Sunday, September 28, 2014

Movie Review: To Kill With Intrigue

To Kill With Intrigue (Jian hua yan yu Jiang Nan) 
Starring: Jackie Chan, Hsu Feng, Sin Il-Ryong, Yu Ling-Lung, George Wang Jue, Tung Lam, Ma Kei, Kong Ching-Ha 
Director: Wei Lo 
Lo Wei Motion Pictures, Hong Kong, South Korea, 1977.

This is an early Jackie Chan movie, the review is based on English dubbed version from Jackie Chan Early Collection 6-movie box set published by Pan Vision Finland. (The films are of VHS quality, but it is not easy get better versions with original Cantonese soundtracks).

Lots of spoilers here!

Lord of the Lei-palace (Ma Kei) celebrates his 60th birthday. Chamber-maid Chin Chin (Yu Ling-Lung) goes to meet her lover Hsiao Lei (Jackie Chan) but Hsiao Lei is rude and drives her away. Then Hsiao Lei goes to the party and drives the guests away. Hsiao Lei does this because he knows that Killer Bee bandits are about to attack (a message was sent with a severed hand). Lord Lei killed most of the Killer Bee clan members years ago. The family decides to fight to the death. They get also some help from their friends. 
Ma Kei
Lord Lei celebrating his birthday
Then some guests stumble inside stabbed with Killer Bee daggers. Then some hopping maniac comes to claim his hand. Then some coffins appear and guys with flower masks jump out! Flying Chinese lanterns and guys with burning sticks appear. Female fighter Ting Chan Yen (Hsu Feng) is their leader. The Lei family are killed and Hsiao Lei is knocked unconscious. Hsiao wakes and fights with Ting. Ting says that lord Lei was a murderer and knocks out Hsien again.
Stabbed with a cute dagger
Lei clan prepares to fight
Birthday flowers appear
Chin Chin is harassed by bandits. Hsien's friend Chen Chun (Sin Il-Ryong) saves her. Meanwhile Ting is nursing Hsien who mistakes her for Chin Chin. Ting cries and leaves, she is obviously falling in love with Hsien. Meanwhile Chin Chin remembers the good old times.
Hsu Feng
Ting Chan Yen (Hsu Feng)
Yu Ling-Lung
Chin Chin playing zither
Remembering old happy times

Then three assassins get in and fight Hsien. One of the killers is wielding feather-dusters (I'm not making this up). Hsien gets another head-ache, this time from sleeping gas. Then the assassins are told that they knocked out the wrong guy. Their contractor does not allow them to kill Hsien and fights the assassins. The contractor is the master of the Dragon Escort who is after Chen Chun who stole gold. Hsien joins the Dragon Escort team. 
Bloody Rain assassins
Feather-duster guy
The gold shipment is attacked by an old man and the gang wielding silly weapons. Including the feather-duster guy and a dude with a huge mace. Oh, and there is a painted face on the mace. Hsien defends the Dragon Escort while the rest of the Dragon Escort guys just relax and enjoy the show. The old guy has a lethal umbrella. Hsien gets as lethal stab-wound but Ting comes to fight the bandits. The Dragons try to figure a way to heal Hsien. Then Ting comes disguised (she has a different colour veil now) and takes Hsien with her. 
Another weird-looking guy
Mace with a face
The Dragon Escort master believes the Governor will kill him for failing to catch Chen Chun. And he is right. But wait! The governor is Chen Chun. And He is also the leader of Bloody Rain gang! He must be a super-busy guy! He then goes to marry Chin Chin. Meanwhile Ting's herbs have healed Hsiao but he has lost his will to live. Ting will not let Hsien leave until he can beat her in a fight. Every time he loses he gets a painful punishment. To gain her skills, Hsien must drink a potion containing Ting's blood. Scarred Hsien goes to stop the wedding of Chin Chin and Chen Chun.
Sin Il-Ryong
Chen Chun
This is a weird Wuxia movie. The story is messy. It mixes ghost story with operatic drama, Wuxia action and sadomasochistic romance. While meant to be serious, the movie has a lot of unintentional humour. The weapons are some of the weirdest in martial arts movies. Fight choreographies are okay with plenty of wire jumping. Jackie is an impersonal hero here. Still the pure weirdness makes it entertaining to watch. 

Rating: So bad it is good

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