An all-star kung fu actioner from Chang Cheh features many of his top fighting stars of the past decade, along with talented newcomers. They appear in a convoluted and rushed, multi-plotted story of martial arts masters banding together to aid an anti-Qing rebel (Ku Feng) and the efforts of their descendants to survive a related killing spree by a pair of killers seeking revenge. The film is based on martial arts folklore originating from China’s southern Guangdong province. The “Ten Tigers” refers to ten folk heroes who lived near the end of the Qing Dynasty and were known as the region’s top martial artists. This includes Wong Kei-ying (played by Venoms Mob member Wei Pai), father to China’s most famous martial folk hero Wong Fei-hung and Beggar So Chan (played by Philip Kwok), the principle character in Yuen Woo-ping’s TRUE LEGEND. A potent ensemble cast includes Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Wang Lung-wei, the Venoms Mob, and many of Chang’s most talented new stunt actors of the period including Wang Li and Chin Siu-hou. This alone makes the film required viewing for any fan of Shaw Brothers but the addition of plentiful fighting action with a mix of open-hand and varied weapons handling makes it all the better. One of the film’s fighting highlights is a short and sweet match between Wang Li and Su Yu where Wang uses a series of hidden weapons against Su’s style which involves turning anything within reach into a weapon. There is a measure of comedy with Philip Kwok hamming it up the most as Beggar So. At one point during his street performance, a heckler calls him out for using acrobatics instead of classical southern kung fu technique. This was no doubt a poke at the Chinese opera-trained members of the Venoms Mob who relied heavily on acrobatics and stage fighting routines for their screen fighting technique regardless of what characters they played. Chang Cheh’s patented gore tops off a structurally flawed yet entertaining kung fu film with a memorable beheading.
REVIEW: Ten Tigers of Kwangtung (1980),
Alexander Fu Sheng • Chang Cheh • Chin Siu-ho • Genre: Kung Fu • Ku Feng • Philip Kwok • Ten Tigers of Kwangtung (1979) • Ti Lung • Venoms Mob • Wang Li • Wang Lung-wei • Wei Pai