aka 馬永貞 aka Ma Yong Zhen aka Ma Wing Jing aka Killer from Shantung 1972 Written by Chang Cheh and Ni Kuang
Directed by Chang Cheh and Pao Hsueh-Li
The rise of a gangster from nothing to boss who goes down in a violent orgy of death is one of those classic tales that gets told a lot in cinema. Boxer of Shantung is no exception on delivering the basic story. What Boxer of Shantung does do, is deliver the story in an entertaining fashion that makes you cheer for the hero, even as the trappings of power cause him to abandon some of his principals.
Boxer of Shantung is Chen Kuan-Tai’s first lead role, and he brings such an energy of pride to his laborer character Ma Yung Chen that you know he is going places. As a penniless worker, he argues against the innkeeper treating his fellow poors like second-class citizens. He refuses to do a demeaning job for insulting carriage drivers, nor does he accept charity from a fellow immigrant from Shantung who has gone on to do well. He decrees that he is going to be just as successful as him one day, and soon he gets a little territory, then goes punching his way for more. During his rise, Ma remembers his poor roots and chastises his men for shaking them down for money, choosing instead to target richer districts.
The trappings of power are dangerous, and when you play the game of thrones, you play for keeps, even if the game is being a local boss in olden China. Each move leads Ma Yung Chen increasingly in conflict with the Axe Gang, their champions and boss at first seeing him as a distraction to their main rival, Boss Tan Si (David Chiang Da-Wei), but eventually focusing on Ma Yung Chen with their entire gang army.
The action starts slow in Boxer from Shantung, but builds and build until the end, where Ma Yung Chen is battling the entire Axe Gang by himself. This slow burn action may have fallen out of favor in our ADD/hyperediting modern reality, but it still works for me. The fight scenes are worth waiting for, Chen Kuan-Tai is a powerful force, and the choreography incorporates all the random objects around the landscape into the melees. With each bump into the Axe Gang, Ma Yung Chen battles both more dangerous members and just plain more and more members of the Axe Gang. Continue reading →
1969HKMDB link Directed by Chan Lit-Ban
Written by Sze-To On
Taiwan has been a source of lots of rarities, but for once let us look at a Taiwanese rare film that doesn’t have giant monsters in it. Sad, I know, but we’ll have more Taiwanese giant monster flicks soon enough. Instead, we got a sort of fantasy film that has a demon dude and funky kung fu powers, but only goes over the top in various parts. There is good fight choreography, best I have seen so far from a Taiwanese production back then. There are also lots of blood sprays and blood packs that make the sword kills rocking good fun.
Little Devil is also known as The Devil Warrior. It does not look like it was ever released in the US, so get your butt to the rare tape circles if you want a hold of this one!
Now, TarsTarkas.NET doesn’t need no stinking subtitles, and we especially don’t need no stinking subtitles when the subtitles are only in Korean! The language spoken is Mandarin, which my wife can understand but not well. So even though I scored a coup by actually getting her to watch this one (probably due to her recognizing Bobo Fung) the words were flying by too fast to catch all the small details, but we should have all the big ones. Most of the rest is a guess based on what is happening onscreen and the plot synopsis off of the HKFA.
Yeung Siu-fung (Petrina Fung Bo-Bo) – Despite being a boy, Yeung Siu-fung is played by a girl! Totally unheard of in Chinese cinema. I mean, totally normal in Chinese cinema, the weird films are the ones where everyone is the correct gender. Fung Bo-Bo was nicknamed “Shirley Temple of Hong Kong” as a child star, the daughter of actor/director Feng Feng. Her most recent role that Western audiences will know is 1992’s 92 Legendary La Rose Noire (unless you recognized her cameo in All’s Well Ends Well 2009.)
Chui Yuk-wah (Nancy Sit Ka-Yin) – Speaking of weird gender stuff, Yuk-wah is a girl played by a girl who disguises herself as a boy. Nancy Sit was a teen movie queen who retired to be married, raise kids, and get divorced. Oops! Thus, she returned to show biz in the popular Auntie Ho tv series and made mad money, and even popped up in The God of Cookery and Black Rose II.
Pak-chuen (Chiang Nan) – Yuk-wah’s father and evil dude. He hate orphans so he kills Siu-fung. He’s so evil his daughter runs away, and then he uses his magic eye power kung fu to attack Sound Devil.
Sound Devil (Gu Sam-Lam) – Sound Devil is a crazy devil guy who always has a weird look on his face, flies around, spends his spare time being buried in snow, and also rescues murdered orphans and trains them in kung fu. Just like the real devil! Gu Sam-Lam is also known as Ku Sum-lam
Mui Yau-tang (Adam Cheng Siu-Chow) – Owner of an inn with his sister. Yau-tang longs for some action in his boring life, but he can’t even get the guests at the inn to pay their bills. Gets more than he bargains for as the film progresses. Adam Cheng is probably best known to cult movie buffs for his role in Fantasy Mission Force as the boss of the female tribe, and he also appeared in The Eight Hilarious Gods.
Mui Fung-kei (Sum Chi-wah) – Sister and co-owner of the inn that Siu-fung and Yuk-wah end up at, and thus she and her bro get dragged into the drama going on.