There’s no foreplay, this movie hits the ground running. We’re introducted to 5 different Shaolin monks on the run. Their pursuers, of the Qing Dynasty, track them down and do their best to kill them but the men escape and eventually all find each other and team up.
After discussing what happened, the men come to the conclusion that the men responsible for burning down their temple must have had information from the inside. They then venture out with secret hand signals to find more friends and snuff out the spy.
When one of the Monks finds a 6th monk named Ma Fu Qi, he very quickly determines that he is the spy. After the two fight he is eventually caught and held by this treacherous monk.
The other monks team up and rescue their friend form Ma Fu Qi, and come to realization that they are not skilled enough to fight off their enemies. The group then head off and train in secret for a year to eventually return to defeat the people who destroyed their home.
A Standard Story but told well.
On the surface this is nothing new – a group of monks or characters are betrayed by a powerful fighter or villain they cannot defeat – so they train for a year to return and defeat them. All that is missing is the mysterious new master who can show them another superior style!
I do like the the approach the men had, taking note of the individual weapons and styles their enemies had, and worked on techniques specific to working around that arsenal. It’s a smart approach which made their increase in skill toward their formerly superior enemies believable.
But the movie doesn’t have as much of the ridiculous characters or behavior a lot of older Kung Fu flicks have, and the story is a presented in a more down to earth manner which made it that bit more enjoyable. Not only that, the music was a bit more subtle and matching – definitely not your standard 70’s movie music. This small differences altered the tone of the movie just enough to make it just that little bit unique and different from others of it’s time.
The fact that movie starts off directly with the initial escape of the monks was cool also and got you paying attention straight away. It sets the movie up for a nice action movie pace which makes it perfect to include some good Kung Fu.
The Martial Arts and Action.
Some of the actors performed quite convincingly while others were just pretty standard. Overall the pace and feel of the fights matched the 70’s style of the time but the variety of techniques and weapons used in the fights made it a movie with a good range of different martial arts techniques.
Because there were so many good names, before their time, each of these characters had a unique style and approach which called for another varied amount of counter styles. It made for an interesting display.
You’ll notice a few faces in this film, Gordon Liu shows up nice and early for a brief minute and Bryan Leung (from The Victim) also plays a role. Lung Wei Wang and many other familiar faces from Shaw Brothers and other Kung Fu movies are also in there, it was quite interesting to see, considering a lot of them weren’t really that famous when the movie was made (1974).
A decent classic with a good old fashioned plot structure, told in an entertaining way. One for lovers of the classics!