Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Blood of the Dragon, Zhui ming qiang

(1971) film review by Wmpyr

I was reluctant to see this film because on IMDB they said it was quite gory, and I am not a fan of gory films. Having said that, I really like Five Deadly Venoms and I felt that this film was far less gory than that. There are some scenes about half way into the film that is shot way too dark in the night. And the overall story is not to my taste, but the electric guitar music was pretty cool, I found the little kid to be annoying, I felt that the plot was a little too politically complicated than it needed to be, but when I think about it, the story is really not that bad. A dying man has an important list in bamboo which he gives to a kid. Soon the Prince's men are trying to take the list, and the spear wielding main character protects the kid. They try to deliver the list back to the Prince (yes there is a communication error) and the Prince is interested in having revenge for his father who was defeated by the spear man. The Prince's father had a betrayer, turned to the Mongols, who is now after the list and basically the spear man is cornered inside a restaurant wounded with a quasi love interest. After talking to the kid, the Prince comes to the spear man's aid only with medicine, it would have been nice to see the two finally team up. The final battle is with the spear man up against the betrayer and his goons who uses a sword whip. A cool weapon which is one of the things that makes the film worth it. In the end the spear man, Master Long the White Dragon wins, freaking impales the betrayer with his spear and lifts him up and throws him! After that the spear man dies standing like a true hero. The fight between the spear man and the father of the Prince mentions how the father has a magical sword. It only gets mentioned but we never really see anything. Spear man against the Prince, reveals the sword to be like a cheap magic trick where the sword can catch the spear by letting it go through it like magical rings. All in all, I became disinterested in the film many times, but what kept me going was how super cool the main character was, a true man's man, and how he made the spear look awesome. Kind of made me think of why the spear was so revered in China. The story came across like a fugitive sieged up in a building type movie, which is not my bag of tea, but in the end, I am glad I saw it because it did have some really neat stuff hear and there. Basically I tried to dismiss it but it won me over. So I do recommend it.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Shao Lin Men 1976 The Hand of Death

The Hand of Death AKA Shao Lin men
film review by Wmpyr

I was surprised to see that this film features a very young Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan as supporting cast. The main character is played by Dorian Tan who is known for his amazing kicking skills and we get to see a lot of it especially for the final fight. The story has a lot of politics involved, basically Shaolin supporters have been reduced to guerrilla type fighters and they are trying to get revenge by assassinating the Manchu traitor who is a superb fighter surrounded by many competent guards lead by Sammo Hung who is basically a goon leader. Dorian infiltrates the village that is taken over by the traitor and basically fails at his first assassination attempt, briefly becomes a prisoner, blacksmith Jackie Chan rescues him, then they recruit more people including a sword master, complete with a brief obligatory training sequence, and then take on the traitor for the final epic battle where many of them die. It's kind of a Seven Samurai story in a smaller scale, where they need to recruit fighters to face the bad guys. Not my favorite film of this kind of story, but I have to say that it felt solid, no real negatives here, but the overall experience for me was that this was ok. It was probably really quite solid for back in it's day, I just personally prefer more craziness. Even though I can't say anything bad about it, I'm probably going to forget this one despite a stellar cast, solid production and story. Don't get me wrong I would recommend it, but for my peculiar tastes it was a little lacking in memorable stuff.