Brave Archer (HK 1977)

Rating: *
Review Date: 10/15/00
Alternate Title: Kung Fu Warlords
Director: Chang Cheh
Cast: Alexander Fu Sheng, cameos by Wang Lung Wei, Dick Wei, Wei Ying Hung, Philip Kwok

Absurd and completely incomprehensible, this is a "make it up as you go" kung fu epic that's over two hours long. At the beginning of the film, two infants are separated and taught kung fu by different teachers. The teachers have promised to have their students duel in eighteen years time to determine who the better teacher is. One of the infants grows up to be Alexander Fu Sheng with truly awful hair. He accidentally kills a master of skeleton claw kung fu and makes some bitter enemies. As he dies, the villain cries out "My entire body is invincible except for the center of my navel!" As the great duel draws near, we learn that the other infant has been adopted by a powerful official and grown into a snobbish brat. He has also learned some "evil techniques" on the side, but after a pointless bout with a stunningly beautiful Wei Ying Hung, we don't see him again. With the entire duel storyline abandoned, the story shifts to some evil guys trying to achieve some nebulous goal. Fu Sheng swears to avenge his father's death, but then the villains are defeated when Fu Sheng's previous teachers show up. It so happens that his old teachers are bitter enemies with Fu Sheng's girlfriend's parents, and a new rivalry begins. Fu Sheng deserts his teachers and follows his girlfriend to her peach blossom island, only to become imprisoned there with an eccentric Philip Kwok who offers him some sage advice - "If you get married, your kung fu will suffer!" THEN, the girl's father decides to marry his daughter off to one of the villains, but Fu Sheng protests and the father agrees to a series of duels between the suitors. Fu Sheng manages to win, and the couple is happily married. Huh?!?

As if the disjointed story isn't confusing enough, there is also some totally bizarre kung fu going on. One of the villains has a giant snake that he's been raising on ginseng for the last twenty years. Drinking its blood makes you invincible, and it just so happens that Fu Sheng gets attacked by the giant rubber snake at one point and has to bite it in self defense. "You drank my snake's blood, and now I'll drink yours!" screams the villain. Fu Sheng also learns how to knock down trees with his eighteen palms technique, and learns how to have his hands fight independently of each other. (this helps him out in the "music tempo" duel...) The film is pretty much a complete fiasco, but the lead actress is very cute and charming, and she ultimately steals the show. Unfortunately, her name was completely illegible in the credits sequence. Also, Ti Lung was featured prominently in the credits, but is nowhere to be found in the film! The only other bright spot is the one fight that Wei Ying Hung gets into, and she's very pretty in this film. Other than that, this film is not worth the effort.