Having recently seen the highly-regarded "Hot, The Cool and The Vicious", then watching a bunch of so-so to awful chop sockeys, seeing Crane Fighters was a total delight.
Reviewer Score: 10
This has to be one of the very best fu films I've ever seen. The action is almost non-stop, with just enough of a break between most of the fights to catch a breath or two. The only flat spot is early on, when a matchmaker bring a real dope to meet Chia Ling. This scene contributes nothing, but at least it only lasts about 4 minutes. And what can I say about the fight scenes ? They left me gasping. In the first half, they are mostly played for laughs, which they achieve in abundance. The second half fights get more serious. This is not to detract from their quality. The standard of the styles (mostly Crane, of course !) is at least excellent throughout, and the variety of moves delivered at speed could well stand up to several repeat viewings.
I think comparisons with Hot Cool and Vicious are justified. The plot has some similarities, and the climactic fight scene uses the same visual style i.e. a long slo-mo of the final series of king hits to the villain. The difference is that Crane Fighters is superior to HCV in every department. There is far more action, the fighting is of better quality, and to say the acting is better is nearly trivial (the acting in HCV is simply awful).
A must-see for anyone who loves fu action. And probably one of the very few films I would recommend as good enough to buy, as opposed to renting.