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Iron Fisted Eagle's Claw (1979) Directed by: To Lo-Po

Chi Kuan-Chun and Bruce Leung plays two martial artists getting by performing demonstrations in the streets. They walk into a town run with an iron fist (or eagle's claw) by Chen Sing's Tiger and when the local militia leader is presumed dead, the two steps into his shoes... in comedic fashion. The interplay between the leads is at first fairly energetic but the effect becomes tiring quickly. Especially so since Leung is extremely broad and clownish. Iron Fisted Eagle's Claw really doesn't stand much of a chance to matter because of this in addition to an extremely low budget but it comes through action-wise. At first the choreography tends to be slow despite the detailed, complex movements but whenever Chi Kuan-Chun and Leung are involved, speed and intricacy is put into a somewhat higher gear. Best showcased during the ferocious finale with the two fighting Chen Sing.

Iron Man (1973) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

Also known as Chinese Iron Man, Joseph Kuo doesn't complicate matters in this Fist Of Fury-like (very alike) basher where the evil Japanese and Chinese (the little, common man) clash. Main character Liang Hsiao Hu (Man Kong-Leung) is fed up with the Japanese hassling the staff at the local restaurant where he's the cook and proceeds to beat them up with a bit of Chinese fury. Now hunted, the clash also comes down to which martial arts school is the strongest, leading to a reel structured around the good ol' tournament fight...

Low budget and lacking care in the period detail (the police uniforms doesn't exactly fit the 1920-30s period the movie is set in), Kuo instead is content to let his action team loose in multiple, long scenes relying more on bashing than techniques. It's a bit draining but overall effectively furious as the story dictates.

Iron Mistress (1969) Directed by: Sung Chuen-Sau

The mix of a rebel fighting against oppressors-story gets for at least a few reels a character spin worthy of admiration. Sung Chuen-Sau, director of Brigitte Lin's debut movie Outside The Window, adheres to genre staples technically by having classical Chinese instruments on the soundtrack to add beats to the action (which is intense and often excellent for 1969). Also showcasing a well-directed and shot movie, the best stretch comes during a story-strand where Iron Lady (Han Hsiang-Chin) is contemplating how she and others around her should should firmly decide upon issues of a common life. Essentially, how to choose a man, even under these circumstances. Combine it with an atmospheric attack on their camp and you have a standout movie that unfortunately doesn't live up to this potential as it rolls along. Dealing with possible alliances, betrayal etc, it may culminate in a fine finale but it's also downright confusing to follow to an extent that hurt matters enough. Partially successful doesn't in this case get you a higher score. Also starring King Hu regular Pai Ying.

The Iron Monkey (1977) Directed by: Chen Kuan-Tai

And why should you sometimes even attempt to reinvent the wheel? Chen Kuan-Tai proves this as the setup of eeeeevil Ching's taking out his family leading to Shaolin temple training and working for the enemy in order to get revenge is strong for a couple of distinct things that can sit proudly to the action. We know the Ching's were evil but playing up this fact neatly via a gritty and more bleak world than usual (plus the casting of Wilson Tong and Leung Kar-Yan helps) aids the vision of revenge reflected in the action. Being highly iconic and able himself, Chen Kuan-Tai escalates the fury nicely throughout where revenge is akin to animalistic violence and as ordinary as the vision in The Iron Monkey feels, it's also highly honed and worthy of its praise from the fan community.

Iron Ox, The Tiger's Killer (1974) Directed by: Tien Han

"Blessed" with the revenge template, this made in Taiwan martial arts production looks, feels and is crummy but possesses some interesting narrative touches and quality fighting nonetheless. Wong Goon-Hung is the student out for revenge (and prior out for control of the province) so in his anti-hero ways he seeks out all men potentially responsible. One confrontation has him betting his blood and life so it's asides like this that makes one raise eyebrows. All is a backdrop for excessive fighting though and despite no true variation being evident (i.e. swingy arms and kicking), the length of each fight is welcome as it's totally ferocious and intense. This is fighting, not ballet and having the action for instance take place on a moving cart, on a collapsing roof and amongst farm animals adds excitement to what shouldn't have been approached as a standout. When all bashing is said and done, Iron Ox, The Tiger's Killer is.

Ironside 426 (1977) Directed by: Lam Kwok-Cheung

Jason Pai goes undercover in the triads, rises through the ranks and initiates romance so the mission becomes too personal. Opening strong with violence and exploitation elements, the urban street level is compelling but story interest is low and standard story developments along the way (gang rivalry, fights etc) makes this an early but not essential undercover story. Man On The Brink and City On Fire took care of that need instead. Lam Kwkok-Cheung also helmed Enter The Game Of Death and Mr. Big (also starring Pai).

The Iron Superman (197?) Directed by: ?

Featuring action- and effects footage from the Japanese TV-series Super Robot Mach Baron, The Iron Superman is a Taiwanese feature re-edit with local actors inserted into the place of the original Japanese talent (including Paul Chun and Jamie Luk). Seemingly using a whole bunch of plot strands from the TV show for the 80 minute running time, it's surprisingly coherent, well edited in terms of matching the original footage and paced in a dizzying manner. Called The Super Weapon in this movie, the Red Baron is operated by Kay who's after revenge for his parents who died at the hand of robots in the Bermuda Triangle. Joining the team the Professor (Jamie Luk) has set up, they do numerous battle with the Coordinator's robot army while also trying to save hostages in his grip and ultimately the life of the Professor. No rules seemed to exist on Japanese TV, just throw anything on there as long it's creative and the miniatures- and suit action is incredible to watch. With a sense of excitement and spectacle, it's dizzying in the most splendid of ways and it's also hard to forget Taiwan tried to make something a little bit of their own when the star is still the original elements. Oh seeing our main, very well dressed hero along with the goofy cop played by Paul Chun battle henchmen in American football gear (who also have exploding footballs at their disposal) makes you appreciate the human effort for a while and the big, always different coloured hair of the Coordinator makes for a nice inclusion as well as the jazz score to accompany the action. It makes you interested from a market perspective to look at The Iron Superman and interested to see Super Robot Mach Baron in its original form.

The Island (1985) Directed by: Leung Po-Chi

image stolen with permission from Weird Asia

D & B produced this tale of island terror with Leung Po-Chi at the helm. John Shum leads an expedition to an supposedly deserted island only to find out that it's inhabited by a group of seriously demented characters, lead by Peter Chan Lung. This is a family that stays together, slays together and when the youngest one is refused in marriage to one of the young girls of the troupe, they turn into axe-wielding maniacs together.

Clearly inspired by The Texas Chainsaw Massacre or rather it needs to be since D & B weren't providing a large budget, Po Chih-Lung does sporadically well for himself in capturing the dirty and rundown nature of the island. The cinematography offers up some striking images from time to time but the first hour isn't an easy one to get through. Firstly, it does what Dennis Yu's The Beasts did wrong a few years before. Namely that of portraying the murderous island inhabitants in the most outrageous ways possible. That choice quickly destroys any notion of shock or terror and one wonders if this is comedic relief, in a twisted way. Hong Kong filmmakers often seems desperate to include laughs whenever they can so it's not a far fetched notion. Leung Po-Chi also pads out the various encounters with the freaky family way too long and it's not until the hour mark that the horror truly begins. Po hits a decent stride that includes effective detours into violence where the effect is of importance, not the special effect. Now if those pesky villains actually had been a disturbing bunch, The Island could've emerged out as something more substantial. Today, it stands as a passable diversion for those seeking out straight faced Hong Kong horror.

John Shum anchors the movie surprisingly well, going from suitably geeky to not so much a superhero but a protector of these youths. One of the more believable aspects of Leung Po-Chi's film. Sadly, it is a definite step-down and disappointment considering Po the year before directed the award winning drama Hong Kong 1941, starring Chow Yun-Fat.

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Itchy Fingers (1979) Directed by: Leung Po-Chi

It may have been done for the Lunar New Year season but there's little sparks or holiday entertainment present for a good hour but then Leung Po-Chi (Hong Kong 1941) snaps Itchy Fingers out of its dormant state. Roy Chiao is the police chasing thief and safe-expert Hsien (Richard Ng) but when Hsien is made the scapegoat of a diamond heist orchestrated by the jeweler himself, Mr Liu (Fung Yuen-Chuen), both sides of the law co-operates to set matters straight...

In and out of various clothes such as the Game Of Death tracksuit and depicting them as Indians and oil sheiks, eventually when our leading duo gets to the safe with the diamond of all diamonds, Leung Po-Chi orchestrates some clever devices such as the helium outfits to avoid touching the floor that triggers an alarm and a sense of breezy fun finally enters. Earlier in Hsien's hideout, Chiao also goes through a crash course in thievery in a VERY well equipped, grungy hideout. A trek not quite worth it but the performers make a third worthwhile. Co-starring Cora Miao and featuring John Woo in a cameo as a triad boss on a lorry!

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It's A Drink! It's A Bomb! (1985) Directed by: David Chung

Bicyclist Cat (Maggie Cheung credited here as Margaret Cheung), generally obnoxious taxi driver Lion Head (John Shum) and cool scientist Bobo Lam (George Lam) are brought together and hunted by a duo of Japanese killers (Eddy Ko and Elvis Tsui) who thinks they have a soda can that is in fact a bomb they're the buyers of. Lion Head and Bobo also try and romance Cat. Bicker and chases ensues. David Chung (I Love Maria, Magnificent Warriors) went on to make Hong Kong comedies in a bigger fashion but here is a very sparsely done and cast comedy. Literally just a few chases and a lot of high pitched banter, there's not much script taking up the screentime and being sporadically lively only saves the moments where that occurs. It's easy though to appreciate the light tone that in this case means there's no feeling of danger present at all (it was a Christmas release after all). Digestible isn't such a bad thing but there's only minor meat to chew. Elvis Tsui has a character design not so much molded out of the Japanese killer one but the Michael Jackson/synth pop one. Lau Kong, Liu Kai-Chi and Paul Chun also appear. Minor appearances come from Wu Ma, Dennis Chan, Lowell Lo and Hui Siu-Hung.

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