A Massacre Survivor (1979)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2010-03-17
Summary: Yuens strike again...
Jo-hsueh (Shih Szu) and her father Kao Chien-jen live a relatively quite life at their estate. When an old friend of Chien-jen, Ling Yi-hung (Lung Fei) comes to visit, they spend the entire night engaged in a fiery discussion that is secret to all. In the morning, Yi-hung leaves, but warns Chien-jen that his decision could cost him dearly. Chien-jen tells everyone to quickly leave the estate and hide in the mountains until things can be resolved, but Yi-hung and his troops attack almost immediately. Only Jo-hsueh and her father's two best men escape, but after subsequent attacks she is left to defend herself. Found desperately exhausted, she is cared for by a Prince (Chung Wa) and his right-hand man (Wong Chung), but trusting no one, she quickly rebuffs their kindness once recovered. Heeding her father's words of advice, she travels to the Hu Hsiao Temple to learn kung fu from the masters there. Through their intense training, she learns the crane style and sets out to avenge her father's death. When her paths cross again with the Prince, it becomes apparent that there is much more at stake then originally believed.

Up until this point, A Massacre Survivor was quite a rare film, and it's a shame that it has remained out of sight for decades. With action choreography by Yuen siblings Corey and Cheung-Yan, it has all the trademarks of the family's style, with inventive and excellent training sequences, beautifully choreographed fight scenes and the use of exotic weapons with great names like the "Rings of Death." The introduction to the story sets the tone well, it is foreboding from the start and only gets more and more dark as Jo-hsueh slashes her way through attackers. She is completely without remorse and is singularly focused on the destruction of her father's killer. She has no time for friends or mercy. In this regard Shih Szu does an excellent job. Her fighting is quite good as well, with strong legwork and flexibility. Mainstays Lung Fei and Chung Wa are stable and strong as always in their supporting roles. Lung Fei is especially exciting when brandishing his metal tonfa. Wong Ching also manages to get in the mix with a staff that features a giant, retractable hand attached to a chain. However, the one actor that really stood out in terms of pure martial arts ability was Wong Chung. He is fast, accurate and very powerful in all his fights. The choreography really seemed to match his style and he disposes of opponents in a variety of exciting scenes.
There is no beating around the bush in this film. It's a brisk hour and a half and barely lets up in terms of action or significant plot builders. Although a somewhat derivative revenge plot, the acting and fights are top notch and are able to raise the film to a much higher level. Another win for the Yuen Clan in all respects.

Reviewer Score: 9