The Flag of Iron is another Shawbrothers film from 1980 starring the Venoms (the same guys, minus a couple from the Five Deadly Venoms).
This movie tells the story of a Kung Fu school that loses their respected master and teacher in a battle, but the question is by who’s hand?
Two members of the Iron Flag Clan, Luo (Philip Kwok) and Yuan (Chiang Sheng) are introduced to us as they stumble upon the immoral activities behind a brothel owned by the Eagle Hill clan. The then step in and start pushing around the guys behind the action and discover a kidnapped girl, being used for prostitution. They then cause trouble by bagging up the man in charge and ‘betting’ on him at a local gambling house – also owned by Eagle Hill.
But things eventually break out into a fight and rivalries start to grow. That’s when Eagle Hill plan a dinner to apologize with the true intention of starting a fight. During that fight the master of the Iron Flag clan, a powerful fighter, is killed.
Afterwards an investigation takes place as the eldest, Cao (Feng Lu), becomes the head of the Iron Flag. Luo becomes the fall guy, accepting responsibility as a prime suspect but disappears for a year to avoid arrest.
But after a year his best friend Yuan coems to visit him and lets him know that Cao has changed and they must figure out exactly what happened. Luo is then attacked by several assassins (one before his meeting with Yuan) and he eventually discovers that a man they hired, known as the White Robed Rambler, killed their master under the orders of Cao.
With the help of the Spearman and Yuan, Luo then decides to find out for sure and inveitbaly ends up in a battle finale between himself, Yuan, White Robed Rambler and Cao.
An Easy Watch
This film is quite easy to follow and relatively entertaining. Despite the fact it is known as one of the ‘lesser’ Venom movies, I actually really liked it.
Watching everything unfold as they are attacked by various assassins and finding out the information they need to be certain about Cao’s motives was done pretty well. Philip Kwok plays a good leading man, and the morally driven duo between himself and Chiang Sheng (as Yuan) seemed to click pretty well.
There’s no depth here, just a fun film that is quite colorful with a great look, however over the top at times. The Iron Flag clan all wear bare chested uniforms and capes (yeah I know!) as they walk around town, almost as if they own the place. I mean the film starts of with the police officer helping the clan pick a ‘fall guy’ to move away for a year (being Luo).
It fits in with the look and feel of other Shaw Brothers movies but isn’t really all that unique, just well done. But the action is what I think was done really well.
The Martial Arts and Action
As with most Shaw Brothers films authentic martial arts are used to create some pretty nice exchanges between each man and his enemies.
Things start to get most interesting when Philip Kwok’s character is facing off against several assassins and showing a calm and controlling manner as he uses his impressive and visual style to dispatch them. But the high intensity fighting I really enjoyed was in the finale.
Each move in the fight between Cao and Luo was done with incredible speed and total precision. Before long Phllip Kwok is without a spear and doing multiple somersaults and showing off his impressive acrobatic ability and endurance. Even the pace was pretty constant and less step by step as usual in these older films.
A job well done for the guys at Shaws with this one. Without a doubt a well done old film that anyone can enjoy.