Devil’s Treasure, The (1973) Review

"The Devil's Treasure" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Devil's Treasure" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Jeong Chang Hwa
Writer: Jeong Chang Hwa
Producer: Raymond Chow
Cast: Ko Chun Hsiung, Nora Miao Ke Hsiu, Sammo Hung Kam Bo, Lau Kar Wing, Wang In Sik, Yee Yuen, Yen Shi Kwan, Yeung Wai, Anthony Lau Wing
Running Time: 96 min.

By Jeff Bona

Wang Chun (Ko Chun Hsiung) is a professional scuba diver who is contacted by a group of shady businessmen who want to locate a mysterious chest beneath the sea. After they offer him a substantial amount of cash, he accepts the job and takes them out to the mapped location to retrieve the chest; turns out, it’s a treasure chest full of gold bars!

When the businessmen no longer need Wang Chun’s assistance, they suddenly try to kill him; but just as they’re about to have their way, a different group of men – who also want the gold – start shooting at the boat. Wang Chun uses the uninvited guests to his advantage; in the process, he outsmarts them all and makes a daring escape with the entire chest of gold in his possession.

From this point, the film continues 6 years later. Wang Chun, his wife (Nora Miao) and their daughter have settled in a luxurious ranch in South Korea. Unfortunately, Wang Chun’s past catches up with him…

Following Bruce Lee’s death, the years between 1973 and 1978 were a transitional period for Raymond Chow’s Golden Harvest film company. During this time, the company shuffled around newer and former leading men to be their next box office draw. Ko Chun Hsiung – along with Jimmy Wang Yu, Carter Wong, James Tien and Don Wong – was one of them (Jackie Chan didn’t sign with Golden Harvest until 1979’s Young Master).

The Devil’s Treasure is my first Ko Chun Hsiung flick and my initial reaction is a positive one. He doesn’t seem to have any martial arts experience, so he relies more on bashing and brawling, than swift body movements to outdo his enemies. Despite the lack of any fancy physical abilities, Ko Chun Hsiung has enough swagger to pass as an acceptable badass.

Nora Miao (Way of the Dragon), who is mostly known for being Bruce Lee’s co-star in all three of his Hong Kong movies, plays Ko Chun Hsiung’s love interest. I’ve said it many times, and I’ll say it again: she’s overwhelmingly beautiful. However, her role in this movie is one-dimensional, so other than her good looks and running aimlessly at Ko Chun Hsiung’s side, there’s not much more she has to offer.

Other notable co-stars include: Sammo Hung (The Magnificent Butcher), who has a beefy role as one of the main bad guys; Wang In Sik (Dragon Lord), who sports some groovy John Lennon sunglasses; and Tony Liu (The Dragon Missile), who has a brief cameo as a thug who attacks Ko Chun Hsiung early on in the movie. One thing that stands out is the ‘image’ they gave these bad guys. They’re all wearing black trench coats and leather jackets which raise the film’s cool retro factor.

The Devil’s Treasure is a lot of fun. As expected, there are cheesy moments and many instances that defy logic, but what do you expect? It’s a 1973 Hong Kong flick, not a Sidney Lumet movie. In terms of plot, it’s ahead of its time and I can easily see this one being remade today with very little changes in its outline.

I’ve only seen a pack of non-period, 1970’s Golden Harvest titles, but this one sports a decent budget with its explosions, car chases, boat chases and decent shoot outs. Don’t be expecting a lot of kung fu action; there is some, but the movie is first and foremost a drama/thriller, with a decent mix of action thrown in to help with the pacing.

Recommended.

Jeff Bona‘s Rating: 7/10

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