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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Movie Talk - More Shaw Brothers Movies

Argh! My insides are falling out-- Ooo! I know! I'll use my clothes for a substitute spleen!

Wow, January went by fast. It only felt like it just started. So far, it’s been fine but not great. I do wish the world of politics was less “Grim Dark-Grim” though. I only hope my crap kickboxing moves can sway a coming storm… yes, I’m being somewhat sarcastic. My kickboxing moves are awesome!

The last post for the month is a return to the Shaw Brothers. If you don’t remember my post from last year, I’ll refresh your memory. Shaw Brothers Ltd. was a movie studio that produced a lot of movies in the 20th century. They were probably best known for cashing in on the kung fu craze of the 70’s as they churned out a ton of kung fu movies. I looked at some of their movies last year. They were quite a surprise and ranged from decent to pretty good. Since I had fun with them last year, here are three more movies from the studio: Five Elements Ninjas, Return Crippled Avengers, and Masked Avengers. Not only was I able to watch some of these on Netflix, but I was also able to find pretty crappy copies of a couple.


Five Elements Ninjas
Five Elements Ninjas (aka Chinese Super Ninjas) was released in 1982. The movie is about a Chinese martial arts school who’s facing off against another school. The other is outmatched, so they bring in a samurai to fight for them. He too is taken down but before he commits ritual suicide, he tells our heroes that his friends from Japan will come here for revenge. The school tries to prepare for these ninjas and even sends out scouts to see if the samurai’s claim was true. Unfortunately, it’s all true as the scouts get killed and the school is eventually taken over with some help from a female ninja in disguise. The only survivor ends up forming his own team to take on the ninjas who also take over the rival school.

I thought this one was fine. It was far from perfect but I did like it. The plot is pretty simple but it does try to shake things up. While a lot of the characters were a bit bland, a couple stood out to me. Hao, the only survivor, stood out in his attitude and his pretty… interesting hair-do. Let’s just say that men don’t do bangs well and I could make some jokes about it. The “femme fatale,” Senji, was kind of interesting as well as pretty cute.
Me: Well, brother, I’m not sure but I doubt it has to do with Captain Planet. One more thing: what the crap is up with those bangs on your head?

The fight scenes were also pretty good. All of the fighters are pretty much superhuman here and that can get a little fun at times. The ninjas used the different elements (earth, fire, water, gold, and wood) to take down the opponents and it was cool to see how they got taken out. By the way, this thing is bloody. If you wonder where Kill Bill got some of its inspiration from, it’s here. As for what I didn’t like, it’s little. The story is pretty light. It kind of goes into rush mode towards the end. It’s definitely action-heavy and that can get a little tiresome. It definitely got like that at the end when the new group takes on the ninjas. Overall, this one was decent but fun.


Crippled Avengers
Crippled Avengers was released in 1978. Over in America, it was re-titled to Return of the Five Deadly Venoms for some reason. I guess they wanted to capitalize on the popularity of The Five Deadly Venoms. A lot of the actors from that movie show up here in different roles. In the movie, a rich kung fu master goes evil when his wife is killed and son gets his hands cut off. The master makes his son iron hands to use in battle and they group bully a small town. The group also make one man go blind, cut off one man’s legs, make one man go deaf and mute, and give one man permanent brain damage. The four “cripples” travel to the brain damaged man’s father. The father teaches them martial arts and helps them work around their disabilities. Three years later, the men return to the town to get their revenge.
Introducing... The Avengers! Sort of.

I thought this was pretty nice for the most part. The story is actually pretty good with this one. It is admittedly silly since we got a man with iron hands and another guy with iron legs. It’s like a comic book in that respect. You can’t take it too seriously. Still, you really feel for the guys who get crippled and really want the villains to get what’s coming to them. There are also some pretty funny moments too.
Danny Rand and Tony Stark ain't got  #### on me!

Of course, the fight scenes are pretty good. One thing I did like was that it took a while for us to get to them. Our heroes didn’t have fighting skills yet, so when they’re able to let loose in the second half of the movie, it’s cool to see. They’re a nice mix of martial arts and acrobatics. One of the more interesting moments is when the blind avenger and brain damaged avenger use these rings and get into a bit of a dance. The final fights toward the end are pretty cool too. I will say that the fighting can get a little stale toward the end especially if it’s fight scene after fight scene. Other than that, this was pretty good.


Masked Avengers
Masked Avengers was released in 1981. It also features a few actors from the other movies. In the movie, a group of masked marauders is going around murdering folk. A group of martial artists end up tracing their hideout to a small town but they don’t know who the marauders are. During the group’s stay, they run across a cook who has some skill with kung fu. It turns out that he was part of the gang but left when the gang started to kill and rape folk for fun. As more and more about the gang is revealed, it all leads to a final showdown at the gang’s hideout.
So... which one is Ultron?

This was also a pretty nice flick. The story was interesting because you didn’t have the full story on the masked gang. Everything seemed paced well. Of all of the characters, the cook stood out to me the best. You really didn’t know what was up with him until all was revealed. The fight scenes are spread throughout the flick and are pretty good. The assault on the gang’s fortress was frickin’ awesome and the final battle was really nice.

There’s not much to dislike about it the film. A lot of the characters don’t stand out much and some of the identities of the gangsters were predictable. It also didn’t help that pretty much all the men sported the same hair-do. I even got some of these dudes mixed up. Other than those things, this was pretty nice. Just remember to bring a towel for the blood. This thing can get pretty red.


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Overall, these were some nice movies. If you’re looking for some over-the-top action, you can’t do wrong here. Well, it’s time to bring Martial Arts Month to a close. There are still some things and people I didn’t get to, so I’m going to try to get to some of them over the year.  For now, I’m going to lean back and get used to working days for the next two weeks. I’ve already passed day 2 and I’m beat. For now, Peace, God Bless, and be careful out there. If one is in doubt, watch a kung fu movie to pass the time.

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