Sunday, May 21, 2017

Flag of Iron Review-A Fight/Weapons Retrospective Part 2

This was a long Review so I decided to break it down into parts.  I Hope you enjoy it. Please leave a comment below.

Much Love,
~Lady Cao Feng

“Yeah. Our people being so competent and all.”

Upon his return, Leopard wins big (money and a house) at the new Iron Flag gambling house. Trapped in a soaked cow ligament net, Leopard gets a rest from all the action. For a change of pace, Tiger and Fierce Eagle battle to the death. Tiger begins the fight by using his flag with the fabric rolled tightly and wields it like a spear. Before Fierce Eagle can even grab his Kwan do, Tiger is cagy and thrust his flag at the “disobedient” Eagle. Once both men are armed, the delicate dance begins with Tiger on the attack and Fierce Eagle furiously trying to deflect each stab. Despite all of his dodging and a flip, Tiger manages to hit Fierce Eagle quite hard 3 times with the pole portion of the flag. Eventually Tiger has had enough of this and unfurls his flag. This is his signal that it is time for the nonsense to end and your death is eminent. Tiger quickly wraps Fierce Eagle up in the fabric, guides him toward Flying Eagle and unwraps him as if he is a gift. Tiger then swipes at Fierce Eagle’s feet causing him to jump and land perfectly on his back in front of Flying Eagle, who unceremoniously stabs his “friend” in the back (I meant sliced open his stomach.

“Chief had great foresight and knew you would rebel…”

After saving Leopard from a horrific death, Flying Eagle tangles briefly with 3 of the 4 senior flag bearers. Using his suddenly clean double swords, the lone Eagle puts up a very short fight. The first flag bearer guides the Eagle into the path of his awaiting brothers. The other two use their unfurled flags to trap the Eagle so the first can stab him.
The two who side with Tiger dispatch Leopard’s loyal brothers so they can complete their mission. However, Monkey and The WRR intervene. You can tell these flag bearers are not in the same league as Tiger, Leopard, and Monkey as their flag skill is noticeably weaker. Not only is the use of the flag as a weapon more awkward for them, their defense against them is pretty much nonexistent. The flag bearer who fights the WRR is able to counter his spear for a few moments until he he is forced to bump into his partner. Lui Bao (the other flag bearer) is able to keep the Monkey on the move, allowing Monkey to show off his flipping skills which we have not seen so far in the film. After the flag bearers collide they unfurl their flags in a display to suggest they have had enough. The one FB swipes at the WRR who throws his mini spear under the flag, catches it on the other side and kills his youthful opponent. I thought this was a pretty cool move that showed how inexperienced these men are. Lui Bao’s flag waving is the catalyst for Monkey to showcase how he earned his nickname. He effortlessly jumps and flips out of the way of the furiously waving flag bearer. Monkey effortlessly disarms the young man and turns his own flag against him. Again his experience defending against the flag is his downfall. Monkey trips him, sweeps him up into the air and nails him to a column with his own flag.

“Not reliable, isn’t it?”

Tiger sends the remaining 2 flag bearers to fetch Leopard, Monkey and the WRR. The 5 men exit the brothel and walk into another trap. Archers and swordsmen are waiting but Leopard’s loyal followers use very basic flag waving skills to save their friends from the arrows while wiping out the archers. The pair jump up to the balcony to attack the swordsmen, who barely use their swords, and kill a few more archers. The flag bearers fall from the balcony followed by the leaping swordsmen who are impaled before the loyal flag brothers take their last breath.

“I suppose you 2 big fellas won’t let her risk her life.”

Lan Xin, the WRR’s favorite lady, is being used to pit him against Leopard. The WRR doesn’t fall for this like the chivalrous Leopard but request she be set free then he will fight. Leopard furls his flag as the WRR prepares to duel. The 2 are evenly matched as the WRR’s mini spears are able to block the long range of the flag. Both men use quick jabbing motions to try and gain the upper hand. However, their opponent is just as fast in blocking the other’s deadly moves. Eventually, Leopard releases the fabric of his flag so that he can get his frenemy off balance. The fabric causes the WRR to duck, jump and roll out of the way to no avail as Leopard is able to pin WRR to the ground with the spear tip pointed at his throat.

The unimpressed Tiger watches the joust and believing the WRR is about to die, removes his cape and reaches for his own flag to take on the victor. Leopard allows the WRR to get up and their duel continues as the angry and in total disbelief Tiger watches. After some more evenly matched sparring, the WRR is able to catch Leopard off guard. As Leopard tumbles away, the WRR is close behind and when he stands, the Leopard has a mini spear pointed at his throat.
As the WRR is lowering his mini spear, a furious Tiger hurls a flag straight through WRR with such force, the flag stick into the tree! Luckily, Leopard is able to escape, thwarting Tiger’s plan to kill two with one spear yet again. WRR turns and weakly throws one of his spear at Tiger who easily deflects it by swirling his flag.

Leopard and Tiger finally begin their death duel with the fabric rolled around their poles. Both men are fervently slashing, jabbing and slicing at each other as they spin away from blows that come dangerously close to ripping open flesh. At one point, they catch the others flag in one hand and release so that they have exchanged weapons. Tiger is able to keep up with Leopard’s jumping and tumbling to avoid being hurt. Finally, Tiger unleashes his anger and flag when he throws it into the air causing the fabric to unrolled. This is our que that the chief has had enough and is ready to put an end to this situation. One of my favorite moves is when Tiger jumps into the air and becomes perpendicular to the ground. The tip of his flag catches the fabric of Leopard’s flag tearing it into two pieces. When the Tiger has the leopard on the run, Monkey jumps into the action. Monkey deploys the tip of the spear the now deceased WRR had given him for the critical moment. Tiger uses a bamboo basket to catch the projectile. The brothers continue their battle until Monkey is able to unleash the last secret of the spear, thin flying needles. Tiger’s basket is able to catch the needles which become lodged in his chest. Amazed he was struck, an unfocused Tiger becomes careless and is swept up by his brothers’ flags. Tiger is pierced by both tips and succumbs to his injuries.

“You are such a genius.”

The ultimate weapon of the film in my opinion is the mind. The use of strategy by both Tiger and the WRR is impressive. The combatants were playing chess with living pawns. Tiger was willing to sacrifice all his pieces in order to be victorious and discounted the hidden strength of his opponents. The WRR knew the value of keeping a closely guarded secret and he knew the strength of his pieces. Tiger’s dismissal of Monkey as an asset was what ultimately brought his death.

Chang Cheh’s choice of flags as the feature weapon was brilliant. The flags afforded Chiang, Kuo and Lu the opportunity to demonstrate through their choreography their opera strengths. From the looks on the Venoms’ faces, guys wielded their flags with ease and power unlike their younger counterparts who seemed to struggle. In some shots, Lu’s expression is pure fury. Also, Kuo and Chiang were able to showcase their flipping and jumping as Lu feverishly waved his flag. The spinning these guys could do was absolutely amazing. Slow motion enhanced the beauty of the flags swirling around them as they maneuvered around each other was gorgeous. Their flag scenes are well choreographed dances. Another reason I enjoy this movie is I can tell Lu Feng is having a great time with this character. There are few scenes where he smirks but you think he could go into a full on laugh but it would be inappropriate. This movie was tailor made for my 3 favorite Venoms!

Flag of Iron is available at iTunes * Amazon Prime

Legalese: All images copyright Celestial Pictures and their respective owners. No infringement is intended or presumed. We encourage you to seek out these films through official channels. *

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Flag of Iron Review-A Fights/Weapons RetrospectivePart 1

This was a long Review so I decided to break it down into parts.  I Hope you enjoy it. Please leave a comment below.

Much Love,
~Lady Cao Feng

Flag of Iron Review
Director: Cheng Cheh
Action Choreography: Lu Feng, Kuo Chui, Chiang Sheng
Starring: Lu Feng (Iron Tiger), Kuo Chui (Iron Leopard), Chiang Sheng (Iron Monkey), Wong Lik (Fierce Eagle), Lung Tien-Hsiang (White Robe Rambler), Yu Tai Ping (Flying Eagle)

Summary: Two rival clans trying to run the town. The righteous Iron Flag Clan’s heroes would like to eliminate the immoral Eagle Hall. Iron Monkey and Iron Tiger cause trouble at the brothel while saving a young lady from prostitution. Here they meet the White Robed Rambler and his very interesting and large back scratcher. The Iron Flag Pair have fun at the expense of the brothel manager at the gambling hall. Iron Leopard and Monkey briefly clink swords with Fierce and Flying Eagles before Iron Tiger puts a halt t the display. Which clan will survive?

“Don’t you realize there’ll never be any free lunches? You can’t leave here today. Attack and don’t let anyone leave here.”

The first major fight of the movie takes place at Eagle Hall between the Iron flag Clan (Chief Tieh, Iron Tiger, Iron Leopard, Iron Monkey and the 4 senior flag bearers) and Eagle Hall members (Chief Mi, Flying Eagle Chen Xiang, Fierce Eagle Gao Deng and the 14 Eagle Henchmen). The Flag Clan arrived unarmed as not to arouse suspicions of Eagle Hall so they are bare-handed. However, the Eagles are using swords to stab and slash at our heroes and not landing any blows.

The White Robed Rambler crashes the party bringing arms to share in the form of miniature silver spears that he conveniently carries on his back as a bag. He only has enough to share with the Chief, Tiger, Leopard and Monkey. The flag bearers have to make due with the nearest pieces of furniture. Flying and Fierce Eagles fight briefly with Tiger and then The WRR before they make a hasty exit stage left with knowing smirks on their devious faces.

These mini spears are quite handy and lightweight. The hero clan members are wielding them with one handed ease as they slice through the 14 Eagle Henchmen quite quickly 2 at a time. Chief Tieh is about to put a serious hurting on the Eagle Chief when mysteriously he is pierced by the tip of a mini spear of whom we do not know as no one is close enough to stab him. Tiger and Chief Tieh poke well placed holes in the chest and back of the Eagle Chief, killing him. Come to find out, the spear tip was shot from the mini spear with spring action. This is a secret only the Rambler knows. Could this handy dandy mini spear have more hidden abilities? Dun dun dun!

“Run when you meet The Iron Axe and Silver Spear..... man with three kids smiling treachery.”

One of our heroes, Iron Leopard, is sent away as the fall guy to take the blame for the loses suffered by Eagle Hall. During his time hiding out as a waiter in the Lok Tai Inn, he encounters the 10 assassins of a famous poem:

  1. Iron Axe attacks Leopard from behind with his famed ax only to be denied the kill by Leopard’s quick thinking. Leopard must hear his approach or sees a shadow. Before the ax can connect with our hero, chopsticks become a deadly weapon as they are thrust into the Iron Axe’s midsection and hammered through with deadly force by a tray.
  2. The Deadly Fortune Teller asks Leopard to guide him down the steps using his sign pole, which doubles as a spear. At the bottom of the steps the secret is revealed and Leopard is forced to grab the nearest sign to defend himself. Leopard jumps and spins out of harm's way. He jumps onto a roof forcing the fortune teller close to the building. When he descend the roof he is behind his adversary. Leopard using both feet causes his foe to crash awkwardly into the wall. The Fortune teller’s feet get caught and he is speared to death by a piece of wood.
  3. The Butcher tries to assassinate the Leopard using his large meat cleaver. Fortunately, Monkey is nearby and continuously hands over bamboo poles Leopard uses to defend himself. Kuo Chui’s pole work is pretty basic with no extra flourishes. The butcher slices the poles into little stubs rapidly but falls over, skewered by the bamboo poles.

4. Iron Abacus carries a very larger version of his namesake weapon. He unlatches the top bar and hurls the beads of the abacus at Leopard, who tumbles out of his room. He protects himself by grabbing the blanket that covers the doorway in one swift motion. The remainder of the abacus turns into a nunchucks type weapon except the wood is square, not round. Leopard jumps on tables and tumbles around the floor to avoid the nunchucks. He ends the fight by piercing Iron Abacus with a piece of broken plate.

5. Naughty Kid is an interesting young fella with an equally interesting sword. When the sword is first unsheathed, it is comical and puny, almost like a child’s toy. But with one click of a button there are two points on either side of the blade. Now the sword is fit for a proper swordsman. The Kid doesn’t use any spectacular moves in his assassination attempt. Leopard, in typical Kuo Chui style, brandishes a stool as his weapon. He jumps on and off tables before trapping the Kid’s feet under a stool. The Kid takes a swipe at Leopard who uses another stool to bonk the Kid in the head. Leopard does a tight flip to land on the sword trapping it on the stool he was just standing on top of and uses the broken stool’s legs to kill the Kid.

6.- 10. The Old Man with Three Kids Smiling of Treachery had been lurking around as Leopard’s coworkers. They employ cool weapons in their attempt to kill our hero. Their sword of choice is a sickle/scimitar type blade which they combine with a short rod with a handle. The cool trick is the pole fasten together creating a square to trap their opponent. This trap keeps Leopard contained for a small bit of time. He flips out of the square but the quartet are easily able to contain him until the WRR intervenes by deploying his speartip into two of the kids. This maneuver reveals his secret but also allows the Leopard to dispose of the last two easily by flipping and hitting the scimitars perfectly causing the would be assassins to fly through the nearest wall. Killing both of them.

Stay tuned for part 2................

Flag of Iron is available at iTunes * Amazon Prime

Legalese: All images copyright Celestial Pictures and their respective owners. No infringement is intended or presumed. We encourage you to seek out these films through official channels. *

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Disciples of Shaolin Podcast

Brendan of Bedrock Games, Steve and I discuss one of my favorite Chi Kuan Chun/ Alexander Fu Sheng movies, Disciples of Shaolin. Discover how the three of us view this lesser known Shaw Brothers film in this interesting podcast.

Disciples of Shaolin is available on a variety of Digital platforms (iTunes,*Amazon Prime,*YouTube

Legalese: All images copyright Celestial Pictures and their respective owners. No infringement is intended or presumed. We encourage you to seek out these films through official channels. *

Flag of Iron Review-A Fight/Weapons Retrospective Part 2

This was a long Review so I decided to break it down into parts.  I Hope you enjoy it. Please leave a comment below. Much Love, ~Lady Cao...