Top positive review
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Good old-school early Chang Cheh
on October 25, 2011
Before you purchase this movie and expect to see "The Five Venoms" type kung fu or post-1975 Lau Kar-Leung choreography, let me just say it isn't that. Shaw Brothers films in the early 1970s, even the ones directed by the maestro, Chang Cheh & choreographed by Lau sifu, were still getting to that level. Chang re-invented HK action cinema only five to seven years earlier. With that said, I still really like this movie. Along with "The Pirate", "The Savage Five" & "Deadly Duo" this is one of the best early Ti Lung/David Chiang pictures. It even co-stars Chen Kuan-Tai. What makes this even more significant (at least to me) is that the story is based on an actual historical scandal that the Ching government attempted to cover up.
This is my take on this picture; first, the movie-Great storytelling, despite being nearly two hours I was never bored, creative visuals and an ending that hits ya right here, know what I mean? Second, the choreography-OK, OK it doesn't compare to Lau sifu's post-1975 work (when he started directing) or the Venoms, but it's good for it's time. It's sturdy, good old-school fu that paved the way, that opening fight between Ti Lung & Chen Kuan-Tai is exciting, yo! Third, the DVD presentation-Dragon Dynasty did a fantastic job with the remastering; correct ShawScope ratio, your choice of English or Mandarin, remastered subtitles (not dubtitles like "Hard-Boiled") and decent box cover art. No special features, but what are ya gonna do? I don't expect everyone to agree with me, different people think differently, but if you are a Shaw and/or Chang Cheh fan, I think you can't go wrong here. One of my personal faves from Chang Cheh's 1965-1974 period.