Director: Chang Cheh, John Woo
Writer: I Kuang, Chang Cheh
Producer: Run Run Shaw
Cast: David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chen Kuan Tai, Ching Li, Wang Lung Wei, Tin Ching, Cheng Miu, Wong Ching Ho, Yeung Chak Lam, Wong Kwong Yue, Fan Mei Sheng
Running Time: 118 min.
Set in the waning years of the Ching Dynasty, this dramatic, tragic, romantic, blood-soaked martial arts tale of betrayal and revenge explores one of the most sensational scandals in Chinese history.
Widely regarded as one of the finest of the early Chang Cheh films, and at least from what I’ve seen [not nearly all of ’em], this statement is certainly correct. “Blood Brothers” is an epic tale of three sworn blood brothers, friendship, honor, betrayal and revenge. It’s sort of like a kung fu version of “Bullet in the Head,” and in fact, John Woo worked as an assistant director on this one so the similarities can’t be just coincidence.
Based on the real events and characters, Ti Lung plays terrifically the power-greedy general [quite like Wise Lee in BITH], whose lust for power finally makes him murder Chen Kuan Tai [in BITH it’s Jackie Cheung], with whom wife (Ching Li) he’s also having a secret love affair. David Chiang [compare: Tony Leung] finds this out, and avenges Chen Kuan Tai’s death by finally killing Ti Lung.
The film uses efficient beautiful outdoor locations [get the widescreen version], and there’s dozens of extras in the biggest fights, making the movie look real good. Fight choreography (in courtesy of Hong Kong legend Liu Chia Liang) is pretty much the best of the era [if you don’t count Bruce Lee’s films], though many will consider it a bit slow nowadays.
Highly recommended for the fans of this older SB stuff.
Perkle’s Rating: 7/10