The Bravest Revenge
aka 武林龍虎鬥 aka Wu Lin Long Hu Dou
Written by Tin Goh
Directed by Kim Lung
Can you believe there is a Polly Shang Kuan film where her parent is killed and she has to seek revenge? I know, right? That only happens in like 99% of the films she did, and it happens here! Revenge will be gotten, and of the bravest sort, at least that’s what the title claims! We all know who Polly Shang Kuan is, so no need to do a deep dive into her, but if you want to know more we covered her in an Infernal Brains podcast and she has an active tag on TarsTarkas.NET with plenty of wonderful films! Tien Peng is his usual heroic self as Sword King Tsai Ying-che, and Yee Yuen hams it up as the glorious villain like he usually does in films such as The Flying Swordgirl
Director Kim Lung (aka Chien Lung) helmed Taiwanese flicks in the 60s and 70s, many featuring revenge themes and many featured female protagonists. Among his films are these cool-sounding ones from 1966 – The Lady Spy, The Flying Killer, and Queen of Female Spies Jin Gang. He also directed 1967’s Dragon Inn, not to be confused with the classic King Hu 1967 Dragon Gate Inn. Most of his filmography is either unavailable or known only to those who collect Taiwanese kung fu movies, and Bravest Revenge might be his best known film now.
Bravest Revenge is actually pretty good for a standard murder revenge kung fu movie, because it has huge fight sequences. There are multiple scenes of characters carving their way through dozens of people like butter in giant choreographed fights, they are fantastic! The last 30 minutes is an almost non-stop battle through themed stages of a giant fortress as the heroes slice through goons and are only occasionally slowed by the various mini-bosses. If this came out today this would be accused of imitating a video game, but it is from 1970 and all we had for video games then was things like Spacewar!, so maybe it is more accurate to say all video games stole from Bravest Revenge!
Mr. Hsih was a cop, one of the best their ever was, he even captured the vile criminal Chau Mu-tien. You remember him, he was on Ancient China’s Most Wanted. Now he spends his days teaching his three sons and one daughter kung fu. The vile villain Chau Mu-tien has escaped and is robbing again, and when Officer Lee visits to ask Mr. Hsih to come back and capture Chau Mu-tien again, Mr. Hsih must. Problem is, he is quickly murdered by the vengeful Chau Mu-tien. In front of Mr. Hsih’s four children, no less! The kids also get a good beating. Mr. Hsih was killed by the Chui-hueng sword, which blinds dad with a reflection in the eye just before he is offed. The dying father tells his kids to find good martial arts teachers so they can avenge him, specifically to look for some guy named Sword King The kids plan to reunite after 5 years and get revenge.
You know, I would like to see a kung fu film where the kids train for five years to avenge their father, only to find out the killer died of pneumonia or something.
Five years later, Polly is being taught in a women enclave where she is now a master of double daggers and can hop around thanks to wirework. It is interesting that at one point in training, she even fights a ten year old girl. I want to see the movie the ten year old girl is in the middle of her training montage for. That will be a cool flick. So here is a rundown of the four siblings and what they are training on:
Hsih Fung Yi (Polly Sheng Kuan) is learning the aforementioned Double Dagger training. Oldest brother learns swordfighting and gets a mother-son bullet from his sifu. Middle Brother learns chain fighting and fighting while walking on water (I guess this is…Jesus style kung fu!) The Youngest Brother – Chu Yi-Fung (also the only brother who has his name mentioned out loud in a context where I could identify who it was!) – learns how to impale rocks on his fingers and catch knives in his hand and mouth. The biggest disappointment is a lot of these things aren’t used in any sort of dramatic effect, they are just extra powers the heroes have.
They reunite at an inn and have various adventures with a thief and fighting off some of Chau Mu-tien’s men who are kidnapping the mayor’s daughter. It seems in five years no one has bothered to go against the evil guy who is building his own sovereign state through terror and murder, so it’s up to the siblings to take him down. Also Tsai Ying-che, the Sword King, is around and ends up aiding the heroes when Chau Mu-tien comes to town to kill them. One thing about this film is it isn’t afraid to have the villain meet the heroes early, and he’s constantly showing up and beating the crap out of them, the heroes barely escaping. Chau Mu-tien is just the baddest fighter around, as showcased in a scene where he’s in a brothel when like 50 local police come to arrest him. Chau Mu-tien hopes out and kills the whole lot of them in a long fight sequence that just showcases how ridiculously overpowered he is.
Sword King goes off on a quest to get the legendary Sun Sword from Sky Swordman, which means he is out of the way for a while as more fighting comes to a head. Eventually the surviving siblings storm the compound where Chau Mu-tien is hiding and fight their way through waves and waves of goons to get to the big bad, while Sword King hurries back to help them and Chau Mu-tien is still as overpowered as he was so there is no reason to think he just won’t slaughter all the heroes.
I’ve seen criticisms of the long fight sequences but I rather liked them, less talking more slicing, I always say! Especially in line at Baskin Robbins, shortly before they call the police again. The whole setup remixes a lot of things in the usual revenge movie around, which gives it some unique flavor despite following enough of the trappings that it still slots directly into the category. The result is enough to bump it up from the usual average suspects, but it isn’t enough to turn Bravest Revenge into a must-see classic.
Please give feedback below!