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Es (1977)
The Hero Tattoo with Nine Dragons

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 04/19/2003
Summary: Punchy

The English title is poorly chosen. Yes, the title character is tattooed with nine dragons (though for reasons not explained), but he's no hero. He's just a hotheaded, rude and violent young man who loves punching people.

The first ten minutes or so are pretty dull and rather annoying, as they follow Ta Lung as a kid always in trouble. Things improve when he grows up and leaves home, and there's plenty of fisticuffs as Ta Lung shows off his wild home-made style.

The main problem with this film is that, like many of Chen Kuan Tai's characters, the lead character is not likeable, and is not awful enough to be an anti-hero. Chen's a terrific fighter, but he's no great actor.

His family are killed in a revenge attack, and Ta Lung does become a bit more human, but not necessarily more likeable.

Fans of Chia Ling will have to wait awhile, as it is 55 minutes before she appears. In a weird episode, Ta Lung wanders into an inn where a fight has broken out between a bully monk and the owners of an inn (Chia's character and her husband). Having finished the fight, the formerly bad-tempered monk becomes good friends with all of them, and they set out to help Ta Lung avenge the death of his family.

This movie is enjoyable for the wealth of fu talent and relatively high production values, not for the at-best-ordinary acting or silly story.

Reviewer Score: 7