Is it a historical, costumed kung-fu film or a gender-bending romantic comedy? You decide, but kung-fu film star, writer, and director Lu Chun-ku probably meant it as both. In either case, it’s a delightful and exciting surprise from the man who made Holy Flame Of The Martial World and Bastard Swordsman, starring a cast of both kung-fu stalwarts and incredible beauties -- all obviously having the time of their lives in this unique change of pace.
In the mid-1980's Chu Yuan became internationally famous for starring as the nasty villain in Jackie Chan's groundbreaking worldwide hit, POLICE STORY. But for more than twenty-five years, he was famous as one of Hong Kong’s most respected directors of "Martial-art World" epics — often conceived by his remarkable collaborator, novelist Ku Lung. This was one of their last together for the Shaw Brothers Studio, but it's another revenge and mystery-tinged winner. Liu Yung and Sun Chien (the Korean kicking THE FIVE VENOM from Chang Cheh's internationally popular series) team to investigate the martial-art murders of a supposedly mortally wounded swordsman, only to find deception, double-dealings, imposters, and one deadly duel after another. No less than three choreographers are on hand to handle the multitude of martial arts, making this one of Chu Yuan's most involving and exciting efforts ever.
One of Hong Kong's top action directors of all time, Liu Chia-liang makes a mind-numbing directorial debut in The Spiritual Boxer, which not only quickly established Liu as a genius director but also encouraged other martial art choreographers to take up the directing reigns. It was also the debut film of kung-fu comedienne Wang Yu as the main character, who in reality was part of Liu’s clan of stars that he personally trained for a film career. Its Ghostbusters meets George C. Scott’s The Flim-Flam Man as Wang plays a fake ghost catcher who catches more than he bargained for. With this film, Liu is also credited with introducing comedy in to the kung-fu genre; the pre-cursor for Jackie Chan's kung-fu comedies.
Unarguably the greatest character in kung-fu film history is Huang Fei-hong. Arguably the greatest director of pure kung-fu films is Liu Chia-liang. Putting the two together was natural, since Liu started his career working on the classic Huang, and his family was trained by students of the real Huang Fei-hong! So after his first film as director, THE SPIRITUAL BOXER, was a huge hit, Liu decided to make the greatest tale of Huang and his "sifu" (teacher) ever filmed. He made a star of his adoptive brother, Gordon Liu Chia-hui, in the leading role, and filled the cast with family members, friends, students, and the best Shaw Brothers had to offer. He even played the villain himself. The result was more Liu magic, with an honorable message of righteousness that rings true through the decades.
Gordon Liu Chia-hui, Chen Kuan-tai, Wang Yu, Lily Li
A year before he was to direct King Boxer -- the first Hong Kong kung-fu film ever to break into the international market -- Cheng Chang-ho both wrote and directed this powerful martial arts movie. Ling Yun, of Gun Brothers and Hellgate (among many others), ably plays a magician-warrior who initially protects the villain from an ambush by the title heroes. But after his wife's and friend's deaths, he must fight to set things right.
Yueh Hua, co-star of Clan Of Amazons and Clans Of Intrigue, tears up the screen as a corrupt magistrate, so obsessed with finding a hidden treasure that he not only jails and tortures his daughter's lover, but buries his daughter alive as well! Ironically, it is in her coffin that the secret to the hidden treasure is revealed, setting off a frenzy of destruction. Kung-fu choreographers Chen Ti-ke and Hsu Hsia have their hands full with this tale of martial arts masochism.
Four martial arts experts live in Seoul after the Korean War in the 1950s. One of them inexplicably crosses path with a drug trafficking syndicate, and his three friends have no choice but to fight a brutal battle on his side...
David Chiang, Ti Lung, Wang Chung, Yasuaki Kurata, Chen Kuan-tai
When super director Chang Cheh found new talent and blood with "The Five Venoms" actors, most of which were trained in the highly acrobatic Chinese opera and well versed with exotic martial arts weapons, this created a new spark for his use of bizarre weapons in his films. The Flag Of Iron is one of 20 movies that he directed featuring the utterly flabbergasting and physically exhausting action bits created by these five dudes. You have the good guys from the righteous clan versus the bad guys from the villainous clan and it's so filled with "don't-blink-or-you-will-miss-something" gags, you will need to watch it over and over again so you can see the things you missed.
Kuo Chui , Chang Sheng , Wang Li , Lu Feng , Lung Tien-chiang
Director Chu Yuan reunited with novelist Ku Lung and superstar Ti Lung in this exciting sequel to Clans of Intrigue. Ti returns to our favourite costume drama role and plays the hero, sexy swordsman Chu Liu-hsiang, whose exploits on the battlefield are rivaled by those in the boudoir. This time he travels to the mysterious Island of the Bats, where he encounters treacherous monks, beautiful women, and a strange Prince of the Bats. Filled with non-stop action and erotic romances, the film is definitely an exhilarating feast for the eyes.
The venerated Sun Chung made many different kinds of films for Shaw Brothers, including popular and renowned satirical comedies, contemporary action dramas, and magnificent martial arts movies. This is one of his last of the latter for the studio, so he wanted to have fun... and let the audience share it. Toward that end he cast international favorite Alexander Fu Sheng as the title character who keeps testing the patience (and kung-fu skills) of his father, a small town bonesetter and herbal healer played by award-winning character actor Ku Feng. But when a local dignitary not only smuggles drugs but plans to give a Chinese treasure away to evil outsiders, the father and son unite to take on foreign fighters and even Japanese ninja in a non-stop display of comic action prowess.
When reputable fight choreographer Liu Chia-liang debuted as a director with THE SPIRITUAL BOXER, it not only established him as a superb director, but it also encouraged other martial arts instructors to turn to directing. Plus, it was the first film to introduce comedy into kung-fu so it made sense for Liu to return to that foundation with the same bumbling idiot Wang Yu still not quite getting it when it comes to the affair of ghost control in THE SHADOW BOXING. Liu also brings in both of his brothers Liu Chia-yung and Gordon Liu Chia-hui, which guaranteed that the fights would be an extra notch above magnificent further ensuring that the audience had never seen anything like it before. THE SHADOW BOXING was twice as successful as THE SPIRITUAL BOXER.
Jimmy Wang Yu had become a star in 1965's TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS. He became a superstar in 1967's ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN and 1968's GOLDEN SWALLOW. But this was his first fully realized personal kung-fu vision. Jimmy Wang Yu wrote, directed and starred in this classic favorite as the Chinese kung-fu superman, years before Bruce Lee would become famous for the same themes. He plays the famous Lei Ming, a noble young martial arts student who doesn't know the meaning of giving up. He faces a treacherous, blood-thirsty Japanese karate expert, played, of all people, by Lo Lieh (who was to become The Shaws' first international star in THE KING BOXER just months later). Featuring unforgettable training sequences and many fights, this box office smash would lead to a career unparalleled in its eccentricity and excitement.
Wang Yu, Lo Lieh, Wang Ping, Chao Hsiung, Cheng Lei