Deadly Strike | aka Wanted! Bruce Li, Dead or Alive (1978) Review

"Deadly Strike" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"Deadly Strike" Chinese Theatrical Poster

AKA: Bruce Lee’s Deadly Strike
Director: Huang Lung
Producer: Tsai Hsien
Action Director: Huang Lung
Cast: Bruce Li (aka Ho Chung Tao), Chen Sing, Tang Wei, Lung Fei, Choy Hung, Sze Chung Tien, Chu Li, Su Chin Ping, Li Min Liong, Tsang Chiu, Zheng Fu Xiong, Lee Keung
Running Time: 87 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

The opening credit sequence of Deadly Strike, which sports a Spaghetti Western-feel, hints that it’s on its way to becoming a cool themed kung fu flick. Complete with an Ennio Morricone-inspired soundtrack and visuals of a lone man walking through a ghost town filled with dusty wind, it’s totally obvious that the filmmakers are giving the kung fu genre a borrowed look from beloved Westerns. The lone man of course, is Ho Chung Tao (aka Bruce Li), dressed in traditional late-period, Chinese garb and topped with a hat to finish off the “Western” look.

As it turns out, Ho Chung Tao is the new appointed police captain that has just been assigned to the small town. Taking over the police force, which is composed of a bunch of lazy officers who do nothing but sleep and gamble; And have given up on protecting the innocent people from a group of bandits. Upon Ho Chung Tao’s arrival, he immediately sets the rules straight and states that he’s there strictly for duty; His first mission is to bring the evil bandits to justice. When he finds out that the force’s personnel is minimal and weak, he recruits a few deadly inmates (a la The Dirty Dozen) as muscle to come along with him on the dangerous mission of hunting the bad guys down.

Sound cool? Of course, bu the film is actually terrible.

The main problem with Deadly Strike are the characters that play the inmates. Basically, they’re dorky, dumb-looking and too corny to take serious. I’m aware that this is a very lame excuse to dislike a movie, but just hear me out: One guy looks like a middle-aged Filipino reject who can’t fight, another guy has an eye-patch (how cliche?) – the rest of the inmates are a bunch uninteresting annoying goons. The sad thing is, they all get a lot more screen time than Ho Chung Tao, due to their constant, unfunny antics.

Many of the bad guys encountered along the way are tacky and barely seem dangerous. For instance, Ho Chung Tao goes up against a fighting duo who fight as one (the smaller guy stands on top of the big guy). Ho Chung Tao also comes across a Shaolin school where they attack him and his men using snake-style tactics (one guy has his arms spray-painted to make them look like snakes). Some of them even slither and slide on the ground (literally).

Surprisingly, the martial arts choreography is good (generally Ho Chung Tao’s scenes). There is one scene in the whole movie that is actually very witty and well-explained. It’s the part where Ho Chung Tao explains to his men how he knew a group of merchants were actually the enemy. The film’s climax was also interesting and different.

I’ve actually heard a lot of good things about Deadly Strike prior to watching it, so maybe it’s just me.  Honestly, I’d rather see Ho Chung Tao kicking ass in modern times (well, modern times in the 1970s that is) instead of period pieces. Take a film a like Fists of Bruce Lee for instance – it’s a terrible film, but watching everyone in extreme 70’s wardrobe and other retro-cheesiness makes up for everything else that’s bad.

The bottom line: Deadly Strike is bland and overrated.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 5/10

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2 Responses to Deadly Strike | aka Wanted! Bruce Li, Dead or Alive (1978) Review

  1. acappella says:

    Hi,

    I want to ask you the musicsc name of ”Deadly Strike.” Which films of Ennio Morricone use the musics are in this film? I wonder the intro music and while Ho Chung Tao’s band were going towards the mountain. If you help me about both of the musics, i’ll be so pleased. Thanks from now on.

    Sincerely…

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