSI with the autopsy and recreation scenes. The perspective of the fight between Liu and the two bandits is shown in two different ways, and it’s actually fascinating to watch, until the writer or Peter Chan got bored and wanted to kick some ass, and at this point the film becomes a standard action film, even though the audience may be forgiven for wondering when and how did the initial tone of the film change. This film couldn’t decide what it wanted to be, and traded an original premise for a safe one, and the transition is jarring to the point that it’s difficult to understand the story. Also, the end of the final fight totally jumps the damn shark for a finish that almost tosses reality out of the window. In another film this scene might be cool, but this film’s story required something more realistic.

Donnie Yen does a good job playing Liu, going from being a simple farmer to being a stone cold killer, but the real star is Takeshi Kaneshiro as Bai-ju, the relentless detective who doesn’t know when to walk away, literally. He suffers from a terrible memory of something that happened long ago, and also suffers from a poison that is slowly killing him unless he performs acupuncture on himself regularly. That memory causes him to go investigate even further into Liu even though all signs point to the fact that he should stop. Jimmy Wang Yu (Master of the Flying Guillotine) is great as the Master who wants Liu to return to criminal organization he runs, in the hopes of making Liu his heir. He plays a vicious monster here, capable of violence at any moment.

The fights are well done here, and Donnie Yen does his requisite awesome job, but some post production decision-making was odd, such as dropping frames to speeding up the fights, which wasn’t necessary. It took away the smoothness of Yen’s choreography, and maybe it was an artistic choice, but it was still distracting. The fight between Yen and Wang Yu was good, and Peter Chan really ratchets up the tension for this final fight.

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

CHOREOGRAPHY: (8) Donnie Yen does a great job as always, but the choices made in post takes away from them. Jimmy Wang Yu does a great job to show he’s still The Man. The other stunt performers did a good job keeping up with Donnie Yen’s fight choreography.

STUNTWORK: (7) The rooftop chase scene was fantastic, and the falling stunts were also well done.

STAR POWER: (8) Donnie Yen is still at the top of his game, and Takeshi Kaneshiro is as good as always, and Jimmy Wang Yu–classic.

FINAL GRADE: (8) Wu Xia is a film that had classic written all over it until Peter Chan decided to write something else. A good film that could’ve been great, but will go down as an interesting experiment.

NEXT: Time to tell you the story of Billy Jack!