The Thundering Sword (1967)

The Thundering Sword [神剑震江湖] (1967)

Starring Cheng Pei Pei, Chang Yi, Shu Pei-Pei, Lo Lieh, Wu Ma, Fang Mian, Chen Hung Lieh, Tien Feng, Goo Man-Chung, Tang Ti, Ku Feng, Ching Li, Shum Lo

Directed by Hsu Cheng Hung


Released just a couple of months after Trail of the Broken Blade, The Thundering Sword exhibits similar flaws but ultimately manages to be a much more enjoyable film. Director Hsu Cheng Hung previously directed the mediocre Temple of the Red Lotus trilogy with the fun, trap-filled middle entry The Twin Swords shining far above the rest. The Thundering Sword brings back a lot of what I liked about The Twin Swords, namely some killer traps and a lot of fun kung fu fantasy, but instead of an engrossing storyline we’re left with a moderate Chinese retelling of the Shakespeare classic Romeo and Juliet.

Continue reading The Thundering Sword (1967) →

Mini-Review: The Magnificent Trio (1966)

The Magnificent Trio [邊城三俠] (1966)

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh, Cheng Lui, Chin Ping, Margaret Tu Chuan, Fanny Fan Lai, Violet Pan Ying-Zi, Lui Ming, Chen Hung Lieh, Tien Feng, Lee Wan Chung

Directed by Chang Cheh

Expectations: Moderate.


Only the second martial arts film directed by Chang Cheh (the first being the lost black and white film Tiger Boy), The Magnificent Trio delivers glimpses of many traits that would carry Chang directly to the top within the Shaw Brothers studio. Don’t go in expecting copious bloodletting though, as what’s here is all fairly minor compared to what came later. Even still, The Magnificent Trio is a mostly engaging martial drama about a group of oppressed farmers that kidnap the daughter of the county magistrate. They are aided by a hero returning home from war (Jimmy Wang Yu) and eventually by two more (Lo Lieh & Cheng Lui) in their struggle for equality among the fields.

Together with The Knight of Knights, The Magnificent Trio explores the heroic bloodshed and brotherly bonds of combat that would become staples of Cheng Cheh’s later, more popular works. The Magnificent Trio is one of the better of these early Shaw efforts thanks to this and Chang’s solid direction. Even with only a couple of previous films under his belt, Chang shows that he has a firm grasp on how to shoot action sequences, letting the choreography play out in front of a well-placed moving camera. The editing works hand-in-hand with the camera, highlighting the action in all the right places. The first forty minutes are a little dry, but it gets a lot more fun after that, as Jimmy Wang Yu surrenders himself which allows for some fun rescue action.

Genre fans will definitely want to check this one out, but newcomers will be better served by a later, more exciting Chang Cheh film.

The Sword and the Lute (1967)

The Sword and the Lute [琴劍恩仇] (1967)

Starring Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Lo Lieh, Chin Ping,  Jimmy Wang Yu, Ivy Ling Po, Yueh Hua, Cheng Miu, Lily Ho Li Li, Margaret Hsing Hui, Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Lee Wan Chung, Lau Leung Wa, Kao Pao Shu

Directed by Hsu Cheng Hung

Expectations: High, after how much I enjoyed The Twin Swords.


The Red Lotus Temple has been burned to the ground and the twin swords of Chin Ping and Jimmy Wang Yu have been entrusted with the beautiful but lethal Phoenix Lute. The lute is more than a simple musical instrument, it is capable of shooting hundreds of needles at once; crippling, killing and maiming anyone in its path. They must take it back to the Jin family, where it is to be destroyed by the Fish Intestine Sword (or the less-fun translation, Invincible Sword).

Continue reading The Sword and the Lute (1967) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: Executioners from Shaolin (1977)

Executioners from Shaolin [洪熙官] (1977)

Starring Chen Kuan-Tai, Lily Li Li-Li, Lo Lieh, Wong Yu, Kong Do, Cheng Hong-Yip, Gordon Liu Chia-Hui

Directed by Lau Kar-Leung


Another month, another film from the Shaw Bros Shaolin cycle… Except this time we have Shaw’s other prolific director at the helm. While many associate the Shaolin cycle with Chang Cheh, Lau Kar-Leung inherited the mantle in this stellar 1977 effort, which further chronicles the life of Chinese folk hero Hung Si-Kwan, played as usual by the magnificent Chen Kuan-Tai. But this film differs greatly from the concise, historical-based efforts of Chang Cheh, who placed the focus on patriotism and brotherhood against the occupying Manchu forces. Lau Kar-Leung, ever the cinematic ambassador of Chinese martial arts, instead shifts the focus to Hung Si-Kwan’s development of his renowned style, Hung Gar kung fu.

Let’s face it. Lau Kar-Leung made films for kung fu nerds. (This review will also be geared towards that crowd, so don’t feel too bad if a lot of this technical / historical gibberish leaves you scratching your head.) Don’t get me wrong, the classic revenge tale that this film tells can be appreciated by even your most casual movie fan, but to really reap the benefits of what Executioners has to offer it helps to understand some of the finer points of kung fu styles and martial technique. Hung Gar is comprised of both tiger and crane techniques. The tiger being a powerful external style based primarily on brute strength while the crane relies more on deft movements and pinpoint accuracy. Executioners from Shaolin tells what I’m assuming is a mostly fictional tale of how the tiger and crane styles became united under one banner.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: Executioners from Shaolin (1977) →

The Twin Swords (1965)

The Twin Swords [鴛鴦劍俠] (1965)

Starring Chin Ping, Jimmy Wang Yu, Ivy Ling Po, Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Lo Lieh, Tien Feng, Cheng Miu, Wu Ma, Ku Feng, Lau Leung Wa, Chen Hung Lieh, Chiu Ming, Feng Yi, Kao Pao Shu, Lam Jing, Lee Wan Chung, Wong Ching Ho, Wong Yeuk Ping

Directed by Hsu Cheng Hung

Expectations: Low. The first film was OK, I don’t expect this will be too much different. I have heard it is better though.


This is more like it. I hope you like martial arts fantasy movies, because The Twin Swords packs lots of imaginative fun into its compact runtime. Starting off with the final scene from Temple of the Red Lotus, our heroes Jimmy Wang Yu and Chin Ping battle through the villainous scoundrels of the Red Lotus clan. They are once again saved by the quick darts of the Scarlet Maid, but the forces of evil are not known for resting on their laurels. They quickly concoct a plan to lure our heroes and their twin swords straight into the Red Lotus temple, which has been newly retrofitted with tons of lethal traps!

Continue reading The Twin Swords (1965) →

Temple of the Red Lotus (1965)

Temple of the Red Lotus [江湖奇俠] (1965)
AKA “The Red Lotus Monastery”

Starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Chin Ping, Ivy Ling Po, Lo Lieh, Petrina Fung Bo Bo, Tien Feng, Ku Feng, Wu Ma, Kao Pao Shu, Lau Leung Wa, Chen Hung Lieh, Chiu Ming, Feng Yi, Ko Lo Chuen, Kok Lee Yan, Lam Jing

Directed by Hsu Cheng Hung

Expectations: Moderate, as this is such an early Shaw and it’s bound to be rough, but I’ve been building a lot of mind-hype for this over the past few months.


It all had to start someplace, and for the Shaw Studios, this is evidently the first of their films to include martial arts sequences. It fared very well at the box office, spawned two sequels (which I will be looking at in the coming weeks), and launched an entire genre. While Come Drink With Me and The One-Armed Swordsman may be more well-known films from this early period in Shaw history, Temple of the Red Lotus was their first color martial arts film and is notable for that if nothing else.

Continue reading Temple of the Red Lotus (1965) →

Uncle Jasper reviews: The Eighteen Jade Arhats (1978)

The Eighteen Jade Arhats [十八玉羅漢] (1978)
AKA The Eighteen Jade Pearls, Jade Killer, The Eighteen Claws of Shaolin, Jaws of the Black Dragon, Eighteen Deadly Arhats, Bruce Lee – The Flying Dragon

Starring Polly Shang Kuan, Lee Jan-Wa, Lo Lieh, Chang Yi, Phillip Ko Fei, Lung Fei, Ching Kuo-Chung

Directed By Jen Chieh Chang


Oh Eighteen Jade Arhats, you looked so good when we first met. You presented yourself with nothing but class and promises of wonderful times. How my heart fluttered at your awesome box art full of white-eyebrowed old men in dexterous kung fu poses and bizarre multi-limbed training machines. Your plot summary read like a smorgasbord of wu xia thrills and edge of your seat action, a veritable buffet of tasty kung fu goodness. Your opening credit sequence featuring a duo of seasoned martial artists fighting a 20-foot-tall, 14-armed robot statue nearly brought tears of joy to my eyes. Oh where did it all go wrong? I thought we had something special. Instead, our love fizzled out in a sea of dizzying confusion and broken promises.

That’s the gist of it. The Eighteen Jade Arhats, in its eager attempt to give you the world, throws a little bit of everything at you at such a frantic, breakneck speed that it ends up playing out like a collection of Shaw Bros. trailers instead of anything resembling a real motion picture. At one moment you have a dizzying, treetop wire-assisted fight scene, and at the next you have a supernatural kung fu zombie thriller. This would of course be acceptable, welcome even, if there was a shred of coherent storytelling holding the funky mish-mash together. But instead we are left scratching our heads as the film carelessly jumps from subplot to subplot like a drunken frog looking for a specific fly in a vast sea of horseshit. Hell, sometimes subplots are discarded or flat-out forgotten altogether. The viewer of course, is so batshit confused by this point that they either won’t notice or simply won’t care.

Continue reading Uncle Jasper reviews: The Eighteen Jade Arhats (1978) →

Subscribe via Email!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,606 other subscribers

Ongoing Series

Top Posts & Pages

Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Films
The Golden Seal (1971)
The Ghost Story (1979)
Chinatown Kid (1977)
Perfect (1985)
My Top 10 Favorite Sam Fuller Movies
Mini-Review: Come Drink With Me (1966)
Cinderella (1977)