The Avenging Eagle (1978)

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 02/04/2007
Summary: Worthy

The Iron Boat gang are a bunch of savage thugs who murder and steal without pity. The leader, Yoh Xi Hung (Ku Feng) has raised thirteen lieutenants or “Eagles” from childhood who all share a passion for ruthlessness. Over time, one Eagle by the name of Chik Ming Sing (Ti Lung) slowly develops a conscience and goes on the run. The remaining Eagles will do everything to return their brother back to the fold, but Chik, along with a wandering figure known only as “The Homeless” (Fu Sheng) decide to take the fight to the enemy, and storm the Iron Boat gang’s fortress.

The AVENGING EAGLE has a few nice touches and has a pretty solid storyline, to boot. In particular, the movie is directed with flair and a touch of grandeur.

You know there’s something funny going on with the relationship between Ti Lung’s Eagle and Fu Sheng’s Homeless character, but it’s not signposted right from the word go, and comes as a bit of a surprise about halfway through when you realise what’s going on. It’s genuinely quite gripping and maintained my interest throughout, wondering how it was all going to play out in the end.

Ti Lung sports a rather nifty three-sectioned staff all through this film, which can be unscrewed in the middle to make two one-and-a-half-sectioned staffs. I swear I’ve seen this device used in another film, but I can’t for the life of me remember what it was right now. As for Fu Sheng’s means of dispatching his enemies – well, that would be telling.

A worthy film.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: dandan
Date: 11/29/2006
Summary: nice staff...

chik ming sing (ti lung), is one of the thirteen eagles; a gang, raised by yoh xi hung (ku feng) to be ruthless killers. chik becomes disillusioned with his life, but finds leaving the eagles is harder than he thought. along his way, chik meets cheuk yi fan (fu sheng), a wandering loner, who joins him in his fight against his former gang...

the story is pretty simple, but they manage to cram quite a bit of character development into the 84 minutes, considering that most of it appears to be fighting. ti lung puts in the standout performance for me; fu sheng, is okay, but ti lung and chik are just cooler than fu sheng and cheuk.

the action sequences are pretty cool, especially if you're a fan of weapon work. there's some very nicely executed, complex sequences, and a few nice stylistic touches thrown in during the editing.

good stuff.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 12/12/2005
Summary: Excellent movie

I have long been aware of the fans' warm regards for Avenging Eagle. Unfortunately when I first saw it, the print wasn't in good shape, and it was dubbed. Now that I have seen it remastered (by the way, is it just me or does this particular DVD seem to have better quality than most others from IVL?), I can say that it stands out as one of the best martial arts offerings from Shaw Brothers, and it made me a more avid admirer of director Sun Chung. His JUDGEMENT OF AN ASSASSIN and HUMAN LANTERN have already won my fandom, and Avenging Eagle simply confirmed his unique filmmaking qualities. His camera movements are the most elegant, and sometimes take bold paths we don't expect, which adds a layer of technical depth that most SB films overlook.

As if there were really any doubt, Ku Feng really steals the show this time. His profound performances always add an extra dimension to the characters, whether villain or hero or in-between. Never have I seen another actor out of the Shaw studio with such distinctive versatility and class. He grasps the essence of his characters to perfection, whereas his fellow colleagues often betray their characters with carelessness. I always thought that some of the stars like Ti Lung and the Venoms put on too many paycheck performances, as if sleepwalking on the set (same old characters, same old dialogue, same old action). But let me put it this way: Anyone in the hands of Sun Chung is probably in good hands, and Ku Feng's 13 cold blooded eagle master here may be his finest performance to date.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Michael Kistner
Date: 08/22/2005
Summary: 4.5/5

One of my favourite movies. I loved the movie the first time I watched the cut German tape and I love the movie now at the new release.
Great actors and fight scenes. Very good direction with some great slow motion scenes.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 06/18/2005
Summary: Average

There is a major plot line is this movie but it is easy to guess. Ti lung once again teams with Alexander Fu to make a slightly better than average SB movie. The action, nothing new.
Ti lungs character is the focus and really the only one with any depth in it!!


Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 05/27/2005

In The Avenging Eagle, Ti Lung plays a man who has been trained since he was a small child to be a cold-hearted thief and killer, and he is quite good at his profession. However, after a robbery attempt when he is wounded and nursed back to health by a friendly family, Ti realizes the error of his ways -- but not before his fellow "troops" (known as "The Eagles") slaughter the family. Vowing revenge, Ti sets out to kill the remaining Eagles and their master (played by Shaw veteran Guk Fung). Along the way, he meets up with a mysterious swordsman (Alexander Fu Sheng) who seems willing to help Ti, but appears to have an agenda of his own. Can the two tenuous friends stay together long enough to bring down the evil sifu?

The Avenging Eagle was Shaw Brothers mainstay Sun Chung's first big hit, and it is widely regarded as his best film. Unfortunately for western viewers, the home video versions that have come out over the years through gray-market companies like Ground Zero have been half-ass to say the least. Sun was known for being one of the more visually inventive directors in the Shaw stable, but his cinematic techniques have been obscured by previous releases, which had horrible pan-and-scanning and/or flaccid center framing. Thankfully, Celestial's re-release remedies this. Sun does try a bit too hard in parts to give this film some added visual flair (such as some poor use of slow-motion), but The Avenging Eagle, in its' new nearly-pristine state, does show how much of a "renegade" Sun was within the tight constraints of the Shaw Brothers' notoriously strict studio system.

As for the rest of the film, the story as a whole isn't that special -- your standard kung fu revenge stuff is on display here. But there are a couple of nice twists, especially at the end, which features a classic Hong Kong tragic ending. There are also a ton of fights displayed; there's rarely time for the viewer to catch their breath before the next brawl begins. Unfortunately, the action sequences fall a bit flat -- there's lots of obvious doubling -- but things are bolstered with the way each of the characters has a unique martial arts technique and weapon; I especially dug Fu Sheng's wrist blades. Combined with some solid performances from the leads (Fu Sheng and Ti Lung -- who won an Asian Film Award for his work here -- have some great chemistry together), The Avenging Eagle ends up being a very solid old-school kung fu picture that fans of the genre will enjoy.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewed by: TheManInWhite
Date: 11/04/2004
Summary: The total package

A man is on the run from his former outlaw clan. With unexpected help from a traveling stranger, they take on waves of bandits which include career villain Wang Lung Wei, Eddy Ko and Dick Wei.

One of the best and original storylines that I've ever seen. More than enough hand to hand/weapons action for the casual and diehard fans. Brilliant performances by Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng and character actor vet Ku Feng as the leader of the clan. Has all the elements one looks for in a classic kung fu film. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 04/28/2002

In this typical late 70s Shaw Brothers production, Ti Lung tries to avoid further slaughtering of others, but his master would not let him. Ti Lung eventually teams up with Fu Sheng to defeat the evil master. Sounds familiar? It's a nice little formula, if a little overused. If only the English dub wasn't so horrible, I might actually have liked this movie as much as others did. The fight scenes are so-so, and the story could have been much better. Plus, the grand suspense was a no-brainer; anyone could have predicted Fu Sheng's identity. All in all, this is a decent kung fu movie, and I will probably watch it again someday.


Reviewed by: jean yves
Date: 11/11/2001
Summary: One of the best of Shaw Brothers

I didn't know Ti Lung had won an award for his performance in this movie, but it doesn't surprise me---this movie is very powerful. Along with Shaolin Master Killer (36th Chamber of Shaolin), this is probably one of the few old-school kung fu movies that really transcends its genre to be just a great movie, period. This is masterful storytelling, great acting, very well choreographed fights, and a completely classic plot. I'm a big Shaw Brothers fan, but I will admit a lot of their movies are memorable just for the great kung fu scenes---Avenging Eagle, however, really brings you into the plot on an emotional level---you really care about these characters. A little bit like Kurosawa's Rashomon, you get the perspective of a horrible crime from different angles, and you realize the situation is complex---but in the end, there is an ultimate choice between right and wrong.

Also, some really clever camera work and cinematography from the director---cool use of slow-motion. A really fantastic movie, and let's just hope someday we can see a restored, widescreen version of this action masterpiece.

Reviewed by: rzach
Date: 07/19/2001
Summary: Best actor deserves the best award

It seemed the formula of uniting Ti Lung and Fhu Shen in any possible characters has indeed created an outstanding movie. In this movie you will came in a situation to think very deeply which one is the hero and the villain. It is not surprise that at the end this movie has given Ti Lung his first best Asia actor at the Asian Festival in 1979.

Reviewed by: GlennS
Date: 04/08/2001
Summary: Classic

Classic Shaw Brothers tale about a man (Ti Lung) on the lam from a gang of thieves run by a ruthless tyrant who raised the members of the gang with cruelty since they were young boys. Ti Lung was a prominent member of the gang until he experienced love and caring from a family who nursed him from injuries suffered after being wounded in a heist. Running away from the tyrant and his gang, Ti Lung encounters a young government offical (Alexander Fu Sheng). After a lot of chit-chat and male bonding, the two decide to head back to the gang's stronghold to exact revenge for Ti Lung for years of hardship, encountering wave after wave of members of the gang on the way. But at this point we don't know why Fu Sheng is so insistent on helping Ti Lung.

Well paced with good action and an excellent storyline. The ending is very emotional and will soften the hardest of hearts.


Reviewer Score: 9