# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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5-Pattern Dragon Claws (1983) Directed by: Godfrey Ho

Distributed by Filmark under this title, my belief is that Asso Asia or IFD originally had this Korean martial arts actioner under the title of Dragon Claws and subsequently Filmark got the rights. Regardless, this Dragon Lee/Hwang Jang-Lee martial arts actioner is no rival for the big guns out of Hong Kong or even Taiwan. Thankfully played serious with a straight tone and delivering detailed and physical choreography, especially the finale takes the action up to ferocious and violent levels with some hilarious elements such as Hwang's kicking scorching the chest of his opponents or literally setting them on fire.

The 7 Commandments Of Kung Fu (1979) Directed by: Got Si-Ho

Reportedly borrowing a few beats from the Lee Van Cleef Western Day Of Anger, despite The 7 Commandments Of Kung Fu comes off as channeling the kung-fu comedy formula it's trying to cash in heavily in. It's tired, despite a terrific hand of action-cards. Lee I Min plays a drug store clerk who gets in the middle of badasses duking it out (Lung Fei among others and the main one in white played Chang Yi). He strikes up a friendship with the latter, learns the tricks of the trade but the two will ultimately square off as opponents the more the boy learns of his master's killing ways...

The way too long credits sequence involving hoops and large mantis puppets showcases we have a terrific lead in Lee I-Min when it comes to the physical stuff but a wimpy, annoying AND physical appearance won't light the screen on fire. Nor will excessive laxative jokes but the action, that comes at us in a more steady stream as the movie progresses, is terrific. Chang Yi's danger factor adds to the fights that rarely go into the direction of full comedy and bringing in said hoops and training involving mantises made out of hay does become an image you take away from the film.

7-Man Army (1976) Directed by: Chang Cheh, Wu Ma & Hung Ting-Miu

The bells of patriotism ring loudly throughout Chang Cheh's 7-Man Army. An all-star cast (Ti Lung, David Chiang, Fu Sheng, Chen Kuan-Tai, Chi Kuan-Chun among others) headline this war-action-drama containing enough vistas and military hardware to be classified as an epic. Set in 1933 and depicting the campaign dubbed ‘Defense Of The Great Wall’, a small group defends a strategic point along the Great Wall Of China. Seven versus thousands of soldiers and tanks and there’s room for this to be a fight heavy battlefield as well. 

Co-directed by Wu Ma and Hung Ting-Miu (Rider Of Revenge), there's technical excellence/embarrassment on screen evident early on. Utilising the widescreen format for copious amounts of extras fighting and explosive mayhem is an appealing look but the reactions of those affected by such things as explosions are painfully mistimed. More than once. All that grandeur for nothing it seems and when settling down to explore characters, the film goes into forced flashbacks that manage to add nothing at all other than basic exploration of determined and patriotic characters. Which might in fact be enough for this type of film. It doesn’t add up to an affecting exploration as heroes make their final, brave stand and are even admired by their enemies come ending time.

Combining said mayhem with man to man combat, Chang Cheh manages to unashamedly but successfully push his thematic buttons once more. Few did it as well as Chang Cheh, painting the screen red in blood in the process as our heroes meet their demise. You'll have to disregard a hollow story and the cast looking rather uninspired outside of the action. Once past that, 7-Man Army delivers Chang Cheh basics well enough.

The 8 Masters (1977) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

Shiao Chieh is brought to the Shaolin temple as a youngster in order to avoid the wrath of the 8 masters who wants him to repay a debt his father owes them. Training from this very young age and well into adulthood (where he's played by Carter Wong), the desire of Shiao Chieh's is to become a monk but he is told he has worldly matters to take care of first. So after clearing each chamber the temple holds (often containing bronzemen fighters), he goes out into the world with three commandments: keep the peace, stay patient and forgive offence...

Awesome momentum is maintained by Joseph Kuo (7 Grandmasters, Mystery Of Chess Boxing) whenever having stoneface Carter Wong go through the rigorous training at the temple. It's not insanely creative but still viewers like me with a weakness for training scenes, room with traps etc will get a kick out of the various bronzemen-challenges Wong takes on. Then huge dullness enters in the middle of the film as now the melodrama with Shiao Chieh's family takes center stage and clearly director Kuo is the wrong man to even attempt being serious. Inject a cast like Jack Long or Mark Long and he's got something more bearable. With Carter Wong carrying the load, The 8 Masters is a chunk of boredom to endure until finally Wong faces the entire range of masters in a non-stop fighting reel towards the end. One by one, style by style, standouts include his scenes with Phillip Ko, Chia Ling and when a group of hopping ghouls are the opponents. Finishing off with high pitched melodrama, we're unfortunately reminded why these 90 minutes are such an upwards trek overall.

97 Aces Go Places (1997, Chin Ka-Lok)

Looking at the visual evidence in the 'Aces Go Places'-series re-emergence, I don't think this was made with the classic Sam Hui/Karl Maka/Sylvia Chang action-comedy franchise in mind. Raymond Wong simply wrote and produced a wacky comedy and slapped a new rendition of Hui's theme song on it and presto, you have commercial desperation. Attempting to crank the zany and oddball comedy, much of this fails in the story of the son (Alan Tam) of a deceased gangster (also played by Tam) trying to learn the skills of being an assassin in order to take revenge. Trained by the drunken master of gunplay (Tony Leung Chiu-Wai), their target (Christy Chung) they inadvertently help and get friendly with instead. Making a much more solid impact in his parody No Problem 2 a couple of years later, Chin Ka-Lok tries and tries and tries to make the physical comedy and verbal banter stick and click. Ranging from Francis Ng's over the top performance as a mob boss in need of movie themes played by his henchmen while eating or taking a dump to said Tony Leung performance being about taking a classic martial arts icon to a modern setting, sliding off the wall or simply falling flat is the kind tally to the comedy here. When trying to hard is a notion that enters you as a viewer when watching the filmmakers do loud noises, it's the kiss of death for a movie. Alan Tam and Tony Leung's scenes do have a nicely underplayed sense of verbal back and forth at times and the former is very game as he bumbles his way through the assassin crash course. Also Christy Chung is largely excellent in her action scenes but impact and editing really only works for the cartoon finale both in terms of gunplay and martial arts (reminiscent of the frenzy Clarence Ford can put on screen). Saved the best for last but way too late at that point.

97' Lan Kwai Fong (1997) Directed by: Joe Hau

Joe Hau pretty much has proven he needs a cast of note (Right Here Waiting...) or an outrageous concept (Phantom Of Snake) to have a chance to matter. But since 97' Lan Kwai Fong possesses nothing of the needed, it's logical it falls flat on its uneventful, ugly face. Literally nothing goes on of any consequence or coherency as we experience the random boredom of a group of clubbing girls, them at their respective workplace, them getting mixed up with drugs and the wrong crowd. Hau goes to work giving us glimpses of exactly that with no added drama or character distinction. One sex scene that in turns give one of the women getting her client's signature for a lucrative insurance deal and a funny cap to the pervert entering the clothing story-scene amuses but guess how many minutes out of the 90 those highlights occupy? Far... too... few. Even the finale that promises some triad violence and bloodshed limps in and out of the picture. Shame Hau opted for boring, sometimes logical events and not shameless violence and more sex.

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