When Chang Cheh created "heroic bloodshed" swordsman films, he changed martial arts cinema by having more male than female characters in the genre. The Silver Fox is a throwback, the last of its kind where the heroic swordsmen are women. Lily Ho (before she became one of Shaw Brothers' great erotica actresses) portrays the feared swordswoman Silver Fox, who witnessed her father senselessly wounded and her mother raped. It's 18 years later and it's payback time.
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.
Julie Yeh Feng gets to perform on a melodramatic platform to showcase her versatility in this poignant tearjerker. Yeh plays socialite Pai Li-lan, whose life is disrupted when she contracts severe tuberculosis. It is under harsh, trying circumstances that love unexpectedly blossoms between Li-lan and Chang Chih-ping (Ling Yun), the music teacher of her daughter Chin Shiao-lan (Fung Bo-bo). Unfortunately, the odds are stacked sky-high against their love. Can love essentially be enough to see them through?
The lovely Michelle Mei Suet plays a spoiled girl Szu-szu who ignores her true love Yang Fan (Yuan Te) to go off in search of a swordsman Chin Ko (Chen Kuan-tai) she idolizes. The search sets off one great action scene after another, until she's threatened to be sold into slavery but Yang Fan arrives in the nick of time! This amusing and entertaining variation on the standard kung-fu film is definitely a winner.
Huang Fei-hung is the greatest character in martial arts movie history, with more than a hundred films featuring the Confucian healer and kung-fu master. Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Gordon Liu, and many others have played him in many a gloriously filmed epic. But versatile director Ho Meng-hua and the Shaw Studio wondered what it would be like to cast one of their finest actors in the challenging role, then film it hyper-realistically. The result is this unique experimental take on the character and his stories, as the multiple award-winning Ku Feng plays an all-too-human Huang Fei-hung in a battle against a corrupt gangster's plan to frame him for robbery and murder. Despite the unusual approach, there's plenty of action as Huang and his students, including the beauteous Chen Ping, fight for honor, harmony, and health.
Hsu Hsia, a great kung fu actor himself, both directs and leads a team of four martial arts choreographers for his tale of kung fu pickpockets (including handsome Chien Hsiao-Hou), who dodge the top cop ("Venom" muscleman Lo Meng) but run afoul of a killer club owner (king of Shaw Brothers villains Wang Lung-Wei). There are assignations to assassinations, and many battles which require both light-fingered larceny as well as two-fisted (and feet) fighting. The result is a fondly remembered and exceptional genre favorite.
Unarguably the greatest character in kung-fu film history is Huang Fei-hong. Arguably the greatest director of pure kung-fu films is Liu Chia-liang. Putting the two together was natural, since Liu started his career working on the classic Huang, and his family was trained by students of the real Huang Fei-hong! So after his first film as director, THE SPIRITUAL BOXER, was a huge hit, Liu decided to make the greatest tale of Huang and his "sifu" (teacher) ever filmed. He made a star of his adoptive brother, Gordon Liu Chia-hui, in the leading role, and filled the cast with family members, friends, students, and the best Shaw Brothers had to offer. He even played the villain himself. The result was more Liu magic, with an honorable message of righteousness that rings true through the decades.
Gordon Liu Chia-hui, Chen Kuan-tai, Wang Yu, Lily Li
On a continent which reveres its martial arts, the director's nickname is "Kung-fu Liang" - holder of a filmography unprecedented in its innovation of theme, ingeniousness of plot, and imagination of its astonishingly designed kung-fu. This production is clearly the culmination of his initial Shaw Brothers work - the film which he used as a showcase for his and his brothers' - Chia-yung and Gordon Lui - skills. In the premiere, groundbreaking book on the genre, Martial Arts Movies, author Ric Meyers called it "the quintessential martial arts movie" and perhaps the greatest kung-fu movie ever made. Showing prescience customary with this visionary, the plot revolved around early 20th century pugilists vainly attempting to find a kung-fu which could defeat the bullet... years before the same theme would be used in Once Upon A Time In China. It also features the rarely dramatized magician-spies of China, who would ultimately inspire the Japanese ninja. But most importantly, it is a beautifully made action comedy featuring international fan favorite Alexander Fu Sheng and supremely brilliant kung-fu.
Liu Chia-liang , Liu Chia-yung , Hui Ying-hung , Gordon Liu
Cantopop king Aaron Kwok shows that he can kick and chop with the best of them. As THE BARE-FOOTED KID, he's an innocent country bumpkin/martial arts whiz in the Ching Dynasty who proves more than equal to the city slickers whose path he crosses. Ably assisted by director Johnnie To and with martial arts choreography by the legendary Liu Chia-liang, Aaron Kwok - generally acknowledged to be the best dancer among the pop idols - proves that he's equally graceful at kung-fu. The ladies in the bare-footed kid's life are impressive as well, with Maggie Cheung Man-yuk an introspective widow and Jacklyn Wu a rambunctious rich girl. Most imposing is Ti Lung, playing a mysterious fugitive, showing that he still possesses the screen presence that first brought him to kung-fu superstardom over twenty years earlier.
Connecting all the antics of bosses, monks, beggars, and thieves is the slippery and sinuous efforts of three pickpockets so adept at their chosen skill that they can even trick three beauties of their underwear without missing a step.
Shot on the Shaws' lot in the final years of Hong Kong's greatest studio, The Enchantress tells the story of martial artists who disappear in the night! Intrigued, wanna-be detective/swordsman Feng Chi-wu (Mok Siu-chung) is determined to find out what is happening. But when Feng finds out that an evil vampire spirit (Wei Chiu-hua) is killing swordsmen, he's in for more than he bargains for... It's an outlandish fairy-tale and martial arts fantasy, where your fists and sword aren't nearly enough!
Esteemed director Ho Meng-hua attained cult status among kung-fu film fans in the West with his wild and wacky martial arts hit THE FLYING GUILLOTINE. His unique directing approach focused more on the devastating nature of the horrific weapon than the kung-fu fights. One of Shaw Brothers' biggest kung-fu stars at the time, Chen Kuan-tai plays the leader of the ‘Flying Guillotine Squad’ a group of hand picked killers, commissioned by the Ching Emperor Yung Cheng, that use a deadly, beheading weapon to carry out the emperor's assassination assignments. It's actually based on a true story. Interestingly, the weapon used in the film was a complete fabrication because in real life, no one ever survived to tell what the actual weapon really looked like.