Posts tagged "Chia Ling"

Iron Swallow (Review)

Iron Swallow

aka 鐵燕 aka Tie Yan aka Shaolin Iron Eagle
Iron Swallow
1978
Story by Chu Yu
Directed by Cheung Pooi-Shing (as Chang Pay-Cherng)

Iron Swallow
Revenge is a dish best served cold. That’s what some Klingon guy told me, anyway. Iron Swallow is basically a kung fu version of I Know What You Did Last Summer, except it’s a decade later and the children of the slain are the ones having revenge. Revenge is the topic of discussion, because it’s the topic everyone is talking about.

The elders did a horrible crime they refuse to talk about to anyone or even each other. It quickly becomes obvious that it involves rape, murder, and bribes to cover up their deeds. Many of them spent years worrying about the crimes, some throwing themselves into philanthropy out of guilt. None of the characters will call the authorities when attacked, because they don’t want to drag up their sordid histories. This leaves their younger relatives confused and frustrated, knowing something bad is happening and seeing their parents unwilling to do anything about it.

The revenge plot is so much the sole focus that there isn’t some of the usual kung fu tropes. No one seeks out a great master, there is no training montage. There isn’t a gallant knight hanging out in disguise to set things right. It is just pure revenge. The purity of the focus of Iron Swallow is welcome, sometimes films try to do too much and end up accomplishing nothing, while Iron Swallow does what it is supposed to do and does it well.

The problem with all these lovely dubbed kung fu features is it is impossible to get anyone’s name correct, so please excuse me if the character names I use don’t sound exactly like the ones you hear when you watch the film. There is rarely consensus on just how the characters’ names are said by the dubbers, changing depending on who is speaking or what accent the ex-pat in Hong Kong/Taiwan who is doing the part has. Occasionally, the dubbers pronounce the same name differently in two concurrent sentences. Thus, all references to Chia Ling’s character will just be Iron Swallow.
Iron Swallow

Iron Swallow (Chia Ling) – Iron Swallow is the daughter of a murdered man, out to avenge his death by maiming those responsible for his death and the subsequent coverup. She arrives in town with her Aunt, who is also a victim of the incident that started everything. Iron Swallow has focused her entire life on getting revenge. She leaves trademark iron swallow darts with red tassels, which the enemy later uses to frame her. Iron Swallow’s actual name might be Chin Yeh.
Ko Fang (Ting Wa-Chung) – A kung fu student being raised by his single father, who is marked as a target by Iron Swallow. Ko Fang soon learns that all he thought was true was a lie, and that he’s more involved in the revenge drama than he knows. He is best friends with Tu Lung, who is like a brother to him.
Tu Lung (Don Wong Tao) – Son of Chu Hsaio Tien and best friend of Ko Fang. Tu Lung is the idyllic youth who soon learns that things weren’t as clear cut as he thought they would be when he was learning about the world. He’s soon dragged into the confrontations due to familiar and friendly connections, torn between the two sides and his reluctance to join in the violence.
Wu (Wong Wing-Sang) – A Fortune Teller who is really a skilled kung fu assassin hired by Mr. Chu to kill everyone connected to the case before it comes back on him.
Chu Hsiao Tien (Yee Yuen) – Kung Fu Master and local bigwig responsible for a horrible crime and the resulting cover up, which dooms everyone a decade later when it comes time for revenge. Even then, he refuses to take responsibility and tries to kill his way out of it.
Mo Tu Ping (Hung Kin-Wing) – A Mystery Man who keeps popping up to aid Iron Swallow for reasons unknown. It is eventually revealed his father was Mo Shing Yee, Iron Swallow’s father’s best friend, and died alongside him in the original incident. Now the son continues his family’s legacy.

Iron Swallow
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - October 17, 2014 at 12:36 pm

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Fight for Survival (Review)

Fight for Survival

aka 十大掌門闖少林 aka The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique aka Shi da zhang men chuang Shao Lin aka Lady Wu Tang
Fight for Survival 十大掌門闖少林 The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique
1977
Written and directed by Hou Cheng

Hold on to your hats with shock, as here is a Polly Shang Kuan film where things are weird! I know, right? Who would have thought! As usual, it’s a good weird, part of the kung fu comedy atmosphere of the late 1970s. Fight for Survival/Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique (the much cooler name I first learned of the film as!) is packed with a bunch of big named cameos, characters who developed odd body modifications thanks to whatever kung fu specialty they have, gender bending, cornball comedy, and terrible dubbing. If you enjoy characters with extending arms and legs, who employ weird headbutts and walk on their hands, or who are randomly painted up as animals and waiting in rooms at the Shaolin Temple, then you are in for a treat.
Fight for Survival 十大掌門闖少林 The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique
The version I have is fullscreen and dubbed, which is a shame, as this film has a lot of neat choreography and costumes that requires a widescreen high-definition transfer to get the best effects. I guess I can expect that the same day the widescreen Monkey War shows up on remastered Blu-ray, aka NEVER! What a shame the wildest and craziest movies are also the most ignored when it comes to high quality.

In this film, Polly’s character Shih Pu Chuan sets out to recover 10 books stolen from the Shaolin Temple, each volume teaching one kung fu technique, and each technique has been mastered by the respective theif of that volume. But, if you only learn one of the kung fu skills, your body soon begins to modify itself based on that kung fu skill. Thus, the guy who learns to extend his arms has permanent long arms. The guy who stretched his legs looks like he’s walking around on stilts. The woman who stole the Positive Kung Fu book turns into a man, and the guy who stole the Negative Kung Fu book turns into a woman. The only way to not get physically screwed up is to learn all the skills so there is a balance. Even Shih Pu Chuan isn’t immune, her female character begins to turn into a man, and her sifu can’t remember how to do Negative Kung Fu. That leads him into discovering the Temple let the books get stolen and her subsequent quest. At one point it is declared that the villains can’t turn back to normal because they are evil, which might be saying that without balance, you are evil. Just remember, folks, every thing in moderation.
Fight for Survival 十大掌門闖少林 The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique
Of course, that also leads to yet another film where Polly Shang Kuan plays a gender bending character. This time she’s officially playing someone who is both sexes, though her long term goal is to stay a female. The only real disadvantage of turning male is gaining a faint mustache and having lots of ladies falling in love with you. As the main lady is the woman who used to be the man who stole the Negative Kung Fu book, things become tragic irony.

The main tale of the training and quest only eats up about an hour of the running time, we then have extended scenes where the many cameos attack Shaolin Temple because their followers (some of the followers were involved in the theft and some weren’t) are arrested in public. Now Shih has to defend her home from all these new people, but thankfully she now has lots of skills with which to do so.
Fight for Survival 十大掌門闖少林 The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique
The crazy specialties of the thieves gives us some awesome goofy kung fu, along with a whole host of guest stars who pop up when the thieves impersonate them in the beginning, and then return in the end when the real versions of the masters attack the temple. The cast is one of those ridiculously huge casts that makes me want to do a Roll Call 30 people long, and is filled with actors who aren’t identified very well. Luckily, I came to my senses, and it’s only 4 people long! We’re aren’t obsessively stupid at TarsTarkas.NET for nothing!

Like most of the Taiwanese kung fu comedies, the humor is a mix of slapstick and reaction shots. These aren’t films that are taken seriously by hardcore martial arts fans. Add to that the ridiculous dubbing and often awful fullscreen vhs presentation, and you can see why these flicks don’t get any respect. Which is a shame, because the ri-donk-ulousness is awesome! I’ll take a film that knows how to have fun over a dramafest that takes itself far too seriously any day!
Fight for Survival 十大掌門闖少林 The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique

Shih Pu Chuan (Polly Shang Kuan) – Wants to become a student at Shaolin Temple despite the “no girls” rule, is tricked into performing the first step, then accepted as a student by an eccentric monk. Eventually initiated into the Temple and restores its honor by recovering lost sacred texts. And she beats people up! Almost becomes a man.
Uncle Lin Chiu (Chan Wai-Lau) – The 109th Abbot, who trains Shih Pu Chuan despite the fact that she’s a girl! He’s an old former abbot who lives under a waterfall and is generally bitter to everyone. Fakes his death to help Shih Pu Chuan recover the stolen Ta Mo Classics.
Ching Fang (???) – One of two apprentice monks who attempt to take advantage of Shih Pu Chuan and end up punished, while she becomes a kung fu heroine, and enlists them as servants. I do not know the name of the guy who plays him. Both this unknown actor and Che Chi-Sang appear with Polly Shang Kuan as her two goofy followers in both Zodiac Fighters and Little Hero. I can only theorize that this means all three of these films are part of the same series. The fact that Fight for Survival is the first of the three released and features the two meeting only supports my wild unsubstantiated claim.
Ming Yuen (Che Chi-Sang) – The other, goofier, fatter monk. Is Ching Fang’s partner in crime. Becomes a loyal servant to Chih Pu Chuan.

Fight for Survival 十大掌門闖少林 The Fight for Shaolin Tamo Mystique
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Posted by Tars Tarkas - June 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

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The Legend of Mother Goddess (Review)

The Legend of Mother Goddess

aka 天后 aka Tian Hou Chuan aka 天后傅 aka 媽祖收妖

1975
Written and directed by Hou Cheng

The Legend of Mother Goddess is a biopic of the religious figure Mazu (aka Matsu/妈祖), known as the Goddess of the Sea. To make things more interesting, the producers threw in a bunch of giant monsters and fantasy elements, thus giving the film legs in the Western cult movie circuit. Worship of Mazu began over 1000 years ago and there are temples all over the world. Find one today! Legend of Mother Goddess even tells the tale of how Mazu got her two guardian guys.

The first tape I got had Korean subs written over the Chinese/English subs, and thanks to a second generation vhs transfer, the English subs were hard to read. Thus…the names might not be right. Who to blame? Obviously, the person to blame is President Taft. That fat bastard! Luckily I later got a better copy with good subtitles, so although it looks way better, I can’t use my cool “We don’t need no stinking subs” tag. Woe is me…

If you wish to learn more about Taiwanese Kaiju, there is a two part Infernal Brains podcast on the subject, here and here.

Lam Mak-Leung (Chia Ling) – aka Goddess Matsu aka Mother Goddess gets a magic book that cures sick people, fights dragons and brings happiness. Thus, she is worshiped as Goddess of Heaven. I’m pulling all the names from what the subtitles say, even if the official Romanization of 林默娘 is Lin Moniang. Chia Ling is also known as Judy Lee thanks to distributors cashing in on Bruce Lee.
White Dragon (???) – A magic kid who lives in a well who turns into a white dragon. White Dragon gives Mak-Leung a wordless book direct from God that she’s supposed to study, and White Dragon will be living in the well ready to help her when she needs it because he’s being punished.
White Dragon (Puppet) – The dragon form of White Dragon.
Inspector Yuen Lam of Meichow (Fang Mian) – Lam Mak-Leung’s long-suffering father, who keeps having daughter after daughter after daughter. Which is shameful because back then people were dumb like that.
Ears of 1000 Miles (???) – Demon creature who can hear 1000 miles. He’s running around being a jerk until Lam Mak-Leung outsmarts them and forces them to be servants and good. Based on legendary guardian general “With-the-Wind Ear” (順風耳/Shunfeng Er) who is usually depicted as green with one horn.
Eyes of 1000 Miles (Wang Tai-Lang) – Demon creature who can see 1000 miles. He’s also running around being a jerk until Lam Mak-Leung stops by. Based on legendary guardian general “Thousand Miles Eye” (千里眼/Qianli Yan) who is usually depicted as red with two horns.
Monster (Man in suit!) – A giant Godzilla-ish dinosaur who sucks in the wind and clouds. Lives in the Western Mountains. The monster suit was used in Boy in a Magic Box.
Huge dragon guy (Puppet) – The ghost of the monster calls his brother to avenge his death, his brother lives in the ocean and is a huge dragon guy. He floods Meichow, which is the town Mak-Leung lives in. The dragon demands Mak-Leung for revenge, but that White Dragon who lives in a well pops out and we got a dragon fight! Two dragon puppets battle it out. You have never seen such hot dragon fighting action between two dragon puppets.


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Posted by Tars Tarkas - August 5, 2012 at 2:22 pm

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