Oh my god, dude got stabbed in the TAINT!
Seriously though, this has a reputation for being one of Chang Cheh’s better films, but I did not find it terribly engaging, especially compared to an epic like Shaolin Temple or his later, more outre material. It’s an interestingly structured film about three famous heroes coming together to fight the Qing in the wake of the burning of Shaolin. Alexander Fu Sheng has the best segment as Fong Sai Yuk, in which he gets to fight on a “pile formation” – log tips surrounded by sharpened bamboo stakes.
I usually can’t stand Fu Sheng, but he’s playing straight here. Chen Kuan-Tai’s role as Hung Hei-Gun, a progenitor of Hung Ga kung fu is fine, but suffers, like all the segments, from Chang speeding through the story in favor of straight fight scenes.
One star for sexy Sabrina Siani, a mainstay of Italian Conan the Barbarian knockoffs. No stars for anything else. This story of two brothers seeking revenge with the aid of a magical Amazon tribe is otherwise an entirely dull affair, especially because the filmmakers make the bizarre choice to quickly kill off the only brother with any personality. Most of the film consists of painfully tedious slow motion shots of beefy men running, riding horses, and ineptly swinging toy swords.
I’m pretty sure this is a bowdlerized cut, because the Amazon Prime version I watched frequently seemed to be framed incorrectly, and while Siani gets naked constantly, the film awkwardly cuts away most of the time. But even if she were butt naked for the entire film (a la Fulci’s Conquest), this film would still suck donkeys.
I didn’t much care for Goodnight Mommy, but I thought it had a certain undeniable level of quality and creepiness. This? This was straight up garbage, with plot points lifted from much better movies and noisy music cues substituting for actual scares. I think I’m done with Franz and Fiala.
I hate to say it, but I think Richard Stanley would have been better off not casting Nic Cage in this. I enjoy an unhinged Cage performance as much as the next guy, but every scene he was in was at war with every other scene. Kind of reminds of King’s complaints about Nicholson in The Shining (though I’m good with that one).
That said, this is one of my favorite Lovecraft stories and I thought this was a fun adaptation. It’s very much got that early Gordon/Yuzna From Beyond vibe that I love so much. I suspect I’ll be revisiting this one.