The Bravest Revenge

The Bravest Revenge
Director: Chien Lung
Year: 1970
Duration: 89 minutes

The Bravest Revenge begins with action and from that point on only pauses occasionally for some terse dialogue and minimal plot development before the next action set piece kicks in. Director Lung seems to go by the well-honed film theory that if the actors aren’t moving and someone isn’t being killed you are just wasting your audience’s time. It was certainly alright with me as I hadn’t seen a wuxia in a while and this felt pretty good. Lung is also a big proponent of the zoom, often for no particular purpose that can be discerned. In an interview, Eric Tsang said of his first directorial outings that using zoom shots back then was considered the sign of a knowledgeable director but admits it looks terrible now. Yes, they do. Yet this is only an amusing distraction in a field of death.

Chau Mutien (Yee Yuen) has escaped from prison and is up to his old tricks again of ravaging the countryside. Brother Hsih (Ma Kei) who captured Chau the first time is brought out of retirement to bring him down again, but Chau has been practicing for this moment and with his powerful sword he is able to slay Hsih in front of his four children – three sons and one daughter. He considers killing them as well but lets them live and tells them to come back in five years when they are ready to fight him. Big mistake. The four (Chan Bo-leung, Sit Hon, Man Chung-san and Polly Shang-kwan) each trains with a different master for the requisite period of time and they learn all the basics like walking on water and catching a knife between their teeth. In exactly five years, they gather in Blue Dragon Town to revenge their father.

They find the area very much changed though – Chau is a huge kingpin now with more minions working for him than Donald Trump. The four immediately get to work and begin whittling away at all the black attired followers of Chau (being dressed in black turns out to be a one-way ticket to an early departure from the film). The four are joined by a mysterious fellow named Tsai (Tien Peng) who seems pretty handy with a sword – but then he should be as he is the Sword King. But even though the minions fall like leaves in a wind storm, Chau shows that he is more than a match for all five of them – even at the same time! Tsai realizes that he needs the Sun Sword to defeat Chau and goes off on a mission to track it down – while the four siblings decide they can’t wait for him and need to give Chau one last challenge. They wade into his well protected fortress and the killing begins in earnest. The action choreography is pretty good in this one with an enormous amount of acrobatic jumps that appear to be very much influenced by the way King Hu shot his action scenes – using trampolines and quick edited shots. At times it is a bit absurd as a character jumps out of one frame and in the next is sitting in a tree a mile away – but over all it is impressive, fast moving and lots of fun.

My rating for this film: 7.5