Monday, June 26, 2017

Iron Neck Li (1981) Review

Starring: Chi Kuan Chun, Wong Hon, Hsiao Hou-Tao, Wang Shui
Director:  Cheung Yan-Git
Action Directors:  So Kwok-Leung, Lin Kuang-Yung

Summary:  ‘Iron Neck’ Li Yung(Chi Kuan Chun) earned his nickname by using his fists to stand up for the weak and persecuted.  LI Yung becomes the bodyguard of young Emperor Chien Lung after His Majesty stands up for him when he was wrongly accused of killing a man.  The pair set out on an adventure across Taiwan with Wang Fa(Wang Shui), the Emperor’s eunuch.  The trio run into some interesting circumstances, love and nefarious characters on their adventure.

This is one of my non-Shaw Brothers films starring one of my top 3 favorites Chi Kuan Chun.  I liked this movie because Chi Kuan Chun doesn’t play his normal stoic and wise character as he was stereotyped during his Shaw Brothers days.  Iron Neck Li allows him to show his range as an actor.  Li Yung is brave and strong but also shy around women and has a fight now and ask questions later kind of attitude.  He is a martial force to be reckoned with as he takes on many enemies throughout their travels.

One of my favorite scenes is where Li picks up a pair of wedding shoes and lucky red envelope of money.  The father comes out of the house and greets Li Yung as his son-in-law.  Li runs for his life back to where the Emperor and Wang Fa are waiting.  The sheer look of terror, which is not a normal look, on Chi Kuan Chun’s face made me giggle a little.  In this movie, we are able to see many different expressions/emotions from Chi Kuan Chun that we are not used to seeing in his Shaw Brothers films.

The other actors also did a great job in this film, especially Wang Shui as the eunuch, Wang Fa.  He provided some funny moments in the movie.  Wang seems to get them in a bit of trouble in a brothel and serenades a young lady while she is picking tea.  

The action wasn’t anything spectacular as most of it was hand to hand combat.  The sequences are basic and not flashy which fits in with the story of the movie.  Don’t get me wrong, the action is good but you shouldn't expect flipping and many different types of weapons being used. The fighting is true to life in my opinion.

All in all, this is a good film if you are looking to discover a different side of Chi Kuan Chun.  I liked everything about the movie except the ending.  I wish it had a different ending.

Iron Neck Li is available on Youtube

Legalese: All images copyright Three Virtues Film Co. (H.K.) Ltd. and their respective owners. No infringement is intended or presumed.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Who Wore It Better? Second Edition

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In this edition of Who Wore It Better, the same costume is worn in 2 Venom Mob movies, one by a supporting actor and one by a first tier Venom.  The costume in my opinion is not the best color scheme for either actor as yellow and brown are not flattering on anyone.  

The first image is from the 1979 film Magnificent Ruffians a.k.a. The Destroyers.  The actor is #1 Venom Lu Feng as the villain Yuan Ying Fei, The Golden Sword.  I understand the meaning of the yellow in this costume is to remind us that he is the Golden Sword and his techniques match rotations of the sun.  Also, Yuan Ying Fei is the center of the universe in the small town he controls and the townspeople cannot do anything without his approval and/or knowledge.

Wan Seung-Lam sears the same costume in the 1981 film Sword Stained with Royal Blood as the supporting character Sha.  Sha is second in command to Master Rong, the chief of Lung Yau School.  Even though Sha is a supporting character, his costume also shows his rank in relation to the men he has brought with him to retrieve the stolen taels.

I am a Lu Feng fan so I believe he wears it better even though it is not a flattering costume for either gentlemen.  Your turn to decide who wore it better.  Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Sword Stained with Royal Blood can be viewed digitally at iTunes,*Amazon Video,*Google Play,*YouTube.

Magnificent Ruffians can be purchased on DVD at Amazon.

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. *

Monday, June 12, 2017

Crazy Horse, Intelligent Monkey (1982) Review

Starring: Chi Kuan Chun, Hon Kwok-Choi, Candy Wen Xue-Erh
Directed by: Tony Liu Chun-Ku and Chan Hei
Action Directors: Chin Yuet-Sang, Alan Chui Chung-San and Max Lee Chiu-Chun

Summary:  Hou Hsiao Shan(Hon Kwok-Choi) is a conman who is saved by Ma Ta(Chi Kuan Chun), a kung fu expert after he is beaten in a casino.  The pair travel to find Ma’s mother who went to visit his uncle but never returned.  On their way, the men meet a mysterious Mr.(Miss) Lee(Candy Wen Xue-Erh).  When they arrive at the uncle’s house, Ma Ta discovers his mother has been murdered and his “uncle” is being blackmailed.  Unfortunately, Hou and Ma are no match for the murderers and are trained by Miss Lee and her teacher in order to take revenge.

I enjoy watching this movie because the story is excellent and told very well.  Even though the theme is the typical revenge movie, there is a bit of mystery. There are several plot twists that are not expected as the movie progresses.  The characters are well developed through their interactions with one another.  Hon and Chi are fun to watch as they change from acquaintances to friends and almost brothers.  Hon Kwok-Choi fills the mischievous little brother role which was usually played by Alexander Fu Sheng. Chi Kuan Chun plays the responsible older brother, looking out for his friend.

Candy Wen Xue-Erh plays to type in this movie.  She dresses as a man for the first part of the movie but when her true character is revealed she becomes at moments the bratty girl in previous Shaw Brothers films.  Her training scenes as a girl opposite of Hon Kwok-Choi provide comic relief. This pairing has a great chemistry.

I usually think the training scenes in some movies go on far too long but they were perfect in this one.  They served the purpose of watching our heroes progress and develop the titular styles in order to take their revenge.  My favorite part of the movie is watching Chi Kuan Chun develop the Crazy Horse technique.  His movements are so graceful and beautiful in every film.  He is mesmerizing to watch. His muscular physique and graceful movements make him the perfect Crazy Horse.

Hon Kwok-Choi makes the perfect Intelligent Monkey for the movie as his conman is very smart and able to outwit his adversaries.  His short and wiry body type is perfect to learn the monkey fighting style.

This is a great non-Shaw Brothers film if you are a Chi Kuan Chun fan like me.  The story is great and they chose the best actors for each part.  I couldn’t see anyone else in these roles. The training and fighting sequences are excellent, especially if you want to see shapes being performed by a master.  I watch this over and over again.

Crazy Horse, Intelligent Monkey is available on Youtube

Legalese: All images copyright Ka Wah Film(H.K.) Ltd.and their respective owners. No infringement is intended or presumed.

Iron Neck Li (1981) Review

Starring: Chi Kuan Chun, Wong Hon, Hsiao Hou-Tao, Wang Shui Director:  Cheung Yan-Git Action Directors:  So Kwok-Leung, Lin Kua...