Ten Tigers Of Kwangtung (HK 1979)

Rating: **
Review Date: 1/7/01
Director: Chang Cheh
Cast: Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Philip Kwok, Wang Lung Wei, Chin Siu Ho (?), cameos by Dick Wei, Wei Pai

An interesting premise with some awesome kung fu, but the execution is confusing and rather lacking. The Ten Tigers of Kwangtung are a group of kung fu fighters led by the wise and charismatic Ti Lung. They're hiding and protecting the leader of the anti-Ching revolution from Wang Lung, who has been ordered to arrest him. All of these events happen in an extended flashback, and they're the most interesting parts of the film. Back in the present, the sons of the Ten Tigers are being systematically murdered by Wang Lung's son and his uncle in order to avenge Lung's death at the hands of Ti Lung. Finally at the end of the film, the two remaining kids (including a young Chin Siu Ho?) take on the two remaining bad guys in a spectacular display of kung fu skill. Very impressive. Then the film abruptly ends with a shot of the Ten Tigers sending their refugee friend away on a boat.

The storytelling is by far the weakest link in this film, as it's often confusing or just plain boring at times. Ti Lung gives an excellent performance and lends a sense of class and maturity to the production, which balances out some of the more eccentric players. The kung fu is good, although much of it is pointless due to Fu Sheng's hot temper and eagerness to start a fight with anyone. And once again, he's the only member of the cast with really awful hair - an unsettling trend in Fu Sheng's filmography. Director Chang Cheh also exhibits his flair for bloodletting and a certain sense of the absurd. In the final showdown between Ti Lung and Wang Lung, Wang resorts to using his ultimate weapon - a giant golden club in the shape of a naked woman! What the hell?!? But Ti eventually defeats him, resulting in an outrageous blood geyser spraying forth from Wang's broken skull. There's also a rather gruesome scene of a guy's head being kicked clean off and the resulting blood flow - all captured in glorious slow motion. At its best, it's very entertaining and all of the characters are unique and interesting. At its worst, it's tiresome and hard to follow.