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北少林 (1976)
Tiger of Northland

Reviewed by: wblaik
Date: 03/26/2007
Summary: Lost classic...found!

This seemingly unknown HK/Korean production by Golden Harvest was only recently brought to my attention. The story, although a tried-and-tested formula, is wonderfully told. It centers around Li An (played by an admittedly wooden Tong Yuen-Hon), a martial artist who has fled to Korea, from Japanese occupied China in the 1930's.

Upon arrival, he inadvertently becomes a local hero by defending a young fighter named Pu, played by Tony Leung Siu-Hung (who also co-directed the action), in a circus-like public wrestling match against a typically brutish Japanese bully.

Sympathizing with the plight and oppression of the natives, Li An befriends Pu, who takes him to find work at a Chinese owned factory. However the tranquility of this safe haven is short lived, as the vengeful Japanese search him out, endangering both his friends and loved ones.

The action comes thick and fast, and is filmed with striking intensity by the legendary cinematographer Tadashi Nishimoto, who's, at times, achingly beautiful compositions will blow you away, while the powerfully dramatic direction of Paang Cheung-Gwai will have you flinching at the harsh barbarity of the fights where others would simply set to amaze you.

Tiger of Northland is without doubt, one of the finest Kung Fu movies I've seen in a long time. The freshness of the visuals and Korean landscape tie-in perfectly with this largely unknown cast. HK fans will no doubt notice Anthony Lau Wing as a facially scarred Japanese fighter, and an appearance by Sammo Hung (who also action directs).

Highly recommended.

Reviewer Score: 8