The title says it all: in a northern town, circa 1930, Peking Opera actor Guan Yulou (Ti) is murdered by a cabal of local power brokers and his dour younger brother Xiaolou (Chiang) arrives to pick off the baddies one by one. But the lack of narrative twists matters less than the noir scheme of things: pretty much everyone is seriously flawed, the brooding Xiaolou is not a conventionally pure hero (even when he dons a white suit for the climactic bloodbath), and two big action set pieces take place at night. The crude melodramatics are partly offset by the smart idea (24 years before Farewell My Concubine) of cross-cutting between an acted death on stage and a real assassination. It was the first of Chang’s paeans to macho values to co-star Chiang and Ti (together only in brief flashbacks); the cast includes many soon-to-be-famous faces and torsos. —Timeout Review
Chang Cheh (traditional Chinese: 張徹; simplified Chinese: 张彻; pinyin: Zhāng Chè) (February 10, 1923 – June 22, 2002) was Shaw Brothers Studio’s best known and most prolific film director, with such films as the Five Venoms, the Brave Archer (based on the works of Jin Yong), the One-Armed Swordsman, and other classics of wuxia and Kung Fu film.
Referred to as “The Godfather of Hong Kong cinema”, Chang Cheh directed over 100 films in his illustrious career at Shaw Brothers, which ran the gamut from swordplay films (One-Armed Swordsman, The Assassin, Golden Swallow) to kung fu films (Five Shaolin Masters, Five Venoms, Kid with the Golden Arms) to more modern period dramas (Chinatown Kid, Boxer From Shantung, The Generation Gap) to lavish costume epics (The Water Margin, The Heroic Ones, Boxer Rebellion).
After graduating from National Central University ( (later renamed Nanjing University in Nanjing and reinstated in Taiwan) in Chongqing (Chungking), where he studied politics… read more