Chia Plotting

“Shaolin Rescuers” or “The Avenging Warriors of Shaolin” was released a few days before “Kid with a Golden Arm”, and is one Chia Plotting the best of Chang Cheh. The total Venom’s mob was cast and they put in incredible shows in this story of valor and friendship. This film had been outclassed by 2 movies by Liu Chia Liang – “Mad Monkey Kung Fu” and “Dirty Ho” – released by Shaw Brothers during 1979 but “Shaolin Rescuers” massively out-grossed”Fist and Guts” and “Dragon Fist”.

The three important characters played in the movie were by Kuo Chi (Philip Kwok), Sun Chein and Lo Meng. Lu Feng and Chiang Sheng were cast for important supporting characters. Lu Feng and Chaing Sheng choreographed the entire movie and were ably supported by Robert Tai. The role of a Chinese hero was given to Jason Pai Piao and Hung Sze Kwan also played an important role in the movie.

The plot of the movie goes like this. Ah Chien (Lo Meng) works ata local bean-curd industry and has a good friend in the form of Ying Cha-Po (Kuo Chi) who is a waiter at an eatery. Both are victim of ill-treatment from their bosses and their favorite time pass is practicing Kung Fu. One day they save Chu Tsai (Sun Chein) during a brawl. Tsai is employed at a dye firm and is also an exponent on post fighting on the ground.

The problems begin when San Te and Fong Sai Yuk are killed when they try to stop the evil Pai Mei from destroying temples around the city. Not a clever way to initiate a movie by killing two greatest figures in the world of Kung Fu, one might say. But, nothing was impossible for Chang Cheh.

The story slowly evolves with the escape of Hung Sze Kwan, Chein finally getting hold of injured Kwan and Chein help him get well and the final face-off in the dye-factory. At the end of the movie, Ah Chein and Ying Cha-Po fulfill their dreams of becoming heroes.

The action sequences in the movies are few but Chang Cheh demonstrates how to build an amazing climax out of a power-packed plot. Remarkably, the action sequences are less bloody when compared to other Cheh’s movies. The action scenes are beautifully choreographed and Lu Feng and Chang Sheng proved once again why they were the best in the business when it came to creating dream action sequences.

Chang Cheh creates a fantastic balance by moving from one fight to another in a prudent manner. Excellent editing makes certain that one is enthralled with a fight and still itching to get back to the last fight scene. One feels that the movie should have been shown on five different TV sets. The climax is unexpected. The only supposed flaw was the time-to-time use of flashback shots and the trampoline skills by Kuo Chi. This is probably one of the best Chang Cheh movies ever.

This time the story is set around a series of events in Shanghai during WWII. Based on a short story by Eileen Chang, Any Lee’s film tells the tale of Wong Chia Chi, a Chinese student caught up in a plot to kill Japanese collaborator, Mr Yee. When the original plot falls through, years pass before Wong gets a 2nd chance. What follows is an emotionally and physically charged piece tackling everything from love to torture and back again.

Ang Lee’s film is simply stunning, those used to the sweeping country vistas of Brokeback Mountain and Crouching Tiger, will be equally mesmerised as a beautifully realised Shanghai is brought to the screen. The attention to detail is so stunning; it’s difficult to remember you’re watching a film and not a documentary.

What starts out as a relatively simple honey trap, slowly turns into some far more taxing as undercover agent, Wong slowly falls for her mark, the emotionally distant and sadistic Mr. Yee. What follows is a carefully played out game of cat and mouse, as each person slowly lets their guard down bit by bit. Eventually, when Wong finally does snare her man she finds his coldness extends as far into the bedroom as it does his work life.

Much has been made of the graphic sex scenes, and while the director spares no punches in showing this aspect of the turbulent relationship, it is certainly not a film that titillates or sensationalises its subject matter. In fact it was slightly reminiscent of Ai No Corrida in it’s handling of a relationship hurtling towards an unfortunate end.

While the pacing of the film may not be to everyone’s cup of tea, the performances of the central actors, Wei Tang and Tony Leung Chiu Wai are absolutely spellbinding.

A slow building character piece that builds to a devastating, yet under played conclusion; Ang Lee seems incapable of putting a foot wrong.

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