Teddy Girls

Teddy Girls

aka 飛女正傳 aka Fei nu zheng zhuan

Written by Patrick Lung Kong and Lam Nin-Tung
Directed by Patrick Lung Kong

Teddy Girls
Patrick Lung Kong’s work is not mainstream pop cinema. It is instead cinema touching on social and economic problems not touched by most films, and the few times the topics are, it’s clearly in the realm of exploitation cinema. The approach to the subject matter is more mature than much of the Hong Kong cinema of the time. While there were plenty of dramas involving family issues, the issues tackled in Teddy Girls trend more serious, and show more of societies effects on the problems, both on how they’re caused and by what they do to the people trapped in them. These are common themes in Patrick Lung Kong’s work.
Teddy Girls
What makes Patrick Lung Kong’s films stand out from other dramas is the strength to tackle difficult and controversial issues in a mature manner and still tell a good and entertaining story. Both as a writer and a director, Lung worked to better Hong Kong film at the same time Hong Kong cinema was suffering from a decline. Mandarin-language Shaw Brothers flicks outperformed and outclassed local Hong Kong productions, and the highly respected Union Film had shuttered its doors.

His directorial debut was in 1966 with Prince of Broadcasters, which foresaw the influence of radio in Hong Kong and became a hit at the box office. He followed that up with what is arguably his most famous and influential film, The Story of a Discharged Prisoner (1967), a tale about a former prisoner desperately trying to not get sucked back into a life of crime. It had a direct influence on John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow. Woo also must have seen (and borrowed from) Lung’s next film Window (1968), which features a blind woman and a criminal who fall in love. Next up was a look at youth culture with Teddy Girls, the film we will discuss at length below. Yesterday Today Tomorrow (1970), about a plague affecting Hong Kong, caused controversy, the heavily censored version failed at the box office. He continued on with My Beloved (1971) and the domestic drama Pei Shih (1972).
Teddy Girls
Lung dealt with social issues at large with Hong Kong Nite Life (1973) and then The Call Girls (1973), which featured the stories of five prostitutes. Lung Kong tackled the issue of nuclear disarmament before it was even on people’s radar with Hiroshima 28 (1974), and followed up with the quickly made Mitra (1976), filmed in Iran while he was showing Hiroshima 28 at a film festival. 1976 also saw the release of the sci-fi influenced Laugh In (1976) and Lina (1976). His final film was 1979’s The Fairy, the Ghost and Ah Chung, though he continued to be active in the Hong Kong cinema world through the turn of the century. His films went on to inspire the Hong Kong New Wave directors as they helped reshape Hong Kong cinema.

Most of Lung Kong’s films are hard to find in general, and with English subtitles they are exceedingly rare. Despite a HKFA retrospective his material still remains hard to find for the true Hong Kong cinema connoisseur.

Lung was not afraid to create serious films that tackled social issues in a non-exploitative manner. Patrick Lung Kong became one of the most influential directors in Hong Kong cinema due to how he helmed films like Teddy Girls. His attempts to escape the boundaries and touch on subjects usually avoided stand out sharper now, especially with the ease of availability of the other older films, you can see just how fluff a lot of them were.
Teddy Girls
What other director of the time could do a teenage girls in prison film and not make it feel dirty in the slightest, but still fill it with believable and sympathetic characters, humor and tragedy? Characters who suffer all types of bad influences while growing up, rebelling for their own reasons, reaching further tragedy due to the consequences of their original actions. These aren’t bad girls who are bad, these are girls who had the entire deck stacked against them. It’s no wonder some of them just fold and give up. Teddy Girls is never so cruel as when is is making you think things just might be all right for once.

Josephine’s character is running, running from an unhappy home life and disintegration of everything she knew. Her father’s decay and death while her mother found comfort in a new man, a man who is obviously a sleazy parasite.
Teddy Girls
Of the stories of the girls, Josephine’s is the most avoidable, she seems to be acting out more of simple teenage rebellion. But she becomes part of a system that is bigger than her, and life is a cruel thing at times. Josephine’s downfall is the biggest as she has the longest way to fall. Her character seems to have it all, but she lacks the one thing she craves, and she cannot stand it. Her life becomes destroyed, and her rage focused on a single target, the man she blames for ruining everything. And he’s not innocent, his motivations are scuzzy and he leaves Josephine’s mom in ruin.

Josephine is swept up in revenge, but she becomes her own victim, by acting out rashly and destructively. Not only does she destroy her life, she brings downfall on others. Misery is spread, the only lesson is how many ways this could have been avoided, by many people.

The only real drawback is the moral message at the end literally given by Kenneth Tsang Kong as the mouthpiece to one of the young ladies, bringing to mind flicks like Reefer Madness where a character will suddenly address the audience from behind a desk.
Teddy Girls

Josephine Hsu Yu-ching (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Troubled young lady furious at her mother disrespecting her dying father by hooking up with a scumbag and then ignoring her. Causes trouble and volunteers to go to lockup, but things don’t get better.
Hsu Mei (Teresa Ha Ping) – Josephine’s mother who falls for a scumbag and then things go from bad to worse as she neglects everything including her daughter and her business’s finances.
Li Chang (Patrick Lung Kong) – Hey, it’s that scumbag I mentioned in the last two entries! Li Chang is dating Hsu Mei because she has all this sweet sweet money he can use to live the high life and drop her when she’s all used up. Josephine is not too happy about that…
Ma Pi-shan (Nancy Sit Ka-Yin) – Troubled reform school girl from a broken home life, she’s doomed from the start and things just get worse and worse.
Do Shu-yan/Mr. Rector (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Do Shu-yan is the head of the reform school and is called Mr. Rector by the students. Cares for the girls but is forced to accept reality that many of them come from desperate situations and things can easily spiral out of control.
Li Shu-chun (Yip Ching) – Girl in detention who comes from a poor family with too many children and no money to take care of her siblings. Escapes to try to help her family.
Yang Shiao-chiao (Lydia Shum Tin-Ha) – Girl in juvie who’s a funny thief, uses her personality to befriend all of the girls but doesn’t cross the line into dangerous behavior.
Chen Li-fan (Mang Lee) – Lockup girl who talks obsessively about her boyfriend, but everyone notices that her boyfriend doesn’t come around any more. Breaks out to find out what the heck. The results are…killer! Listed as “Sussie Huang” on HKMDB though that’s not her name in these subtitles.

Teddy Girls
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Sword of Emei (Review)

Sword of Emei

aka 峨嵋霸刀 aka E Mei ba dao

Written by Wan Hoi-Ching and Ling Hon
Directed by Chan Lit-Ban

A Cantonese swordplay flick featuring a masked heroine, plenty of swordplay, piles of bodies, and one of the fastest paces I’ve seen in a Cantonese language feature from this time. Sword of Emei was a great surprise and a highly recommended action film. By 1969, the rails were starting to come off of the Hong Kong film insdustry, as pressure from the far superior Shaw Studios was making the local productions look like child plays. One way the industry tried to take up the slack was to push for some more adultish wuxia flicks, thus what would have probably been a slower female sworswoman (nuxia) film with a lot of gabbing in 1966 suddenly is a fast-paced action bonanza focused on one of the hot female leads of the time. And while it isn’t one of the Jane Bond flicks of the era, it does feature some of the plot tropes transplanted back to older China, along with the standard wuxia ideas like super swords and being noble bandits.

The main reason why this is so enjoyable is the pacing, so let’s give a hooray to action directors Han Ying-Chieh and Leung Siu-Chung for coming up with modern action film pacing 40 years ago! Sure, with the vast amount of action going on vs the probably minuscule shooting schedule, the action isn’t complex, and most characters get killed in a slash or two, but there is a ton of it and it makes up for the complex swordfighting that was still in its infancy at the time.

Sword of Emei was originally filmed in color, but the only released version I could find was a black and white vcd with a beat up print and burnt in subs (subtitles are rare on a lot of these films, so I’ll take what I can get!) thus explaining these blurry, blown up screencaps I have for you. According to the cast listings, there is an attempt to give some cross-national appeal with Mitr Chaibancha! Except I couldn’t spot him and didn’t even know he was supposed to be in this film until after it was over. Oops! Sammo Hung Kam-Bo is also somewhere among the many men slaughtered, but with all the carnage, he could be Guard #3 or Guard #343! So instead, let’s focus on the cast we know:

Masked Mau (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Masked Mau is also called Masked Hero in the subtitles. She’s the mysterious thief giving people fits and also dispensing justice from the end of a blade…a Chin Fang Sword blade, which is like the best sword blade ever! No one knows who she is or that’s she’s even a she! Who could she be…
Lo Fang-ying (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – orphan raised by relatives who own an inn. Her Uncle Ma taught her to hunt, shoot, and swordfight, which she totally doesn’t use as skills when dressed up as a masked thief who goes all Robin Hood on villains. Nope!
Au King (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Mystery swords guy who comes into town just in time to catch Masked Mau, but he actually falls for her and Lo Fang-ying, which we knew would happen because he’s the only available guy in the film who isn’t instantly killed!
Lord Chao Pai-tien (Sek Kin) – Jerk who acts like a jerk because his brother-in-law is the evil emperor. Terrorizes the land and the people, and totally hits on all the young ladies. But don’t tell him he does that, because he hates facts as well.
Uncle Ma (Ling Mung) – Fang-ying’s uncle who has raised her since her parents were murdered by Lord Chao. Taught her the fighting skills she uses to slaughter hundreds of people.
Aunt Ma (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Fang-ying’s aunt who isn’t too keen on all this heroine business until she decides to pick up a sword and kill people as well. And she’s good at it. Which means she had combat training also and probably killed lots of dudes…
Hsiao Lan (Sum Chi-Wah) – Constantly endangered girl who made the mistake of being attractive in an area where Lord Chao wants all hot babes chained to his bed. Wears a hairstyle that looks like she’s sporting a mickey mouse hat at certain angles.

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The Swords of Tien Shan (Review)

The Swords of Tien Shan

aka 天山龍鳳劍 aka Tian shan long feng jian aka 神劍女瘋俠 aka The Magic Sword and the Eccentric Lady Knight aka Shen Jian Nu Feng Xia

Written and directed by Wong Fung

Mysterious super swords cause a whole heap of problems in The Swords of Tien Shan. This Cantonese wuxia flick is believed to be a coproduction of two different companies, each producing one part of the two-part feature film. According to reports, part 1 was produced by Hoo King Motion Picture Co., while part 2 is credited to Lap Tat Film Co. Wong Fung (How The Ape Girl Stole The Lotus Lamp, The Blonde Hair Monster, and Golden Skeleton) wrote and directed both parts, so this looks like just a unique way of crediting a coproduction. The two films were later edited down into a single film and retitled The Magic Sword and the Eccentric Lady Knight (神劍女瘋俠), which is the version I am reviewing as the original two films are unavailable (and might be lost?)

The editing of two films into one does cause a bit of a problem, because the flow of the film is now even more disjointed, and at times characters wander off for reasons not explained, or are introduced as already established people. This is complicated because there are already so many characters, and because this is an older Cantonese wuxia flick, the pacing is already a lot more casual than a modern film. The disjointedness hurts the film, but it doesn’t mean it’s awful, it just becomes a weirder wuxia epic. It also focuses on different actors than the story of the original films, downplaying and almost eliminating several major characters. Instead, the film focuses mainly on Josephine and Sek Kin, with a lot of Connie thrown in (though at least one major Connie Chan scene is MIA)

The important thing to remember is there is a guy in a gorilla costume! This is important, because that makes The Swrods of Tian Shan TarsTarkas.NET’s entry into the new MOSS conspiracy, Hairy Beasts! MOSS is the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit, and is a collection of all the cool cats with cool websites/podcasts/shows who review and watch and read all sorts of crazy stuff. Check out other Hairy Beasts entries at the above link, including houseinrlyeh taking on Bigfoot, TeleportCity vs Red Riding Hood, and Monster Island Report and TheCulturalGutter discussing hairy beasts!

The gorilla costume looks like it is the same one used in How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp, though this film was made first and the gorilla Yin-yin is a semi-major character here. I would theorize that the gorilla costume was made for this film, but I would not be surprised at all to see it show up in other earlier films, either.

Being a Cantonese wuxia flick from the 1960s, some of the familiar stars are here. Young Josephine Siao and Connie Chan are running around (Connie playing a boy once again!) Sek Kin is a former villain, Lau Hark-suen is a weirdo, Sai Gwa-Pau and Mui Yan are “comic relief”, and Simon Yuen Siu-Tin is an eccentric kung fu master and teacher. Because of how things were carved up as the two films were merged, I’ll add in some missing portions quoted directly from the HKFA synopsis. But there will be some gaps where things make little sense. And since this film is pretty darn rare, the film synopsis will be detailed detailed detailed.

Kam Ming-chu (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Female Kam sibling who is a student of Kei Sun-kung, before her brother is killed and she is driven crazy by Snake Fruit thanks to getting involved in the Swords of Tien Shan mess.
Kam Siu-long (Connie Chan Po-Chu) – Male Kam sibling (yep, Connie Chan is playing a boy again!) who is killed when the Swords of Tien Shan mess is dropped on his rooftop. Eventually risen from the dead in a non-zombie form. Oddly enough, the Kam parents disappear from the film after his funeral and neither sibling bother to look them up later or even let them know Kam Siu-long is alive again.
Kei Sun-kung (Sek Kin) – Sifu of the Kam siblings who is a former bandit, and might not be as former as you think. He has one weakness: being behind him!
To Sam-tin (Lau Hak-Suen) – An eccentric witchdoctor who has been driven insane via ingesting Snake Fruit. He’s sane enough to try to steal the Swords of Tien Shan when they surface. Lau Hak-Suen was an actor who appeared in 488 films from 1934 until 1983 (his death). Towards the end of his career his output slowed down and he tried his hand at directing a few times. His quote “Ladies, please drink up for it’s only sugar water” lives on in the internet today.
Fatty Disciple (Mui Yan) – To Sam-tin’s larger bumbling assistant who spends most of the film doing goofy things.
Scrawny Disciple (Sai Gwa-Pau) – To Sam-tin’s scrawny bumbling assistant who also spends most of the film doing goofy things. Can act like a cat.
Iron Arhat (Simon Yuen Siu-Tin) – Monk who lives in a cave meditating all day, when he isn’t wandering around in graveyards reviving dead children. Is the most powerful person in the film, thus he doesn’t do much of anything.
Yin-yin (???) – Awesome gorilla who lives with Iron Arhat and screams an all too human scream. Likes to do good deeds.

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Jane Bond – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 10

The Infernal Brains are back again, this time with a special Guest Brain, duriandave from Softfilm, Soft Tofu Tumblr, and Connie Chan Movie Fan Princess!


Actual photo of duriandave

Join Tars, Todd, and Dave as we discuss one of our collectively favorite world movie subgenres, Cantonese female focused action films that became known as Jane Bond films! We chat about Connie Chan, Josephine Siao, Suet Nei, So Ching, Fanny Fan, Lily Ho, Chor Yuen, masked heroines, James Bond influences, theater singing, the genesis of the genre, and many films that you’ll be hunting down for the next few years! It’s an infotainment explosion of knowledge that will pack your brain with so many cool facts that they’ll start leaking out your ears and drip on the carpet! The Infernal Brains are not responsible for any carpet cleaning bills.

As usual, we got more listening choices than you can shake an unsubtitled vcd at: downloadable mp3, embedded flash with slideshow, embedded audio player, and iTunes feed link. So many choices, you’ll have to call in your secret evil gang to select them all!

Download the mp3 (right click, save as)

Watch in slideshow form:

Subscribe to the Infernal Brains on YouTube!

Click the graphic for Podcast Feed:

Click here for iTunes Feed

Films Discussed:
Black Rose – Tars Review, Todd Review, Dave Review
Spy With My Face
The Blonde Hair Monster – Dave Review
Lady Black Cat – Tars Review, Dave Review
Lady Black Cat Strikes Again
The Black Killer
The Professionals
Golden Skeleton
Dark Heroine Muk Lan-Fa – Tars Review, Todd’s series overview
Dark Heroins Muk Lan-Fa Shatters the Black Dragon Gang
Lady in Black Cracks the Gates of Hell
Gold Button
Temptress of 1000 Faces
Angel with Iron Fists
Angel Strikes Again
Wong Ang vs the flying tigers part 1 part 2

Jane Bond overview
More Cantonese Cinema information

Site Links:
Soft Tofu Tumblr
SoftFilm Blog
Connie Chan Movie Fan Princess
The Lucha Diaries
Die, Danger, Die, Die, Kill!

Prior Infernal Brains:
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 1
Taiwanese Giant Monster Films Part 2
Polly Shang Kuan
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 1
Turkish Pop Cinema Part 2
Dara Singh
Infernal Brains Podcast – 07 – Insee Daeng
Infernal Brains Podcast – 08 – Worst Podcast Ever
The Mummies of Guanajuato – Infernal Brains Podcast Episode 09

Golden Skeleton (Review)

Golden Skeleton

aka Jin ku lou aka 金骷髏

Written and directed by Wong Fung
Golden Skeleton
Josephine Siao Fong-Fong kicks butt in this crazy awesome groovy 60s spy conspiracy Jane Bondish thriller! Despite a slow start and a confusing last minute, Golden Skeleton has become one of my favorite female spy films because the villains are just so weird. The leader Golden Skeleton is a guy in a gold skull mask, his henchmen have space cadet uniforms and masks, and Golden Skeleton is seldom seen without a pair of babes in midriff-baring hot pink catsuits flanking him. Just what evil is Golden Skeleton up to? Does it matter? What matters is cool things happen. Just go with it and enjoy the spectacle. We don’t need no stinking subtitles. Okay, fine, I did a bit of Googlin’ and found some plot points not explained by watching and making up things.
Golden Skeleton
Director and writer Wong Fung helmed 88 films, including How The Ape Girl Stole The Lotus Lamp, Blonde Hair Monster, Midnight Were-wolf, The Lady Killer, Blue Falcon, and a whole host of the Wong Fei Hung films (which he wrote even more installments than he directed!) Born in 1923 in Guangxi, he began writing films in 1950, and directing in 1959. Wong Fung joined Shaw Brothers in 1973, and retired in 1980. He passed on sometime in the 1990s. The cinematography was done by Lee Maan-Git, who also worked on Bruce Li in New Guinea.
Golden Skeleton
The soundtrack is 100% jazzy jazz. It is interesting how the all jazz soundtrack makes everything seem cooler and cooler. I should use jazzy jazz to soundtrack my life, then I’ll live in a constant cool high that will come crashing down around me when my iPod runs out of batteries. Hopefully I won’t be near any tall buildings to hurl myself off of! Just kidding, I’d totally kill myself by feeding myself to lions at the zoo, not tall buildings.
Golden Skeleton

Pink Bomb aka Agent SAA9 (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – The secret agent on the case against Golden Skeleton and his goons. She’s relucently forced to accept help from Agent Guy SAA6 under her boss’s orders. Spends as much time fending off his clumsy advances as she does kicking the butts of Golden Skeleton’s goons. Pink Bomb’s real name is Jenny Lin. See more Josephine Siao in How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp and The Furious Buddha’s Palm.
Agent Guy aka SAA6 (Cheung Ying-Tsoi) – Agent Guy is our James Bond wannabe. He spends most of the film clumsily trying to seduce everything he meets. Sometimes he almost makes it! He’s also bumbles away from attempt after attempt on his life, having the luck of fools. You cannot stop Agent Guy, because he’ll trip over his own shoelace and find a code to save the world.
Chen Ho aka Agent SAA10 (Gwan Jing-Leung) – Agent SAA10 is also on the case, even though he seems to be more of a third wheel who can’t save the day himself. But he’s good to have along to absorb blows until Pink Bomb gets around to punching out the guy he’s fighting. Gwan Jing-Leung is a former Peking Opera actor (he trained under Yu Jim-yuen, father of Yu So-Chau and trainer of the Seven Fortunes (Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and all them.)) Golden Skeleton was the first film produced by Gwan Jing-Leung, who also did the fight choreography. He produced a few more films before focusing on stunt work.
Agent SAA5 (Go Fung) – It’s yet another agent! This guy is totally not suspicious at all…
Golden Skeleton (It is a mystery!) – Who could the mysterious Golden Skeleton be? He runs a giant criminal conspiracy that does…something. And he has lots of people in high places at secret agencies, because he has people everywhere! Golden Skeleton knows that having his followers dressed in ridiculous outfits is the way to go, along with having hot babes standing beside you. This is real supervillainry, folks!

Golden Skeleton
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The Furious Buddha’s Palm (Review)

The Furious Buddha’s Palm

aka 如來神掌怒碎萬劍門

1965HKMDB Link
Directed by Ling Yun

Welcome to another adventure down 1960s Cantonese cinema lane! There are no subtitles, of course, unless you count the Chinese subtitles. But we don’t need no stinking subtitles! The character names are translated by my wife. They may not perfect, but all information about the film is in Chinese so this is the best you will get in English.

This is the 5th film in the Buddha’s Palm series, takes up right after the previous films (Buddha’s Palm 1-4.) For an overview of the Buddha’s Palm series, read this article I wrote that accompanies this review. That’s what happens when I get efficient and do research on the films, they spawn additional articles. The film is only sold in a vcd boxed set, but my wife’s parents managed to get a copy from a Chinatown video store that was selling off stock, thus they have this one but none of the other ones. Don’t ask me why, I have no idea. I should try to acquire the set, photos on the internet show that Buddha’s Palm (Part 2) has robot-looking guys, a bird character, and a guy with metallic paint on his face. There is not much other information on the other three parts so I don’t know if they have cool visuals as well.

One highlight of the film is it has both of the teen queen sensations of 1960s Cantonese cinema, Connie Chan Po-Chu and Josephine Siao Fong-Fong. We also have Sek Kin as his usual role as being the villain. This is a Cantonese film in the 1960s, mind you! The rest of the regular players from 1960s Cantonese cinema are present, many of which popped up in How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp or Lady Black Cat. Since the last go-round with 1960’s Cantonese cinema, Sek Kin has passed on. He will not be forgotten, nor will this be the last thing he shows up on TarsTarkas.NET in (considering he made hundreds of films, we could be reviewing his films until the end of time!)

Lung Kim-Fei (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – His father was a great kung fu master who defeated Half-Metal Face and a bunch of other bad guys. He may be the subject of the other four films, I haven’t seen them. Husband knows the 9 Buddha Palm technique, but refuses to use it to harm people after an oath to his departed father/master. This oath gets tested when old family rival Half-Metal Face returns wanting revenge.
Kau Yuk-wah (Yu So-Chau) – wife of Lung Kim-Fei and master of magic rings. She can capture people and fight off flying swords with the rings. Doesn’t want her husband to be branded a coward. Is captured by the evil Half-Metal Face, but saved by Monkey Kid and Dragon Girl.
Monkey Kid (Connie Chan Po-Chu) – Connie Chan is the half-ape child Monkey Kid. We could not figure out if she was supposed to be a boy or a girl, but since no one in their right mind would think Connie Chan was a boy, we’re going to just use “she” as the pronoun. Monkey Kid likes causing trouble, eating fruit, and being loyal to her saviors, Husband and Wife, who adopt her after her parents die.
Dragon Girl (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Student of Half-Metal Face who begins to realize her sifu is a very bad man. Her attempts to turn him good only result in her being tortured by centipedes in her body and sent to do even more evil stuff. Luckily she makes a friend in Monkey Kid and is helped to turn good. Dragon Girl is armed with magic swords that multiply and fly around under her command. Her kung fu powers are so good her master fears her.
Half-Metal Face (Sek Kin) – Sek Kin dons long white hair all over to be evil baddie Half-Metal Face. HMF (as his friends call him) lost a leg battling Husband’s father years ago, and has spent all this time planning his revenge. Now with a giant foot, Half-Metal Face will dominate the kung fu world, unless Husband stops him.

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