Like Shaolin Rescuers
In the spectacular careers of Chang Cheh and Liu Chia-liang , many international fans feel that this film is the apex of their collaboration as, respectively, director and kung-fu choreographer. Add to that the starring role of Alexander Fu Sheng and the introduction of international Shaolin monk icon Gordon Liu Chia-hui, and you have an epic for the record books. A great choreographer in his own right, Tang Chia, is on hand as partner to Liu Chia-liang, while the titanic team of "king of the villains" Johnny Wang Lung-wei and "Thundering Mantis“ Liang Chia-jen play Manchu assassins. But at the heart of this action-packed classic is relevatory training sequences in the Eagle Claw, Hung Hsi Kuan, and Yung Chun schools of kung-fu. In short: this is a must for any martial arts movie fan.
Master of the "brotherhood" films, award winning director Chang Cheh has always had a good eye for martial art talent and in Invincible Shaolin he re-introduces what was to become known as the The Five Venoms to the world of heroic bloodshed. Chang intelligently weaves a mythical tale of treachery centered around the historic attempts of the Ching Dynasty trying to destroy the Shaolin Monasteries. It's a story of misunderstanding, revenge and doomed heroes who finally realize their error in judgment through the sanctity of their martial arts. The various fighting styles used are choreographed with such amazing precision and insanity, that it's hard to believe that all this psychotic stylish action was shot and made up as they went along. It's marvelous to behold.
Legendary director Chang Cheh was in a transitional period. The men he had made stars (Jimmy Wang Yu, Ti Lung, and David Chiang among them), had moved on to their own projects. Soon his new star, international idol Alexander Fu Sheng, would also look for other productions. So Chang used this opportunity to test the star power of some new talent, namely a Taiwanese Opera artist (Kuo Chui) and a powerful Chinese muscleman (Lo Mang) – who were soon to become the foundation for his internationally popular “Venom” series. Teaming the trio with the top supporting actors (Ku Feng and Wang Lung-wei) and the prettiest starlets (Lin Chun-chi, Shirley Yu, and Hui Ying-hung), he told an entertaining and exciting tale of a kung-fu blacksmith taking on four famous robbers while a villainous gambling boss plots to destroy them. The resulting thriller was another winner for the vaunted filmmaker.
A team that ranks high in the pantheon of cult Kung fu flicks is a quintet of martial artists who burst upon the screen in The Five Venoms, followed by Crippled Avengers and other cult classics. The "five venoms" are reunited in Two Champions of Shaolin, with four of the fab five wreaking havoc on screen and the fifth venom active behind the camera as action choreographer. It's a battle between two Ching Dynasty clans, Shaolin and Wu Tang. The Shaolin champions are anti-Manchu and, naturally, represent the forces of good as they use their considerable force to crush the devious Wu Tang clan. The man behind the mayhem, director Chang Cheh, virtually invented the Shaolin genre of Kung fu movies and shows he has more than a few new tricks up his sleeve when unleashing his venomous heroes.
The "godfather of the kung-fu film", Chang Cheh, hit upon a winning formula when he combined three Taiwanese Opera artists with a muscular Chinese and a Korean kicker. Their first "official" film as stars, The Five Venoms was a hit, so the director/co-writer decided to launch a series with the same actors in different roles. Supporting this beloved sequel was real-life kung-fu champion Chen Kuan-tai, who Chang Cheh had already made a star. He plays a martial arts master (driven insane by his wife's death and his son's dismemberment), who replaces his child's missing hands with metal versions, then proceeds to blind, deafen, render retarded, and chop off the feet of anyone who even mildly annoys him. The abused bystanders band together and brilliantly train to take their revenge. The result is a totally unbelievable, but totally awesome, super heroic delight.
After making superstars of Jimmy Wang Yu, Ti Lung, David Chiang, Chen Kuan-tai, and others, esteemed martial arts movie master Chang Cheh decided it was time to cement the stardom of soon-to-be international favorite Alexander Fu Sheng. This film -- following the director's Shaolin Martial Arts, Five Shaolin Masters, and Disciples Of Shaolin - was clearly Fu's showcase. Rather than sharing the screen, as he had in the previous Shaolin trio, here he was clearly the sole hero, and took full advantage of that fact. He gives both a great dramatic and martial arts performance as an honorable carriage driver who finds love and death when he comes to the rescue of a girl being harassed by particularly venal, homicidal punks. This fight-filled thriller was made even more special by its introduction of the unusual 'Tsai' 'Li' 'Fu' kung-fu style - for which it had its own separate off-stage instructor (Yen Yat -liang).
Whenever acclaimed martial arts film director Liu Chia-liang directs his half-brother Gordon Liu Chia-hui as a Shaolin monk hero, it's guaranteed that the film will not only become a classic but that it will rock the very foundation of martial arts cinematic culture. Disciples Of The 36th Chamber is no exception to the rule. Gordon Liu Chia-hui reprises his famed role as Shaolin Monk San Te, the real life Shaolin hero that created the 36th Chamber of Shaolin. In this film, San Te protects other real life Shaolin hero Fang Shih-yu (Hsiao Hou), who seems to enjoy stepping on the wrong Manchu foot at the right time. As always with director Liu Chia-liang, the final fight scene leaves you gawking in wild-eyed wonderment.
There have been many kung-fu movies set in the famed Shaolin Temple, but none have captured the monastery's martial arts world quite like The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin. Liu Chia-liang, a legendary director of the genre, made a star of his brother Gordon Liu Chia-hui in this look at anti-Ching Dynasty rebels and their revolt against the Manchus. Gordon Liu Chia-hui attains the ultimate knowledge of kung-fu by arduously mastering one chamber after another, eventually reaching the fabled 36th chamber. Armed with this knowledge, the monks engage in some of the most exciting battles ever staged in the history of martial arts movies. The film was Shaw Brothers' number one hit of 1978, and won the Best Martial Arts Award at the 24th Asian Film Festival.
The most prolific kung-fu director in Hong Kong martial arts cinema, Chang Cheh, ushered in a new phase of his career and a new generation of action stars with The Five Venoms. The setting is ancient China's School of Five Venoms, so named for its five types of kung-fu based on five venomous animals: centipede, scorpion, serpent, toad, and lizard. The school is notorious for the evil deeds of its disciples, leading to another classic battle between righteousness and depravity. This international hit, lauded in Ric Meyers' premiere, groundbreaking book martial arts movies as one of the greatest, spawned a series featuring the same actors in new roles which was also enjoyed from America to Asia.
Prominent Kung fu actor David Chiang teams up with Chang Cheh's award winning screenwriter Ni Kuang to create a visual masterpiece full of exotic martial arts skills and fights in Shaolin Hand Lock. Chiang, who learned the secret 'Shaolin Handlock' technique from his father, is on a mission to avenge his father's death, which was ordered by the evil Ling Hao, played by Shaw Brothers' penultimate bad guy, Kung fu star, Lo Lieh. Adding to the great success of this film was the glamorous yet outlandishly inventive action sequences staged by acclaimed martial arts choreographer Tang Chia and an imposing visual edge and meticulously stylish directing by the brilliant director Ho Meng-hua who was responsible for giving early film breaks to Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung.
Film lovers and critics went out of their way to praise this Liu Chia-liang version of the Shaolin destruction and revenge epic. Many called it the preeminent kung-fu director’s best and certainly his greatest on the theme of history, martial arts, and family. Little wonder, since, beyond the Shaolin story, it also shows how Liu’s own family style of kung-fu, Hung Fist, was created. There are unforgettable sequences throughout, highlighted by Hung Hsi-kuan (the mighty Chen Kuan-tai) and Fang Yung-chun’s (the wonderful Lily Li) wedding night … where the lovers inexorably test their Tiger and Crane kung-fu styles in a symbolic treatment of a couple’s power struggles. Almost equally unforgettable are the training sequences and a full three titanic confrontations with the White-Browed Hermit (the impressive Lo Lieh), betrayer of the Temple. The critics were right: Liu has out-done himself…as usual!
In one of his early contemporary martial arts actioners, Fu Sheng teams up with director extraordinaire Chang Cheh in Chinatown Kid to battle the Five Venoms before they poisoned themselves into cult status. Although Chang was chastised for using San Francisco stock shots to make it seem like it was filmed in America, to Chinatown Kid's credit, the incredibly violent fights are immensely satisfying as man on the run Tan Tung (Fu Sheng) one by one defeats each triad gang related venom while succumbing to the seductive powers of the ultra-sexy Shirley Yu only to realize that, in typical Chang Cheh style, materialism and heroism leads to nihilistic desecration.
Fans of the international star Alexander Fu Sheng were aghast. Their idol had broken both his legs and was recuperating. Everyone wondered: would he be able to return to the action comedies for which he was so famous? This movie was the answer, and it left no doubt that he had made a full recovery. Liu Chia-yung, brother of preeminent martial arts moviemaker Liu Chia-liang, was famous in his own right for kung-fu comedies, and he out-did himself with this one. Imagine Bob Hope and Bing Crosby with the skills of Jet Li and Jackie Chan, and you’ve got an idea of the fun and fury inherent in this delightful tale of two con men vying for a horde of hidden gold. Add to the mix a Shaolin monk (played by “Master Killer” Gordon Liu Chia-hui), a powerfully brutal villain (Wang Lung-wei), and his equally dangerous mute sister (future director Yang Tsing-tsing), and you’ve got one of the most internationally loved kung-fu capers ever made.
Chang Cheh had established himself as the "godfather of kung-fu films“ with such historical, costumed classics as One-Armed Swordsman, Golden Swallow, The Deadly Duo, Blood Brothers, and many others. But his fans also revered him for his superlative modern day martial arts thrillers, such as Vengeance and Chinatown Kid. This prime example takes place in Seoul right after the Korean War, as a kung-fu master, combat instructor, explosives expert, and missile specialist must forgo the city's pleasures to take on a venal, murderous drug smuggling gang. Representing the Book of Revelation's four riders of war, famine, disease, and death as heroes against murder, corruption, jealousy, and greed, it's a brutal battle where the one true winner is the audience. Featuring an international kung-fu cast guided by master choreographers Liu Chia-liang and Tang Chia, it remains a special production in Chang Cheh's filmography.
Jimmy Wang Yu was One-Armed Swordsman. But he had moved on to become The Chinese Boxer. So Chang Cheh, the man who had helped make him a star, wasn’t kidding with the title of this fondly remembered epic (which deservedly won a prestigious Golden Horse Award for Editing). He took his charismatic new star, David Chiang, and made him an all-new-one-armed hero - a man who chops off his right arm rather than live with dishonor. But when the love of his life is kidnapped and his best friend is murdered at a gang’s stronghold on Tiger Mountain, its one-armed chopping time. The climatic battle on an amazingly engineered moat bridge is a particular favorite among true fans of martial art masterpieces.
Chang Cheh is known for his revolutionary teen angst kung-fu films, his superheroic, grand guignol 'Venoms' series, his sweeping martial art epics, and the likes of this: 'Martial Arts World ' phantasmagoricals featuring demi-dieties of mythical kung-fu. The great international idol Alexander Fu Sheng stars as a wushu warrior who must learn the '18 Palms', the 'Nine Secrets', and be taught by the 'Seven Evils', to take vengeance on the man who killed his father - the Prince of the invading Chin Kingdom. With dazzling costumes, sets, and martial arts to fall back on, the director tests the mettle of future superstars Hui Ying-hung and Kuo Chue, who was to become the star of the 'Venoms' series as well as one of the most respected action choreographers in the world.
The traditional lion dance never looked so good as in Lion vs. Lion which captures the most impressive sequences of lion dancing on film. Besides being loaded with enjoyable martial arts chicanery, film historians can revel because it's also the first film that clearly demonstrates the intricacies and differences between the traditional Northern and Southern lion dancing techniques. In this film, "Five Venoms" star Lo Mang, who was discovered by Chang Cheh, teams up with Liu Chia-liang protege Wong Yu, as they inadvertently turn from vagabond kung-fu school operators into anti-Ching, patriotic fighters.
The Kung-fu Instructor is martial arts film director Sun Chung's loose homage to Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo where unlike Toshiro Mifune's Sanjuro character being a snarling, bastard, drunk swordsman looking for a drink, popular actor Ti Lung's Huang Yang role, is an upright, righteous, weapon instructor looking to keep his limbs. Huang is a famous martial artist trapped into teaching kung-fu to the wrong clan while the opposing "good" clan tries to save him so he can instruct their members. Besides kung-fu comedienne Wang Yu starring in one of his few serious roles, Sun became the first Shaw Brothers' director to use a Steadicam which gives the film's action and editing style a unique brand of tension and rhythm. The pole fights are also out of this world.
Whether it's known as Heroes Of The East or Shaolin Challenges Ninja, this ranks as a special favorite among even the most avid fans of legendary director Liu Chia-liang. Ric Meyers, author of Great Martial Arts Movies, the premiere, groundbreaking book on the genre, dubbed it the "Kramer VS. Kramer of kung-fu films“ -- only instead of drama, there's action galore as a Chinese groom and Japanese bride create a loving "kung-fu family feud“. Watch, in appreciative awe, as one Nipponese expert after other tests the skills of Gordon Liu Chia-hui in one maginificent bout after another -- with swords, spears, pikes, karate, and even Sai Seui. The result is a dazzling delight featuring the great "Shoji“ Kurata (Fist Of Legend).
Jet Li stars in this martial arts comedy about Fong Sai Yuk, who has been given a high-stakes secret mission from the clandestine "Red Flowers Society" to steal a classified document by wooing the governor's daughter.
It's taken the West a long time to discover Jet Li, but his extraordinary martial arts skill and on-screen charm has been no secret to Asian moviegoers and kung-fu fans. Long before Lethal Weapon IV and Romeo Must Die, Jet teamed up with legendary martial arts director Liu Chia-liang for Martial Arts Of Shaolin, one of the top hits of 1986. As the title implies, the picture takes place at the famed Shaolin Monastery, the birthplace of a variety of kung-fu at which Jet Li is particularly adept. The on-location photography makes good use of such landmarks as the Great Wall and, of course, the Shaolin Monastery. Set in the days of imperial China, the classic tale of good versus evil gives young Jet ample opportunity to display the prowess that won him several Chinese national martial arts championships.
As the names of Chang Cheh and Liu Chia-liang became legendary, all-too-often the name of their equally valued collaborator, Tang Chia, is omitted. That may be, because, unlike the previous pair, the veteran kung-fu choreographer only went on to direct three movies of his own. Of course, that makes this trio all the more special, and this first effort perhaps the most special of all. It may be an eye-filling, mind-bending martial arts tale of two royal princes battling for the rightful recovery of the throne, but it's also a party, where Tang invites two cinematographers, three editors, and no less than five other choreographer friends to almost literally shoot the works. The results are kung-fu configurations not only never seen before, but never even imagined!
Rarely has a title been more accurate, but considering the action which fills this film, it also could have been called The Brutal Five or The Cruel Five or The Vicious Five É if the title referred to the villains, that is. In any case, the heroes are certainly outnumbered as gang after gang of robbing rapists invade this poor town. At first the fiends just want a village locksmith to help them open a stolen safe, but soon the entire community is being held hostage, threatened, and tortured. Although reminiscent of The Seven Samurai, the director and his revered action choreographers, Liu Chia-liang and Tang Chia, design each of the many struggles with gritty depravity and desperate power. The result is an especially realistic, even grueling, exercise in suspense.
This magnificent martial arts saga takes up where the renowned original left off. Our hero Kuo Tsing is winning the hand of fair maiden Huang Yung. However, almost immediately, clan rivalries in the “Martial Art World” lead to Kuo being wounded by Ouyang Feng and Huang being named the new leader of the Beggar Clan. All this is mounted with sparkling energy by three kung-fu choreographers and a star-packed cast. International favorite Alexander Fu Sheng is back as Kuo. Niu Niu shines in her show-stopping role as his fiancée. In addition, the mystical martial arts mayhem serves as a showcase for “My Young Auntie” Hui Ying-hung, king of villains Johnny Wang Lung-wei, and “Venoms” Kuo Chue, Lo Meng, and Sun Chien as well as other famous action stars literally too numerous to mention!
Even non-kung-fu lovers will be mesmerized by Jimmy Wang Yu in the role that made him a superstar. As the mysterious swordsman whose one arm is more powerful than his two-armed rivals, Wang and director Chang Cheh revolutionized the Hong Kong kung-fu genre and broke box office records across Asia. The female leads, Pan Yin-tse and Chiao Chiao, went on to become some of Shaw Brothers most important lady fighters, and Wang followed up his One-Armed Swordsman triumph with numerous sequels. A film that always makes the ñtop tenî list of martial arts masterpieces, this 1967 classic is as timeless today as upon its original release.
Months before Bruce Lee burst into the international scene with Enter the Dragon, this powerful story of tragedy, torture, redemption, and revenge premiered across America under the unforgettable title Five Fingers Of Death. And, under that title, it went on to become the first international martial arts movie hit, and a perennial best-selling video. It made a continent-spanning star of Lo Lieh, and established the Shaw Brothers as the preeminent studio for high quality action and adventure. Now, finally, after more than thirty years, the original King Boxer takes its rightful place as the film that started it all for the Western world. Not surprisingly, the tale of an honorable fighter's retraining in the "Iron Palm“ style after corrupt invaders crush his hands remains as potent and exciting as when it premiered.
Besides his pioneering films based on authentic martial artistry and kung-fu comedies during the 1970's, acclaimed director Liu Chia-liang also embraced the master/pupil relationship to form the cornerstone of many of his other works where his characters exhibited physical and moral failure as a means to either "make them or break them". Besides directing Mad Monkey Kung Fu, it's also Liu's debut as a lead actor playing down and out, monkey kung-fu master Chen, crippled by the ruthless villain Tuen (Shaw's penultimate bad guy Lo Lieh). Street boy Hsiao Hou (which means "little monkey" and played by popular martial arts aerialist Hsiao Hao) convinces Chen to teach him monkey kung-fu to avenge Chen's shame. The wacky training sequences and outlandish finale fight leave you stupefied.
Avid international kung-fu films fans have a special place in their hearts for this outstanding martial arts drama, which marked the ascension of director Sun Chung and action choreographer Tang Chia to legendary status. Tang also appeared as the "Chief Security Officer" in this powerful tale of the Thirteen Eagles Assassination Sect of the infamous Iron Boat Clan. Ku Feng is excellent as the poisonously patriarchal leader of the killers, but conflicted "son" Ti Lung and vengeful victim Alexander Fu Sheng command the screen as consummate warriors united in tragedy. Everything is exceptional in this endlessly entertaining production: from the cinematography of Lan Nei-tsai, to the script by Shaw Brothers' writing wizard Ni Kuang, to the editing of Chiang Hsing-loong and Yu Hsiao-feng, which deservedly won the Golden Horse Award.