Goddamn You! Your kung fu is lacking...

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The Death Player (1975)

Background: Acquired from a German collector; this looks like a vhs transfer.  It's fullscreen and custom subtitled.  The film is a Taiwanese basher starring Barry Chan, Tsai Hung, Shan Mao and Kong Ban.

Story: Chan Biu is a crook who decides to rob from his own profession.  Smugglers bring in some items (concealed in a bag) via boat, and he robs the recipient before agreeing with his collaborators to split up and share the loot at a derelict town later on.

Tough Bandit Guy is perplexed at the actions of his fellow criminal

Chan Biu takes the loot

Meanwhile, Captain Chen, soon to be married to Xiao Ching, is preparing for his wedding.

The charming Mother-in-law keeps the locals in the loop

His is interrupted by pisshead associate Koo Tsai, who informs him that the boss wants a word.  Chen is told of the day's scuffles, and tasked with investigating.  His bride-to-be and her mother are outraged that Chen is putting his career first - again.

Nevertheless, he receives information from Tsai that the ne'er-do-well is staying at a nearby inn.  Upon arrival, he releases that it's Chan Biu - his brother.  He searches his truck but fails to find the necessary items.  Later, another bad 'un challenges Chan Biu, and Captain Chen and his men watch as a fight breaks out.  Chen's missus turns up and it all kicks off.  They get involved with the crooks' disagreement, and Chan Biu flees in his truck.

Biu busts the truck out of the building as men fight within

Cap runs after him, and eventually manages to apprehend his brother.

Cap Chen smashes the window of Biu's truck with a rock

What follows is a long, near-relentless game of chase, apprehension, escape and chase.  It happens a few times - Chan Biu manages to escape in the woods before Cap hides behind a cow and leaps out, to recapture him.

These guys seem to have a beef with each other

An ambush from Biu's mates at a rest-stop also involves another fight/chase/recapture.  There's another incidence on a rope bridge above an enormous gorge.

Eventually, Cap takes Biu to the derelict town to flush out the bandits, but is ambushed.  Biu is betrayed, however, and rescued by Brother Cap.  He realises the error of his ways, and vows to change.  However, Cap's whiny bint missus is taken hostage by a bandit, and a fight to the death ensues.

We caught him ... again

Impressions:  To be honest, I can't remember the order of the escapes/fights/chases/recaptures.  It's all a bit of a blur.  It makes for compelling Sunday morning viewing - there's no shortage of action here and the film rarely stops for breath.  There's some super little set pieces, such as the scene where Captain Chen chases after his brother's truck, trying desperately to intercept it.  The rope bridge fight is quite splendid, too - there's a decent sense of peril conveyed with some lively camerawork.  The chasing/fights encompass thick woods, rivers, lakes, the ocean, dusty paths, quarries, a small mine and the bust up bandit town.

The final fight on a little boat

The scenery is lovely - as the two guys jump around a rocky river, swinging punches and kicks, it's difficult to know what to concentrate on.

Captain, there's a miner problem ... he's got away.  AGAIN.

The fights themselves are standard basher fayre.  There's some decent-length cuts and the action is always well-framed, which is a big deal to me.  There's plenty of needless leaps towards a man already lying on the ground (why do they do that??) and one or two daft moments of disbelief (Biu jumps off the rope bridge to retrieve the lost bag.  He falls about 100 feet into 2 feet of water and barely breaks sweat, never mind every bone in his body.)  There's nothing special here - Barry Chan and Tsai Hung put on a solid show but nothing particularly memorable.

However, there's a nice little film here.  The pace, as I've said, is breakneck.  The characters ignore their exhaustion, and demonstrate infectious perseverance.  The camerwork and editing help this - though I'm convinced that this copy is cut - and allow the viewer to sit back and enjoy a compact traditional basher.

Good Old Pisshead

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