AKA: Seven Man Army
Director: Chang Cheh
Writer: Ni Kuang
Cast: David Chiang, Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Gordon Liu, Chen Kuan Tai, Lee I Min, Chi Kuan Chun, Pai Ying, Ting Wa Chung, Leung Kar-Yan, Johnny Wang, Miu Tin, Fung Ngai, Chen Ming Li, Wong Ging Ping, Chan Wai Lau
Running Time: 114 min.
By Mighty Peking Man
7-Man Army tells the story of seven Chinese soldiers (Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Chen Kuan-Tai, David Chiang and… sorry, I can’t name the other three) who defend a fortress against thousands of Japanese troops and Mongolian mercenaries (led by Leung Kar-Yan, Gordon Liu and Wang Lung-Wei). The film is set in 1933, during Japan’s initial occupation of China.
Though not as Americanized as Boxer Rebellion, 7-Man Army is still a very much a high budget, epic-like, polished production. It features hundreds of extras, big explosions, and even actual fighter planes dropping bombs.
7-Man Army is obviously a war movie, but don’t let the word ‘war’ fool you. Sure, it has the gun-battles, military jive and typical war film scenarios; but it equally qualifies as a good ol’ Shaw Brothers kung fu flick. In a way, it’s kind of funny – during many instances, hand-to-hand combat is the primary weapon of choice for the soliders; and if it’s not with their bare hands (or feet), they’ll still prefer to use their bayonets instead of just shooting the damn rifle – as silly as it sounds, it’s acceptable because it’s Chang Cheh.
Sporadically throughout, each of the seven men have their own little flashback segment (a la Bruce Lee, John Saxon and Jim Kelly in Enter The Dragon), explaining why they each joined the army. These mini stories help break up the war-setting a bit, making the film’s pace even better.
The finale packs one hell of a punch and if you’re familiar with most of Chang Cheh’s work, it should come to no surprise that 7-Man Army ends with a great dose of heroic bloodshed. Let’s just say that Willem Dafoe’s death scene in Platoon ain’t got nothing on this…
Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 7/10