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江湖行 (1973)
River of Fury

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 10/12/2006

Considering that this movie has Danny Lee in his first starring role with two Yuens handling the action, and it's called River of Fury, you might think this would be some form of the old-school ass-beating most people know Shaw Brothers films for. Well, the Shaws produced films in just about every genre, with one of the more popular being the "weepies" -- highly melodramatic pieces that force old ladies and little girls to get out the hankies, while pretty much everyone else cries out of boredom. Unfortunately, River of Fury falls into that category, plus there's also a heavy dose of Peking Opera performances, which are about as exciting as a John Tesh concert, but without so many fancy lights.

The story? Oh, yeah, well, Danny plays a coutry bumpkin who wants to see the world, so he joins up with a boat captain (Ku Feng), who is transporting a opera troupe which stars Lily Ho. Danny and Lily fall in love, but her greedy mother (Ouyang Shafei) wants a huge dowry, so Danny is forced to resort to smuggling guns and opium. While Danny is away for a week, Lily is wooed away by a rich man (Tin Ching) and promptly dumps Danny. And if things couldn't get any worse, Ku Feng drops the dime on him, so Danny gets sent to the jug. Will he get revenge? Or just sit around and look constipated?

River of Fury's main problem is that it's hard to develop any sort of feelings for the characters, which is vital in a drama like this. Danny comes off as a simpleton and a whiner, while Lily is just a straight-up bitch. Ku Feng livens things up a bit, but he's not around enough to make a real impact. The director tries to liven things up with a couple of fight sequences, but they feel tacked-on -- they're sloppily executed and poorly edited.

By the time the movie ended, I really didn't care what happened to any of the characters. Thankfully, River of Fury only clocks in at about eighty minutes (even when padded with several opera scenes), so I didn't feel like I totally wasted my time. This one's really for Danny Lee die-hards only, who want to check out his humble beginnings in the Hong Kong movie industry. Even then, don't get your hopes up.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 4

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 12/12/2005
Summary: Worth watching

River of Fury started off with one of the most contrived facial expressions in the history of Shaw Brothers, by a young Danny Lee. Fortunately, it moved on to include better things, like Ku Feng and Lily Ho. Moral of the story: Stay low key; don't go for glamour, which is just an illusion with tons of ugliness behind it.

If nothing else, this is your one chance to see Ku Feng without clothes on. He is actually more buff than I imagined, considering his good share of old white-haired villain roles. This is one of the few modern day movies that I have seen him in. As if there's any doubt, Ku Feng basically steals the show, although Lily Ho is awfully cute before her character turned to the dark side.

Reviewer Score: 6