Director Ng See-yuen’s follow up to his hit kung fu actioner THE SECRET RIVALS repeats the successful formula of a northern kicking expert teaming with a southern fist expert to battle a white-haired master of both. With Yuen Woo-ping directing the action of an all-star stunt team the kung fu fighting is improved while the rest of this low-budget film leaves much to be desired. Korean superkicker Hwang Jang-lee returns to play Gold Fox Chin Hu, an aged kung fu master out to avenge the death of his twin, the Silver Fox, by the hand and foot of North Leg Hsiao Yu-fei (John Liu) and South Fist Shen Ying-wei. With Ying-wei away on business in Western China, Chin Hu targets his younger brother Little South Fist Shen Ying-yu (Tino Wong). Chin Hu is also determined to get his hands on a stash of stolen silver his brother hid. All he needs is a Golden Eight Diagram pendant that reveals the silver’s location. With the pendent in Ying-yu’s possession, he recruits a rival kung fu master named Hsing Yih (Charlie Chan) to get it back which leads to a series of duels with Ying-yu. Chin Hu, fearing that his two enemies may prove too difficult to manage at once, trains two teams of four fighters to counter their leg and fist expertise. In addition, he plans to unleash a secret weapon in the form of spinning rods. Ying-yu devises a plan to trick Chin Hu into revealing his fighting style so that he and Ying-yu can come up with a method of defeating him. Eventually, both parties converge near the site of the hidden treasure to battle to the death. The plot’s main premise is sound but it’s executed horribly with confusing and unnecessary subplots, laughable dialogue (dubbed and subtitled), bad editing and characters conveniently bumping into each other in the middle of repetitive, bland outdoor settings. What saves the production is heavy doses of quality fighting action, topped off by a genuinely thrilling final match up. As the film’s bootmasters, Liu and Hwang are in top form while Tino Wong makes a competent “southern fist” replacement for Don Wong Tao who opted out of this film. Backing them up is a veritable dream team of stunt fighters that includes Corey Yuen, Hsu Hsia, Blacky Ko, Yuen Biao, Yuen Wah, and even Venoms Mob member Lu Feng. Half of these guys were competent action directors themselves and together they deliver some awesome action that sadly isn’t packaged nearly as well as it should have been by Seasonal Films. This is a martial arts film best appreciated by the genre faithful who are more likely to look past its flaws in order to soak up the amazing screen fighting talent on display.
REVIEW: Secret Rivals - Part 2, The (1977),
Corey Yuen • Genre: Kung Fu • Genre: Shapes • Hwang Jang-Lee • John Liu • The Secret Rivals - Part 2 (1977) • Tino Wong • Yuen Woo-ping