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採陽女幫主 (1981)
The Guy with Secret Kung-Fu

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 07/07/2007

“The Guy with Secret Kung Fu” is the story of two brothers, described as revolutionaries by their enemies, who clean up a town that is being terrorized by the Dragon Gang and then defeat the central government officials who want them dead. They get on the wrong side of the Dragon Gang by rescuing a young woman and her father from pirates on the river and find that these guys play for keeps. In the first attempt to kill Hong, one of the brothers, the gang uses flour bombs in an attempt to blind him then roll wooden carts piled with flaming straw at him followed by attacks by thugs using sharpened bamboo staves. He all but shrugs off this attack but it leads directly to the next one by government agents who want to arrest him. This one only succeeds when an evil judge threatens to kill the daughter of a butcher who has offended the judge and who is pleading with him to release her father. The revolutionary brothers are surrounded by enemies wherever they turn.

Hong’s brother gets him out of jail but then the two of them are captured—it isn’t clear how since the editing, possibly for a television time slot, is quite choppy here but the a visiting government dignitary decides to release them so they can rid the area of the Dragon Gang followed by their own execution. The gang is lead by a woman who, using a poison dart gun, kills those who fail her. She is backed up by a wizard with very powerful king fu and who had created a seemingly indestructible demon.

A thread of comedy runs through the movie and some of it is quite funny. It is created by the local coffin maker and his beautiful daughter. His business has been very good recently since so many of the Dragon Gang members have been killed and the coffin maker works constantly to keep up with demand, barely having the time to collect a corpse before another one is available. Hong and his brother are defeated by the demon—he throws them through the brick wall of the coffin works and the coffin maker is happy that these corpses simply showed up ready to be interred. They aren’t dead, of course, and there is immediate chemistry between one of them and the daughter. She recalls a secret book—there almost had to be a secret book since our heroes weren’t able to defeat the demon with their state-of-the-art kung fu—but rather than containing a new fighting technique this volume had a formula for killing a demon using a poison flower.

Off they go, finding the flower and grinding into a powder. The daughter tells them she doesn’t have to check the recipe because she knows it so well—a clear indication of trouble to come. And come it does when the demon shrugs off the poison and overpowers the brothers, tying them up and tossing them into a cage. The daughter realizes her mistake, consults the secret book—which had been very near at hand—and remixes the formula. Her father sneaks her into the Dragon Gang lair in a coffin, she finds the basement where they guys are locked up, dumps the poisonous powder on the demon who shrivels up and dies and gets the brothers out of the cage.

The remainder of the movie is taken up by three well choreographed and executed fights. In the first two, one of the brothers takes on the wizard while the other deals with the female gang leader who tries of use her poisonous dart gun. After some terrific individual combat all that is left before the closing credits roll is to get rid of the official from the central government. He is a very tough character indeed with almost superhuman kung fu skills but eventually the brothers prevail after an exciting and brutal looking fight. At one point Hong notices a toad—I think it helped him realize which type or school of martial arts the official was using and finally allowed them to defeat him.

While these fights were well done and fun to watch many of those that preceded them—and there are a lot of fights in “The Guy with Secret Kung Fu” were sloppy and slapdash. In scenes in which the brothers were battling groups of people the punches and kicks thrown at them by extras not only missed but missed obviously, sometimes not even coming close. This is really egregious in a martial arts movie and especially so because these amateurish looking scenes happened early on, setting a very poor tone that had to be overcome. It may have been due to poor choreography, bad camera positioning, careless editing, not enough rehearsal time plus a few other problems I can’t think of. Whatever the case, some combination of inattentiveness and lack of skill led to some very dodgy looking action.

Not recommended

Reviewer Score: 2