Thunderbolt (HK 1973)

Rating: **
Action Director: Chen Kwan Tai
Cast: Angela Mao, James Tien, Pai Ying, cameos by Chen Kwan Tai, Eddy Ko

A lesser effort from Angela Mao, who gets star billing but doesn't see much action until the final battle. James Tien's clan is ambushed by the Black Tiger gang, and he's framed for betraying his family. But it's just an elaborate power play by Pai Ying to gain control of all the clans and find his ancestors' hidden treasure. After realizing they've been tricked, Tien and Mao have to come up with a way to counter Ying's deadly Hurricane Palm technique, and Tien disguises himself by means of self-mutilation. Somehow, he's still able to fight, which is pretty impressive.

As far as kung fu movies go, it's pretty dull and uninteresting, and the production is marred by embarrassingly bad makeup effects and wire stunts. The editing is awkward and scenes often collide into each other haphazardly with no sense of reason. The fight scenes are sluggish and lack energy, although Angela Mao's double-sword attack at the end of the film is pretty exciting to watch. That's pretty much all the film has going for it. Mao looks adorable as always, but isn't given much to work with. Pai Ying makes a convincingly cunning adversary, but James Tien doesn't quite have what it takes to carry the film as the hero.