Seven Soldiers of Kung Fu/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
In this great sequel to one of my favorite kung fu films of all time, Seven Blows of the Dragon (1973) we again join the 108 warriors of Liang Shan. They are a group of outlaws who fought for the people of the Chinese countryside in the old times. At the beginning of the film we see what happened in the previous story with flashbacks explaining the fate of the Liang Shan warriors who fought at Hangchow, the stronghold of the villain of the film: Fang La. All seven of the heroes are tragically killed in a bloody battle. We then see the Liang Shan Navy launch a secondary surprise attack at Hangchow Waterway Gate to no avail where the leader Yuan III is killed. They just cant break through.
The Emperor decides to find a new seven to infiltrate Fang La's fortress by any means. He then chooses Chang Chin, Tsau Yi (David Chiang), Chi (Ti Lung), Tsi Chin (Chen Kuan Tai) and Chen and his wife to fight this time. The Emperor we can see, has contempt for the biggest guy of the group known to all as The Black Whirlwind (Fan Mei Sheng). The Black Whirlwind has a loud boisterous personality and he seems to create havoc wherever he goes, which isnt too good if the Liang Shan are to penetrate Fang La's lair in a secretive mission. (Note: Look for Betty Chung who played Mei Ling in Enter The Dragon in the early scenes).
The newly assigned seven all try to get into the fortress of Fang La, but after the Black Whirlwind starts a fight with one of Fang La's guards outside the main gate, all hell breaks loose and the 108's cover is blown again. They barely get out alive as they fight the guards in the first blood drenched battle of the film. One of the seven are killed, leaving only six. After the first big battle, on the outskirts of the town, Tsau Yi runs into a famous wrestler-fighter named Tsu Sing Fong (Bolo Yeung) who works for Fang La. Fong wears a leopard pattern coat, but when Tsau Yi tells him to bring it on, we see quickly that Fong isnt anywhere near as fast or as tough as good ol Tsau Yi. One thing I love about this character David Chiang plays is whenever he appears (like in Seven Blows of the Dragon) we hear a sound effect that goes: "Chigga Chigga Chaaa". This is one of those cool Shaw Brothers touches that makes everyone in the audience react in unison at the hero on screen when they show up to kick some butt. Noone makes Kung Fu films like Chang Cheh, he truly was a master.
The film features several great fight sequences and one that really stands out is the bloody fight between Tsi Chin and Fang La's army. Tsi Chin has a dragon tattoo covering his body and this gives him a cool appearance when he takes off his shirt. When Tsi begins to fight, he catches a spear in the abdomen, so as he fights, the blood flows more and more. In the battle against what looks like 100 guards, Tsi uses everything he can to fight including a wooden stool, thus creating wooden stool fu and a large beam (beam fu). Theres nothing like a Chang Cheh fight to get your adrenaline rushing. The trademark bright red paint-blood ends up everywhere including on the walls. The only bad part is that after being stabbed several times by the guards with spears, Tsi Chin dies.
Chen's wife returns to the base of operations where she explains that Tsi Chin has been killed. The seven all lower their heads and we can see they have had enough. They decide to go at it again from another angle: Through the front door! The only problem is, Fang La is now aware that the seven are trying to breach the fortress so they can takeover. In a smart move, Fang La has his guards dress as simple townspeople. When the seven make their way into the town, the guards whip off their town clothes and they catch the seven off guard. A huge battle ensues with The Black Whirlwind at the front. After another bloody brutal battle to the death, The Black Whirlwind is killed and most of the others including Chen's wife are killed by Fang La's guards. The only ones left now are Tsau Yi and Chen. They decide their only resort now is to try breaking through the Hangchow Waterway Gate like their brothers tried to do. Chin's best skill is swimming underwater hence his nickname "The White Fish". Chin swims under the first netlike barrier and gets to the Waterway Gate where he then tries to get under the heavy spiked fence, while he does that, the Emperor and the 108 Army rush the fortress catching Fang La's men off guard. The only problem is, Chin is killed after being impaled on the metal spiked bars while helping the others. The Emperor and the army finally take the Waterway Gate!
Meanwhile, Fang La finds out his guards have started to desert the fortress town, running for the hills. At this point we see just how much of a big wuss Fang La really is, he basically turns into a Chinese gimp and decides to run away from the Liang Shan army through the back door. Tsau Yi wont let them get away that easy. He is waiting outside and he chases Fang La and his army down as they try to run into the mountains. This sequence is really funny because Tsau Yi is all by himself chasing this huge group of guys down. One or two Fang La's men try to fight Tsau Yi, but they just get their asses kicked hard.
Tsau Yi takes on the army again at the top of the mountain, but hes mortally wounded from a spear to the abdomen and as he dies we hear the final "Chigga Chigga Chaaaa" of the film. Brother Wu, the one armed soldier (who fought Fang La previously and was dismembered), shows up, hes the only one left of the original seven soldiers. He confronts Fang La and kills him in a quick battle. The Emperor and The Liang Shan Army arrive only to find Wu dying from blood loss. Wu passes away in front of them as they watch. In a tragic and sad but honorable ending, the seven warriors of kung fu have done their job. The Liang Shan have triumphed!!
Peter Roberts is the co-founder/editor-in-chief of the Grindhouse Cinema Database (GCDb) and contributor to the GCDb's sister site Furious Cinema. A Massachusetts native, he is an avid film fan that has been immersed in the world of entertainment and pop culture his entire life. He is currently majoring in Communications and Interactive Media Design.