Bells of Death, The (1968) Review

"The Bells of Death" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Bells of Death" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Griffin Yueh Feng
Cast: Chin Ping, Chang Yi, Chiu Sam Yin (Chao Hsin Yen), Lam Kau (Lin Chia), Tien Sheng, Guk Fung (Ku Feng), Paul Chun Pui, Yeung Chi Hing, Wu Ma
Running Time: 84 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

Bells of Death is the story of Wei (Chang Yi) , a young man who seeks revenge on the three bandits responsible for slaughtering his family and kidnapping his sister. Armed with his blood-thirsty sword and a bracelet of tiny bells – which symbolizes his murdered mother – Wei is an unstoppable, tortured soul and he will not rest until he gets a chance to piss on their graves.

Bells of Death is a revenge movie that doesn’t waste any time getting to the ‘revenge’ part. They even skip the whole ‘kung fu training session’ and leave it to your imagination. Throughout the movie, I was waiting for the training scene to kick in via-flashback mode, but it never came; In a way, not having the scene was strange, but once the rest of the film got going, it really didn’t matter.

For a movie made in 1968, Bells of Death feels more like something that was made in the late 1970s. That whole jolty camera style of the 60’s era Shaw flicks is absent; instead we get more of Westernized approach, which is restrained in comparison.

The tone of the film is very grizzly and dark. The costumes, set designs and backgrounds are mostly neutral in color. Even when someone is wearing red, it appears to be darkened, with very little contrast. The tone also applies to the gloomy soundtrack, which becomes haunting at times (like most Shaw flicks, a good portion of the film’s soundtrack was probably borrowed from Western films).

Bells of Death has a good amount of satisfying action. If you like blood and gore, it’ll put a smile on your face. There are a couple of scenes where sliced heads and limbs fall to the ground – and they show it!

Bells of Death gets the award for having the freakiest kung fu villain of all time, thanks to that stubby guy with a huge prosthetic nose and beard. As he attacks his victims, he does this eerie, horizontal head shake – and you can hear the cracks his neck makes when he does it. I think most people find it goofy, but it freaks me out for some reason.

Highly recommended.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 8/10

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