Dance of Death (1979)
Reviewed by: kiliansabre on 2007-11-27
Summary: A very silly martial arts comedy
A young man (played by Angela Mao) tricks two equally matched kung fu masters who duel every five years into teaching her both their styles so she can take revenge against a vicious gang that killed her friends. The teachers stand by during his fights and count the number of moves that he uses to defeat his enemies so they can prove which of them is the superior. I would expand more on the plot of the movie, but that is pretty much literally what it is.

This movie plays out in a string of fights that are initially played heavily for mostly poor comedy involving the styles being used. Dean Shek for example breaks out something he calls seagull style at one point which was really just more silly than anything interesting. The earlier fights in the movie actually seem a bit too rehearsed, like they are literally moving their arms and legs from point A to point B, but as the movie progresses so does the fluidity. I originally got a hold of this because of Jackie Chan's hand in the choreography (though I didn't see him listed in the credits, might have been under a pseudo-name) and I suppose it does show a bit. The fights towards the end when they incorporate a feminine style are a pretty nice slice of choreography.

I did think the plot was a bit dull. Angela Mao's character was never really developed and was more of just a plot device than anything of substance. Also it was a bit annoying after a while to hear the old masters doing the same 'counting the moves joke' in every single fight. I think my favorite part was near the end when the female fighting forms come into play, and although her character was meant to be a man, the mannerisms of the styles were nicely accentuated by her natural grace and beauty.
Reviewer Score: 7