Friday, August 20, 2010

Six Assassins with Ling Yun

This short (80 minutes) film from Valley of The Fangs director Jeong Chang Hwa is a serviceable action film if you want a quick fix.

Six Assassins (1971) opens in the Tang Dynasty. Narration reveals the emperor's brother as Lord Zhen-guo Li Ming, a ruler who exploits the people.

There's a lot of confusing court intrigue-type stuff before Ling Yun shows up. He's too busy serenading women on his houseboat in the middle of the river -- yes, we are treated to a song. But Brother Mu is needed in the court even though people are out to get him as he's next in line to the throne. Or something.

As Brother Mu is being entreated back to the palace, he quickly dispatches three assassins hiding in the trees near his houseboat. The scene is very well done for this sort of thing and you almost forget that the guy was singing like Frankie Avalon only seconds earlier.

There's more court stuff and then Brother Mu gathers together his five assassins -- he's the sixth -- and the title group is now complete and on their way to assassinate the bad guy.

One of the guys can't keep his cool and goes off on his own mission and gets captured and tortured. Brother Mu's wife gets murdered and then the real swordplay begins.

I've seen a lot of the Shaws' wuxia stuff from this era and I've got to say that the scenes in Six Assassins are very well done. There seems to be a bit more flying around than was normal for this era but, on the whole, every action scene is exciting and well staged and not overlong or ridiculous.

The only complaint I can make is that the very final duel scene takes place on a set that must have been used in two dozen Shaw features. Additionally, while Lily Li is in this film, she only gets one fight scene in the final four minutes.

Still, Six Assassins is fun and exciting and doesn't waste a lot of time. I watched it on VCD but I liked it enough to want to try to find the DVD if I can.

The DVD is out-of-print but you can order Six Assassins on VCD here.