Snake Crane Secret (1978)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-08-12
Snake Crane Secret is a terrible movie. It has a couple of saving graces but generally is just bad. It begins with some reasonably well done flashbacks that show the background of the current situation. There is some treachery, some decent fighting and the sudden appearance of a monk to save the day--or at least saves the lives of the protagonists when they were children. The next acceptable scene features Fang Fang, showing some kung fu and spear moves to a not very enthusiastic audience—she really sells the moves. I know that the Shaw Brothers studio had training courses for actors and actresses in fighting for the camera. They didn’t learn kung fu as such but how not look ridiculous when imitating it on film. She was able to wield her spear, the short staff and a few other weapons without embarrassing herself during fights.

Elsa Yeung Wai San was a different story. Perhaps she was having a bad couple of weeks, but she always looked out of place during the fights. Her work with the jointed staff reminded me of a housewife with a flyswatter. A fight with Elsa and Fang taking on a bunch of bad guys is one of the dullest I have ever seen.

Mang Fei as Erh Lang was an almost totally unlikable protagonist. His ambition was to kill a Ching Dynasty official who had killed his (Lang’s) father but he came across as petulant and spoiled. And Yu Tien Lung as the Ching official was an extremely bland bad guy. Until the end of the movie he was simply an ambitious local bureaucrat looking for promotion. In the last reel, however, he became a kung fu master. It took Erh Lang, his brother Hang Kuei (Tung Li) and their uncle Shao Ting San (Dean Shek) to defeat Yu and he was still able to injure Erh Lang and kill Hang Kuei. He went from a petty timeserver to a martial arts killer in the blink of an eye.

The reunion between the brothers who had been separated for 20 years was lame--it was as emotional as if one of them was returing from lunch.

Not recommended.
Reviewer Score: 1