Shatter (1974)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/4/99
Cast: Stuart Whitman, Ti Lung, Lily Li, Anton Diffring, Peter Cushing

Here's an oddity: a Hammer Films kung fu movie. Stuart Whitman is a professional hitman called Shatter who gets set up to take the heat for a controversial hit. After the hit, he goes to Hong Kong to collect his fee, only to find that everyone wants him dead (including security officer Peter Cushing in a cameo role). He befriends the owner of a low-rent bar (a young and handsome Ti Lung) and his sexy girlfriend (Lily Li). Ti Lung happens to be a kung fu expert, and Shatter hires him to help him stay alive long enough to get his money and put his affairs in order. Of course, numerous double crossings go down and everything ends up getting resolved in a flurry of gun fights and kung fu beatings. Stuart Whitman does an adequate job, but where the film really shines is in Ti Lung's excellent kung fu work. He looks great and his performance is full of raw intensity and physical grace. Lily Li is surprisingly cute and sexy, but she's unfortunately relegated to a minor window dressing role. She sadly doesn't get to show off her fighting skills, but she does get to show off her legs and smile a lot, which is definitely uncharacteristic for her. Peter Cushing turns in an uninspired performance and awkwardly drifts in and out of a Scottish accent. A good looking and well made actioner, it's probably most noteworthy for its funky theme music and a set piece that combines practitioners of kung fu, karate, tae kwon do, and Thai kickboxing. Pretty exciting stuff, and it's interesting to see Hong Kong styled kung fu without the over-the-top sound effects.