Scorching Sun, Fierce Winds, Wild Fire (Taiwan 1979)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 11/28/09
Cast: Angela Mao, Tan Tao Liang, Lo Lieh, Chang Yi

An energetic kung fu brawler with a great cast. Ling-Ling (Angela Mao) is the daughter of a notorious bandit, but she's also a masked heroine known as Violet. The bandit's right hand man is the villainous Chang Yi, and he's out to stop Violet at any cost. Additionally, both he and a traveling artist are after two halves of a treasure map, but there's a lot more going on under the surface. Tan Tao Liang and Lo Lieh also have stakes in the treasure hunt, and their goofy antics provide comedy relief. The last half hour is pretty much a kung fu free-for-all as everyone's identities and motives come out in the open.

The strangest thing about this film is that it blatantly uses the musical score from "Star Wars" (1977) for the entire movie. Very unsettling. While all of the performers do a fine job, the real standout is seasoned villain Chang Yi. He's devious, cunning, charming, and sophisticated, and his kung fu is excellent. He definitely adds an element of class to an otherwise standard production. Angela Mao gets in some good fighting, as well as Lo Lieh and Tan Tao Liang. A good time all around.