Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Bloody Fight (Xue Dou, 1972)

Hello fight film fans!! We've got a rare one for you here at Hai! Karate: The Bloody Fight!!! This flick is from 1972 and comes from the little-known Guangming Film Company. The Bloody Fight stars Pai Ying, Tang Ching, Goo Man Chung, Alan Tang, Ingrid Hu and Pawarna Chanajit. In the director's chair for this one is Ng Tan.

THe Bloody Fight begins somewhere in the hills of Northern China. There's a Japanese fighter by the name of Chen Chang(Ying) who is going around challenging kung-fu masters and dispatching them in merciless fashion. Although that's not totally clear at first; when the film gets out of the credits sequence, you see a Japanese fighter lounging in the grass after slaying a couple of people. How do we know this? 'Cause there's bodies in the distance when he gets into it with a Thai boxer and Ka Wa(Chanajit). He turns out to be one of a group of fighters, with Chen Chang at the head of a group that also has his two lieutenants, Shen Ta Kuei and Yung Yen Nan. If you recognize these two, your eyes aren't fooling you; Ta Kuei is played by the great Chen Kuan Tai and Yen Nan is played by veteran actor Eddy Ko. They are the advance group that arrive at the school of another master. He is thengiven a death match challenge by Chen Chang. They have a spirited battle that takes them throughout the hills until Chang delivers the death blow.

Master Shi, on his deathbed, asks Shi Yang (Hu)not to seek revenge but instead to go to her uncle, another kung fu master by the name of Master Shi(Cheung). Master Shi is hard at work training visiting Thai boxers, one of whom fought earlier in the first scenes. Shi gets a visit from Chen Chang along with Ta Kuei and Yen Nang and they immediately challenge the Thai boxers. This fight comes to the attention of Chen Wa(Tang) who gets taken away from an arm-wrestling match(yeah you read that right)with a local drunkard, Chi San Hau(Ching). San Hau and others go to watch the match. In short order, the Thai boxers get lumped up and one gets his head cracked like an egg in brutal form. Chang and Shi take their fight off the school grounds. BAD MOVE. 'Cause Chang gets wild with kick after kick, until that final snap collision in air.

Master Shi lies unconscious, and the beating he takes stirs something in San Hau. See, Chi San Hau behind all that drunkenness is in fact a highly skilled boxer. He challenges the Japanese in his local tavern. They take him up on it and fight in the mountains. San Hau takes out Ta Kuei but gets snuffed by Chang when he goes through a dizzy spell. Meanwhile, Ka Wa's brother dies and Master Shi awakens. Chen Wa, his son, vows with him that the Japanese will never take over. They then set a plan of action with Shi Yang, Ka Wa and Chen Wa training to defeat Chang and the other Japanese fighters.

Shi Yang has something else on her mind. She keeps thinking about her father throwing out another prized pupil of his years earlier. One guess who that is. And so, she sets out to find him during their training for the ultimate bloody fight to stop the Japanese oppression once and for all!!

The Bloody Fight DOES live up to its name, if only towards the end. Overall, the film is regarded as an old-school classic. It's not a stinker, but it's also not fantastic as the Crash Masters release info would have you believe. For one thing, the movie starts out a bit jumbled. Ka Wa and her brother just get into the fray without no lead-in convo outside of a few words. Now, there is a theory out there that this film was made in response to the overwhelming success of the Bruce Lee flick Fist of Fury, released not only the same year, but no less than THREE WEEKS before this film was released. I can see that for a couple of reasons. One being that the Guangming Film Company was tiny at best and wanted to make some waves. This would explain why this was their next to last film ever made. Out of TEN films total. It's also interesting in how this film brought together talent both on the rise and established from Shaw Studios. Tang Ching was a couple of years removed from his matinee idol status with Shaw in doing this picture. Chen Kuan Tai was on the verge of breaking out as one of their major bankable stars of the 1970's. And Goo Man Cheung had done many films with Shaw.(Side note: Cheung would follow this picture up with his turn in the iconic King Boxer. That film was released TWO weeks later than this one.)Lastly, the anti-Japanese sentiment was rising as a theme in Hong Kong cinema more openly now. Never mind that Japanese stars were filming there and vice versa. Pai Ying does okay here as the snarling and cool villain. Alan Tang in a team-up with Tang Ching is also a bit of foreshadowing that I Kuang and Shaw Studios would observe and implement in at least one of their later flicks in terms of style. As for Ingrid Hu, her fighting is adequate. It's good to note that she and Parwarna get a good deal of mixed screen time especially on the action tip. For Parwarna it's also interesting that this is a heavy action role for her; she was more of a vivacious and beautiful lead acting figure as we featured in another post here. That said, she does get her share of lumps. The fight scenes are crisp even when they're sprawling all over the set. They make up for a choppy plot. If you want to catch the classic in some downtime, The Bloody Fight is available online and in DVD but you'll have to hunt for it.


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