Archive for the Wang Lung Wei Category

Review: Clan of the White Lotus (1980)

Posted in Gordon Liu, Kara Hui, Lo Lieh, Lui Chia-Liang, Wang Lung Wei with tags , on October 1, 2018 by Michael S. Moore

Starring Gordon Liu, Lo Lieh, Wang Lung Wei, Kara Hui, King Lee

Fight Choreography by Lui Chia-Liang

Directed by Lo Lieh

Executioners of Shaolin is one of the classic kung-fu films, and created the quintessential white-haired-master-you-should-not-dick-with in Pai Mei. Hell, even Quentin Tarantino brought Pai Mei back in Kill Bill, so you know Pei Mei is an asskicker. But he’s dead, so what to do for a sequel? Can it match the insanity of the original?

Then Lo Lieh shows up and says “hold my beer”.

Gordon Lui (who played a character who got killed off in a hail of arrows in the previous film) takes over as Hung Wei-Tien, one of the two heroes who originally sent Pei Mei and his testicles to the grave. The emperor has decreed that the Shaolin were to be left in peace to rebuild their temples. Of course what’s left of the White Lotus clan ain’t havin’ that, and their new leader, White Lotus (Lo Lieh), who happens to be Pei Mei’s bro-in-arms, goes on a killing spree of Shaolin, and eventually attacks Hung Wei-Tien and his partner Wu Ah Bui (King Lee), and of course Hung Wei-Tien survives, along with Wu Ah Bui’s wife Mei (Hui) and in classic Shaw Brothers magic, Hung Wei-Tien must learn a new style of kung fu in order to beat White Lotus…

The film is a fun mix of crazy kung-fu and funny moments not unlike the previous film. Gordon Lui is his normal self (aka the Greatness) and handles both humorous and dramatic moments with the aplomb we are accustomed to seeing. There are so man good moments, like when Gordon Lui shows up to the White Lotus headquarters like he’s arrived at Golden Corral: they’re serving an all you can eat of ass whoopins and Gordon’s got an empty stomach! Kidding aside, one story conceit that I’m happy they turned on its ear is that for once, a woman (Mei) turns out to be the kung fu teacher Wei-Tien needs to defeat White Lotus, and it’s a refreshing take, even though Kara Hui was still woefully underutilized. Lo Lieh is a right bastard as White Lotus, and does a great job of nearly seeming an invincible force of nature that cannot be defeated. There is a confidence to his directing, but with the resources of the Shaw Brothers he had at the time Lo Lieh should be confident, as everyone was experienced in filming the Shaw Brothers Way, from the producers to the set builders.

Lui Chia-Liang is a legend of martial arts fight choreography, and he bring his amazing fight scenes here as well, building each fight in complexity until he cuts loose during the final confrontation at the end, as Gordon Lui takes on not just White Lotus but his lead henchmen as well, and I actually like his fight with the two swordsmen better than his final fight with White Lotus, particularly when he pulls out the bladed three section staff! This isn’t to say the final fight wasn’t good, because it was great, but for pure kung-fu badassery the swordsmen fight was the best.

Some further rambling thoughts:

It’s just not cool to attack someone while they are naked in a bath. Not even if it’s a evil bastard like White Lotus. Bad form, Hung We-Tien!

The Five Point Exploding Heart technique is alive and well.

So many spectacularly badly acted deaths….it’s so good!

Scene where Gordon rips off White Lotus’ eyebrows, and what he does with them is the stuff of legend.

That ending is pure Kung Fu gold! The Greatness gets to celebrate!

 

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Clan of the White Lotus is a worthy sequel to Executioners from Shaolin, and Lo Lieh makes for an entertaining villain while Gordon Lui does Gordon Lui things, which is always a great thing. Kara Hui is a breath of fresh air as the kung fu master!

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Review: Crippled Avengers (1978)

Posted in Chang Cheh, Chen Kuan-Tai, Chiang Sheng, Dick Wei, Lo Meng (Turbo Law), Philip Kwok, Sun Chiang, Wang Lung Wei with tags on August 18, 2016 by Michael S. Moore

Cripps1

Starring Philip Ko, Lu Feng, Wang Lung Wei, Dick Wei, , Sun Chien, Chen Kuan Tai, Lo Meng, Chiang Sheng

Fight Choreography by Sheng Chiang, Lu Feng, Robert Tai

Directed by Chang Cheh

The opening of Crippled Avengers is a bit different from the Shaw Brothers norm: We see the son and wife of To Tin Tao (Chen) attacked by an evil group called the Tigers of Tian Nan. The wife has her legs cut off and dies, while the son has his hands cut off but lives as Tao returns and straight up kills the three attackers led by the great Dick Wei. What’s cold about this is he actually tells them he’s got 3 kung fu moves, one for each of them, that will kill them, and does exactly that. Tao then vows to give his son mechanical arms and train him in Kung Fu. What’s different about this opening is that many times this is the start of the hero’s story, but here we see the origins of the villains instead.

This is cold, man. Just cold.

This is cold, man. Just cold.

Years later we find that To Tin Tao has become a despot, using his son To Cheng to take over the town they reside in, and they cripple anyone who gets in their way. They start with the sons of the very men who killed Tao’s wife and maimed To Cheng by simply crippling rather than killing them.

Soon they run the town like gangsters, and start their terror by putting out the eyes of a hawker Shun Chen (Ko), making the loudmouth blacksmith deaf and dumb (Meng), A poor nobody named Hu (Chien) who got in their way loses his legs, and the warrior Wang Yi, who tries to take vengeance for the three crippled men is made mentally incapacitated in a method that makes no damn sense. All four men go to Yi’s kung fu Master who teaches them the hawk style, giving each man a method to overcome their disability and kick so, so much ass. They train for years, before returning to town to face To Tin Tao, To Cheng, and Mr. Wan (Wang Lung “finger wag” Wei) for a final showdown…

Cripp2

This is a classic Chang Cheh film down to its bones. Each actor brings themselves to the parts, and it’s fantastic. The story itself is quite good, and while I was sympathetic toward To Tin Tao and To Cheng, it quickly passed as their acts of evil became more and more cruel. Audiences are then given a group of heroes we really want to see win. Philip Ko leads the group and does so well despite the fact he has to act blind, which he does a good job of. But it’s Chiang Sheng who is the standout here, as once he’s injured, he has the mind of a child and fights in a way not unlike Jackie Chan did in films like Young Master and Drunken Master. His acrobatic work is astounding, and he brings a lot of energy into the fight scenes that really didn’t need more! I wasn’t impressed with Chen Kuan Tai or Lu Feng. They are both good villains, but just that. I had hoped after the beginning of the film they would be more complex characters, but they aren’t, and the acting here is pretty one note.

The training sequences of this film are great, and a real standout, as are the various fights were Mr. Wan tries to trap the Avengers only to have them outsmart him at every turn, whittling down his dozens of men until they finally face To Tin Tao. Each fight has a suspense-building mechanism that is appreciated and kept me invested in the fights, and the fights have the trademark Chang Cheh fast paced cadence, so there is no fight that is ever one note or boring.

Yes, The Man With The Iron Fists was influenced greatly by this film. Wish they had paid better attention to the far, far better fights. ( I didn’t have to go there, but I yes did.)

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 9

Another piece of greatness from the Shaw Brothers and Chang Cheh. Philip Ko and company deliver an exciting kung fu film! One of the classics!

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.

Review: Shaolin Kids in Hong Kong (1994)

Posted in Gordon Liu, Philip Kwok, Wang Lung Wei with tags , on September 8, 2014 by Michael S. Moore

2014-09-08 12.18.00

Starring Gordon Liu, Wang Lung Wei, Philip Kwok, Anita Lee, Choi Yue, Lee Hiu-Tung.

Fight Choreography by Philip Kwok

Directed by Stephan Yip Tin-Hang

Shaolin Kids starts at the Shaolin Temple, where Master Chi (Lui) has the unenviable task of trying to train a new generation of shaolin monks. Two of his youngest students, enamored with things like a Nintendo Gameboy, decide that there’s a better world out there and go out to seek their fortune, and so leave for Hong Kong. Master Chi follows them in order to bring them home, but must face his own ignorance of the outside world. The two boys are taken in by a young woman named Money (Lee) but find themselves in trouble when they uncover a belt of counterfeit money, and danger chases them in the form of a local drug boss (Lung Wei), and only Master Chi can save the day. (Of course he can. Like two little kids can take on Wang Lung Wei. Please.)

Shaolin Kids is a really cheap movie that was made to appeal to kids, but there is some casting that just makes you go “this is a kids film?” Aside from the mugging and overacting for the camera, and goofy sound effects, I have to admit I was wanting a hell of a lot more, and with that cast, who could blame me? Gordon Lui is, well, Gordon Lui, or as I like to refer to him, The Greatness. He plays the Shaolin master as well as ever, even in his more sillier scenes. On the other hand, in one section of the film Gordon Lui gets into a scuffle with Philip Kwok, who looked as if he stepped off of another film, and don’t even get me started on Wang Lung Wei. Hell, he does the famous finger wag, even in a damn kids movie! No one escapes the Wang Lung Wei finger wag. The man acted as if he thought he was in Outlaw Brothers 2!

This one is for you, Heroic Sisterhood!

This one is for you, Heroic Sisterhood!

The fights are kidified and relatively bloodless, and the plot is truly silly, but with a decent final bout between Gordon and Wang Lung Wei, I couldn’t complain, except that this is a kids’ movie! The cinematography is shoddy at best, and there is not really anything of any artistic value from a directing standpoint. It’s hard to grade a film like this, as it was meant for kids, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be good. A better director would have made far greater use of his talent.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 3

It’s breezy entertainment meant for the wee ones. Some odd casting keeps things slightly above the kid level. Not really one to recommend. Let the kids watch Kung Fu Panda instead.

Review: Project A 2 (1987)

Posted in Hoi Sang Lee, Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Wai-Man Chan, Wang Lung Wei on March 26, 2013 by Michael S. Moore

Project A 2

Starring Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung, Bill Tung, Rosamund Kwan, Mars, Ken Lo, David Lam, Wang Lung Wei, Hoi Sang Lee, Wai Man Chan

Fight Choreography by Jackie Chan

Directed by Jackie Chan

Project A 2 picks up what seems like moments after the close of Project A: The leftovers of Sam Pau’s men wash up on Hong Kong’s shore, angry a Dragon Ma (Chan) for killing their leader, and vow revenge, but first they have to find Dragon Ma. Meanwhile the police are concerned that there is too much crime in many of their districts, and believe that Inspector Chun (Lam) a cop who seems to always make busts when the media can see it, is somehow connected. The Police Commissioner (Tung) sends in Dragon Ma to pose as a transfer to Chun’s men, but just as Ma thinks he’s got a bead on Chun, he finds that he’s way in over his head when  Chinese revolutionaries are being hunted by the Emperor’s men, and Ma finds himself trying to keep a book that contains the locations of the various rebel cells away from the Emperor’s agents. Of course, mayhem will ensue…

ProjectA2 Wai Man Chan

The story here is simple but a lot of fun. Jackie Chan, is, well, Jackie Chan, and there is nothing wrong about that! Maggie Cheung once again shows her early chemistry opposite the craziness around her, and Rosamund Kwan is as game as she always is. The bad guys were good as well, and who doesn’t love Bill “Uncle Bill” Tung? Jackie continues to show his growth as a filmmaker as his shot compositions–and editing choices–have evolved since the previous film. The biggest problem with this film is that Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao aren’t present to reprise their roles. If you’ve seen the original Project A, you’ll miss them here, but it’s good to see Shaw Brother stalwart Hoi Sang Lee (The 36th Chamber of Shaolin) and Wai Man Chan (Gallants, Five Element Ninja)

Project A2-1

The fights are really good here, the best being the restaurant fight that started as free for all brawl but then features a fantastic fight between Jackie Chan, Wang Lung Wei, and Wai Man Chan. The chase scene with Dragon Ma and Chun and the pirates was also a well done mix of comedy, stunts, and fight choreography, as is the finale. What has to be understood here is that this film was made in 1987, and for those of you who follow my reviews, know that the make-up of Jackie Chan’s films changed in the 90’s, where the stunt work started to outweigh the straight up kung-fu fight scenes, and the stuntmen were spared the more jacked-up stunt work (Nasty falls aside). That doesn’t mean the film isn’t fun, because it is, but for those who are into the more fight-heavy Jackie Chan films may be disappointed.

Kiai-Kick’s Grade: 8

A Jackie Chan joint that features fantastic stunt work and creative fight scenes, and is a precursor to Jackie’s 90’s output. A fun sequel all around.

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.