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The Invincible (1972) Directed by: Law Chun

Long forgotten and lost Jimmy Wang Yu swordplay movie until a German, widescreen cinema print turned up and was released on dvd, it's a shame such gems remain forgotten for so long as The Invincible is a definite highlight in Jimmy Wang Yu's literally kickass filmography. Playing Li Mu Bai whose people are oppressed by the evil Mongol ruler Wan Yan Liang (Paul Chang), earlier Li saves woman Wan Yan Chang (Helen Ma - Deaf Mute Heroine) but when finding out she's the sister of Yan Liang, a conflict of interests arises. Especially so since the two have a growing affection in each other where that is entirely impossible. It's about doing good for your people after they've been violated so the moral dilemmas are certainly familiar but executed with sincerity by director Law Chun (who had directed Jimmy in My Son at Shaw Brothers). Also devoid of much pretension since it's not a history lesson too, The Invincible is refreshingly straightforward and simple with that simple complexity joining hands too. Although visibly undercranked, the swordplay and the various group battles are exciting and often extensive, complex pieces of furious choreography where Wang Yu puts his all into said furious emotion needed.

The Invincible Constable (1993) Directed by: Chan Siu Chuen

Featured prominently on the vcd cover, Cynthia Khan and Anthony Wong make sporadic appearances but even with their full presence, I doubt The Invincible Constable would've gain much of a rep as a fine work in the wake of the Once Upon A Time In China success. Budget is seemingly restrained, comedy even more straining and there's certainly no plot worth paying attention to. Then you could only put your hopes into the action directing. At few times, action director Ha Dik delivers creative, flying bouts but that verdict still means The Invincible Constable isn't worth hunting down. Also with Alex Fong, Mark Cheng and Yen Shi-Kwan of Once Upon A Time In China fame.

The Invincible Fist (1969) Directed by: Chang Cheh

While not the strongest Chang Cheh swordplay drama out there, if this is autopilot it's pretty damn good autopilot. A bit incoherent and slow in the early sections, the main thrust of Lo Lieh hunting for criminal Ma Wai-Jia (Fang Mian) is eventually easy to latch onto and especially when it turns out Lo Lieh's character is falling for the blind daughter of his rival (Li Ching) who doesn't know of her father's criminal activity. Effective, surprising bursts of action and a calm, dramatic template with the expected threads of morality and conscience, Chang Cheh's makes affecting drama by being sincere. It speaks to his desires and strengths at this time as a dramatic filmmaker. Some of the most atmospheric pieces of cinematography in his movies up to this points turns up here and his action directors Lau Kar-Leung and Tong Gaai elevate their intensity as well. The various fights and skirmishes in tall grass, confined spaces and rain makes for a superbly thrilling Wuxia film and especially the end fight with continually tired, wounded and worn fighters is iconic as. Co-starring David Chiang in one of his first prominent roles for Chang Cheh.

Invincible Obsessed Fighter (1983) Directed by: John King

As I have no English credits to go by, Invincible Obsessed Fighters in dubbed form was presumably presented by Filmark's Tomas Tang or together with Joseph Lai when both were still working together. Regardless, it's from the history of the distributors and producers where the ninja craze was not yet a focus hit and eyes were fixed on Korea's martial arts output instead. Hence this being a movie only interfered with so to say via the English dub. A typical revenge plot starring Elton Chong, it's unusual high quality coming from Korea (and the movies IFD and Filmark picked up) in the action department. Incredible fluid and intricate at many points, the filmspeeds are usually off but it doesn't detract from some of the jaw dropping physicality. In between Chong plays dress up whilst seeking his father's killer and the comedy sections are therefore not setting the screen on fire but they're easy to deal with in the 84 minute package. A kung-fu fighting sorcerer and curiously creative usage of fight sound effects helps to maintain interest. Co-starring Mike Wong.

Invincible Shaolin (1978) Directed by: Chang Cheh

Reuniting the appealing actors and performers from The Five Venoms, Chang Cheh brings a new story involving Phillip Kwok, Chiang Sheng, Lu Feng, Lo Meng and Wai Pak as Northern- and Southern Shaolin fighters that the Ching court (led by Johnny Wang) are manipulating in order to destroy the core of Shaolin. A simple, clear story but also with a clever setup, Chang Cheh breathes cinematic life into the various strengths of each performer wonderfully well. The training sequences leading to clever call backs during the end fight (containing some trademark holy crap type of gore from Chang Cheh) are quite extensive and does slow the movie down ever so slightly. But it's easy to be on board with an epic looking frame and this much devotion to the various training as these performers also bring unique, distinctive traits for audiences to connect with. It's easy to see why this group of actors became popular globally and they’re in assured hands. Also with Kara Hui and Chan Shen.

The Invincible Super Guy (1976, Hsu Tseng-Hung)

Starting out reasonably interesting, with Lung Fei's character orchestrating the theft of royal gold and then tries to divert attention and blame onto other people. This then grinds to a halt as now the narrative becomes riddled with characters and coherent reasons for anything vanishes quickly. Main reason being how Hsu Tseng-Hung (Temple Of The Red Lotus) deals with exposition dumps designed to BRING clarity. It's all simply spoken, unnaturally so and when filmmaker shows no interest in achieving clarity, no wonder we also tune out. Strange sights such as an undead, protective army around our villain Devilman entertain for a few minutes but doesn't elevate matters. Martial arts is unfortunately also sluggish and largely uninteresting. Starring Polly Kwan, Chang Yi and Pai Ying.

The Invincible Sword (1971) Directed by: Hsu Tseng-Hung

Jimmy Wang Yu and devoted followers of a general slated for execution tries to bust him out with the help of a performance troupe. Historical epic relying more on being basic, lean and mean. Very well produced and majestic looking, The Invincible Sword is terrific fun and skillful as director Hsu Tseng-Hung (Temple Of The Red Lotus) maintains our interest all throughout the 30 minute long swordplay massacre ending with tons of slicing and dicing by Wang Yu and company. Entirely captivating, maybe not historically significant for history-buffs but an exhilarating joy and a fine reference work for Wang Yu who re-confirms here why he's an important icon in Hong Kong and Taiwanese action cinema. Also with Hsu Feng, Chang Yi, Paul Chang, Chen Hung-Lieh, Tin Yau and Lung Fei.

The Invisible Terrorist (1976) Directed by: Chan Siu-Pang

Ming versus Ching, a ruthless emperor (Wang Hsieh) wants to smoke out rebels (led by Carter Wong) and obtain all parts of a namelist AND...there's a traitor. Straightforward, short, well costumed but clearly low budget as 90% of the movie is shot outdoors. But The Invisible Terrorist seems to know its basic and stock traits well and is out of our lives quickly while delivering a steady parade of grounded and weapons action. And viewer eye brows should be raised at the sight of a very cool arrow contraption and the deadly cymbal monks. Lo Lieh appears briefly.

Ip Man (2008, Wilson Yip)

Designed like less of a biopic and more like an action-movie using a basic and even shallow snapshot of Ip Man's life within the pages of history, Wilson Yip's prior skills in drama zeroes in on his lead Donnie Yen and making it one of his best (and most understated) performances of his career. A movie of varying quality but for the commercial crowd it dishes out elements dependently where it matters. Poignancy is not what we take away from Ip Man however. Essentially his family, like so many others, fall during the Japanese occupation of Fo Shan during World War II but renowned martial arts skill attracts attention of said forces, leading Ip Man to represent Chinese spirit and kung fu versus the big bad. The elements of poverty and misery feels rather manufactured, used as basic story thread but the movie wants to be on the go. So Yip doesn't stick to many threads, he just ticks them off in order to get Donnie from bottom to top and from fight scene to fight scene. Admittedly Yen is acting in a way better movie here, with subdued, non-verbal and even felt stretches as we get his desperation as well as determination directed towards aggressors. Aided by quality, well shot and inventive choreography from Sammo Hung and Tony Leung, highlights include Donnie versus a challenger in the form of Fan Siu-Wong but keeping him at a distance using a spear and the final tournament that pushes the nationalistic hero buttons outside of Donnie's performance. Yet his quiet reactions are quality the rest of the movie isn't designed to reach or can't. Occasionally the action gets a bit ludicrous, especially in Yen's scene versus ten Japanese as the Wing Chun chain punching technique (thanks to Jay for that info) and leg breaks makes the movie stray into the goofy looking (both examples feel like an effect or not shot well, at a proper frame rate etc) but concentrate on this as commercial entertainment and not a history piece and you'll feel ok about the results. Plus you'll walk away impressed by the fact that Donnie can act. Also with Simon Yam, Lynn Hung, Wong You-Nam, Gordon Lam and Hiroyuki Ikeuchi.

Ip Man: The Final Fight (2013, Herman Yau)

Although he is depicting the character of Ip Man again (previously in 2010's The Legend Is Born - Ip Man), Herman Yau puts best friend Anthony Wong in the role of the older grandmaster transitioning through Hong Kong history. Plus SOME fights. No, it's not the headliner of the portrait Yau and writer Erica Li wishes to paint, starting in 1949 and taking us through events that shaped Hong Kong with Ip Man at the same time trying to stand upright as a person, morally, ethically but also the journey consists of how he forwards himself as a man and teacher of martial arts. He is a straight speaker, humble, respectful, earns a dedicated group of followers/family and isn't afraid to walk his own path or deflect fame. All especially affecting and even tremendous as embodied by Anthony Wong who was clearly meant for this role. You can sense he means what he says and that’s aided comfort and dedication by the often outspoken performer. It also finally gives us a chance to see the often unutilized arsenal of Wong's: His martial arts-skills. Nicky Li and Sin Kwok-Lam give him plenty of chances to shine in grounded, intense exchanges with the likes of Eric Tsang and Hung Yan-Yan and Yau is a veteran to the degree that he doesn't jam modern filmmaking style into the finely tuned staging in terms of action. Veteran-thinking enhances and that makes up for the fact this is also an episodic narrative with a supporting cast of characters (Jordan Chan, Gillian Chung, Timmy Hung etc) that feel spotty as portrayed in these transitional episodes. Wong's Ip Man and his evolving nature stays top notch though, is understated, non-verbal and Yau evolves his themes through simple interactions (including the bond built between him and Zhou Chu-Chu's Jenny). It's not a traditional movie that tries to cling on to old style but rather it moves with the times in a dignified manner, displaying a pride in drama and action. Anita Yuen appears briefly as the wife of Ip Man's.

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