1978 Directed by Juang Lung (as Huang Lung)
Written by Tsai Yung
Deadly Strike is a pretty good kung fu film. It follows a pretty average plot, but takes it and runs with it, making the entire film be a whole lot of fun. There is rarely a dull moment, and they only occur when setting up the next cool fight sequence. The basic plot involves a new sheriff taking on a gang of bandits, recruiting some prisoners to help him as the bandit thugs get tougher and tougher. It all plays out like a video game, and Bruce Li does a good new Sheriff who is eager to kick some bandit butt and save the people. And many people die. The plot sounds familiar, and the style is similar to films about the Old West. I am sure there are probably research appears on how old film Westerns influence films from all over the globe, but I am hardly an expert in the matter enough to give more than an outline. Taking basic stories and transplanting them to new settings is not a new event, and it continues to happen to this day in multiple directions.
The plot of the film necessitates that there is a great number of actors and memorable bit parts, so we will have one of the rather large Roll Calls that stretch throughout the film review. We have tried to identify many of the actors, but there is scant information and many are either best guesses or left blank for later. Some of the faces are familiar to fans of the 1970s kung fu film genre, so it is only a matter of time before everyone is properly credited. So we will start out with our main characters:
Captain Chen (Bruce Li) – Chen as his name is a guess based on what one guy said quickly that could be misunderstood as some other name. So we will call him Captain, as that is what everyone else does. Put a little captain in you? This guy is the best fighter in China, it seems, and the only hope to save the village from the bandits. Bruce Li previous fought on TarsTarkas.NET in New Guinea, so he is used to exotic locales.
Wu Tung (Tsang Chiu) – The lazy assistant to Captain, he soon grows into a good fighter and loyal companion, but he dies. That always happens. Stupid dyers, stop dying!
The Cook (Chiang Han) – The Cook has a black scar/mole/something that makes him stand out, but still ends up dead. That is what happens when you run off in the middle of a long quest!
Chow Quay Ah (Choi Wang) – Chow Quay Ah killed three men, but a flashback shows they were three men who killed two women. Chow Quay Ah was just enraged at how horrible of people they were. Has a son and a mother, but his wife has passed on. Choi Wang has been in dozens of films but hasn’t appeared on TarsTarkas.NET before.
Ni Gi (Lung Fei) – One eye – A knife expert who killed a corrupt magistrate for being corrupt. Makes sense. Doesn’t like to kill people who don’t deserve it. Lung Fei might show up again if I ever get around to watching my copy of Bruce Lee Against Supermen.
Wang Chow (Su Chen-Ping) – Wang Chow was arrested for stealing a magistrate’s mistress – he is hilarious! Does several gags throughout the film. Not the best fighter, but does what he can do to help. Su Chen-Ping has also been in a bunch of films, including Way Ching Killed the Dragon which I must track down.
Wei Gun (Li Min-Lang) – Wei Gun had three wifes, beat them all and one died. Whip user. Takes a shine to Yi Lin because that is the kind of guy he is. Ends up dead before the rest due to it. Li Min-Lang is somewhere in Island Warriors.
Yi Lin (Chu Lai) – The girl who is out for revenge for reasons not explained well. She will use her body to destroy the enemy. No, not by STDs, you pervs! Chu Lai was only in a few films.
Thug leader Fan Ta Hu (Sing Chen) – The deadliest villain of them all, Fan Ta Hu controls a vast network of bandits that raid villages at will, cause all sorts of problems, and have the local police too scared to fight them. Fan Ta Hu fights cobras to keep himself fast, and spends his fights high on drugs so he will feel not pain. Will soon learn you can’t mess with the Captain! See Sing Chen here in Bruce Li in New Guinea and Lady Iron Monkey.
Starring (This is guesswork)
Fung Ling Kam as Ming Ling Shur (the Ape Girl)
Lap Bo Au as Drunken Monk
Sing Chen as Prince Yan Shing
Man Tai Lee as Evil Advisor
Lo Lieh as Assassin Millenrapen Directed by Chi-Hwa Chen
Lady Iron Monkey (or The Ape Girl as it was known before producers tried to cash in on Iron Monkey getting a theatrical release in America) is a pretty fun flick that takes us to a world where a girl is raised by monkeys, and uses her monkey abilities to become a master of kung fu. She beats up plenty of people along the way, and her monkeyness gets her into several spots of trouble. The films doesn’t take itself too seriously, bordering on campy, but is serious enough that they don’t do any of the annoying “acknowledging that they’re in a movie” type stuff. The goofiness allows the movie to flow quickly and to the point, and you get disarmed from questioning the logic of certain events. In addition, some of the plot is centered on actual Chinese history, though that is prevalent in many Chinese Kung Fu films, some of which is ruined by terrible dubbing. Even if this is just a response to Charlton Heston demanding damn dirty ape stinking paws off him, it’s still pretty entertaining. Actress Fung Ling Kam/Gam Fung-Ling (or Kim Fung Li as she’s billed as) wasn’t in many films, IMDB has this as her sole credit and I only found two more that even listed her (thanks to Google) titled Iron Bridge Kung-Fu and The Gloomy Tower (aka Shaolin 36 Beads, which was released on DVD – UPDATE: I recently saw The Gloomy Tower and Gam Fung-Ling is nowhere to be found) IMDB being incomplete regarding Asian cinema? I never!! At least they even have a listing for this film. Lady Iron Monkey also has early roles for Lo Lieh, who plays an assassin and would go on to be a very famous martial arts star; as well as Chen Sing, who also had a long career despite not reaching the level of fame as Lo Lieh. With this information here, we will seemingly become the leading resource for information about The Ape Girl/Lady Iron Monkey
The opening credits is the traditional 1970’s kung fu movie opening with the star posing different stances as the credits run by. We get Ming Ling Shur, the Ape Girl, dancing around doing her monkey style kung fu, and who is she joined by? A chimpanzee! Chimpy is flipping around, doing some of the same flips and jumps Ming Ling Shur does as well. The print is pretty scratched up, but it’s suddenly clear as day when the title appears (because it’s a retitle.) Ming Ling Shur is a hairy girl, with hair on her arms and monkey makeup on her face. She’s also pretty good at acting like a monkey, with big, exaggerated movements. It adds to the charm of the film, as does the Ape Girl Theme which plays during the lighthearted moments. This is a film about an ape girl, it isn’t going to be the most serious thing in the universe.
Bruce Li (Ho Chung Tao) as Chang Wang-li (aka Bruce Lee)
Chan Sing as Great Snake Wizard Guru
Danna as Ann Kawa
Chin-kun Li as Chin Sang
??? as Tu Yung – one of the guides (shorter)
??? as The crosseyed guide
??? as Cheng Pow Directed by C.Y. Yang
Bruce Li is Bruce Lee is Chang Wang-li in Bruce Lee in New Guinea, part of Bruce-ploitation Mania of the 1970’s and 1980’s. Bruce Li (real name Ho Chung Tao) was one of the dozens of Bruce Lee imitators renamed Bruce Something or Something Lee in the wake of the death of the King of Kung Fu. Bruce Lee ended up doing all sorts of wacky things once every other movie coming out of Hong Kong was patterned after him to make a quick buck. This is not as wacky as some of them (The Clones of Bruce Leeanyone?) but is still pretty silly. The real question is, would the real Bruce Lee bother going to New Guinea? I think not! Bruce Lee (Li) does end up on Snake Worship Island, I don’t want to give away what they worship there, but it isn’t King Kong. Let’s just say Wacking Day would be a sacrilegious event. It’s important to note that Bruce Li is not supposed to be Bruce Lee, but some guy named Chang Wang-li, an anthropologist who is not a former 1970’s martial arts star, thus the “Bruce Lee” in the title is a complete lie. Not that the producers would care after they got your hard earned money. Sometimes this film is more truthfully titled Bruce Li in New Guinea. Co-starring is the lovely Danna as the Princess, who was being pushed as an international sex symbol at this time, but soon faded to obscurity. Much like this film, except it was never pushed as anything more than a cheap buck, and it shows that, in spades.