Ten Tigers of Kwangtung (1979)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2006-12-10
Summary: Tons of talent but average results...
Ten Tigers of Kawntung is a star-studded martial arts drama about the forming of the historical group of rebels during the Ching (Qing) dynasty. The movie starts with the son of a murdered general seeking revenge on the offspring and disciples of the Ten Tigers, but shifts with flashbacks to the story of how the group came together. When a rebel leader (Ku Feng) is pursued in the Kwantung province, a local pawnshop owner (Ti Lung) and his friend Tam Ming (Alexander Fu Sheng) decide to shelter him, but soon realize that they need to recruit other martial arts masters to their cause. Soon there are six in the group, but a rival pawn shop owner senses something fishy is going on and goes to the authorities. He also hires four masters who have arrived in town, including the famous Beggar Su (Phillip Kwok), and convinces them that the six are criminals that have to be brought to justice. Eventually the four learn of the deceit and join with the six, creating the Ten Tigers. Flashing back to the present, the son of the murdered Ching general (Chan Shu-Kei) and a Ching officer (Wong Lik) are still in pursuit of the ten and decide to kill their relatives, drawing the ten into the open. As expected, a Chang Cheh bloodfest ensues.
If it weren't for the cast and the director, this would probably be another run-of-the-mill revenge-oriented kung fu flick. However, because of the wealth of talent on screen, the film gets raised to a slightly higher level. The five venoms are together again and all are fun to watch as usual. The ten tigers themselves are a who's who in 70s Shaw Brothers stable, including Ti Lung, Lo Meng, Lu Feng, Chiang Sheng and Sun Chien. The fight choreography is a bit weak, with some slow and calculated looking moves, but there are a couple of real winners, including the battle between Wong Lik and Siao Yuk in which Siao uses everything in a restaurant to defend himself against Wong and a bevy of exotic weapons, including a 7-ring whip and a sword belt. There is also the strangest weapon I've ever seen used in a movie when Johnny Wang battles Ti Lung with what seems to be a gold mermaid statue. It's hard to even describe and has to be seen to be believed. The Chang Cheh brutality is also in full effect here with death by the most excruciating and bloody means, which always lends to the excitement. Overall though, the story is a bit muddled and the amount of characters starts to get confusing. This, along with some pretty shoddy set work lends to a feeling of cheapness to the film, which is a shame considering the talent involved. Recommended, but not whole heartedly.

Reviewer Score: 7