On Diabolique: My three-part article, “Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio,” examines A Chinese Ghost Story, the original story by Pu Songling, and the Shaw Brothers’ Enchanting Shadow.
Near the end of its lifespan, Hong Kong’s Shaw Brothers studio decided that no film was too weird, resulting in a late-in-the-game deluge of utterly bizarre martial arts fantasy films.
Inframan is, in many ways, a perfect film, in that it is resoundingly successful in achieving what it sets out to do. Every one of its scenes could be bullet-pointed with the word “SEE!” in front of it.
The Black Rose takes the female-centric swashbuckling of wuxia cinema and the heroics of Chinese folklore and places them in a contemporary setting. It also pays service to the James Bond films.
Bat Without Wings takes the now familiar Chor Yuen wuxia trappings and injects an element of the horror film into them. Yuen’s style has always seemed somewhat informed by a combination of horror films and old mystery serials, packed as they are with sinister cults, trap doors, secret identities, and hidden chambers.
The underlying story — about a man discovering the world beyond the safe confines of his palace home, as well as discovering the sordid past of his otherwise heroic acting father — may take a back seat to all the chicken leg kungfu and lasers, but its presence at all makes Battle Wizard a cut above the usual fare.
The Web of Death is one of those martial arts films in Chor Yuen’s catalog that is inessential, but nonetheless enjoyable. It provides a nice break for completists like myself, who have had to suffer through far worse in their mission to watch every single one of the man’s films.
When innovative Shaw Bros. studio director Chor Yuen teamed up with martial arts novelist Lung Ku and the Shaw’s top kungfu film star, Ti Lung, they made beautiful music together. In 1977 the trio collaborated to create two of the best martial arts films ever made, Clans of Intrigue and Magic Blade. The success ofContinue reading “Legend of the Bat”
It looks beautiful, the actors and the characters that they play are incredibly appealing, the action is wonderfully staged and literally non-stop, and the atmosphere is so rich with romance and intrigue that it’s enough to send you into a ninety minute swoon.
When Celestial Entertainment announced in the early 2000s that they’d inked a deal to release everything in the vaults of the Shaw Brothers studio onto DVD, complete with digital remastering, subtitles, and extras, many people had a “believe it when I see it” attitude. After all, such a deal seemed far too good to beContinue reading “Clans of Intrigue”
Chor Yuen’s Magic Blade is a prime example of something I’ve always appreciated about kungfu films. You see, there are certain things that, while deemed horrible in real life, are perfectly acceptable and even admirable activities for the hero of a kungfu film. I’m not talking about the obvious will-nilly killing of anyone who offendsContinue reading “Magic Blade”