Daredevils (1979) October 28, 2007Posted by Cal in : 1970s films, Kung Fu , trackback
Things have been a bit quiet here for a few weeks for a couple of reasons. I’ve been writing about some non-Hong Kong movies (such things do exist, apparently) and more recent HK releases over at Obsessed With Film. The other is a self-imposed abstention from Kung Fu films which has lasted a good three months. Such fasting is necessary sometimes to keep from becoming blasé about the subject, and it has built up my appetite for this particular film, which I’ve been looking forward to ever since seeing Crippled Avengers. Although I’m looking to get a more varied movie diet in the next few weeks (for example, I’m going to be looking at some more Johnny To films in the near future) I don’t want this blog to die completely and will continue to use it to promote Kung Fu films. So without further ado, I give you this evening’s feature presentation…
Director: Chang Cheh Cast: Phillip Kwok, Chiang Sheng, Wong Lik, Sun Chien, Lo Meng, Lu Feng Territory: Hong Kong Production Company: Shaw Brothers
There’s a plot in here relating to an evil warlord that kills off one of our heroes’ family, but it’s all very strained and perfunctory. Actually, a lot of the movie is quite perfunctory and there’s a general half-arsedness (if that’s a real word) to it all.
A case in point is the whole middle section, which is flatter than an unusually flat pancake that’s been gone over by a steamroller. There’s an attempt at intrigue (I guess this was around the time the Chor Yuen films were popular) involving the sale of a non-existent weapons cache and it just falls on its face. And it seems to go on for months!
This is from the team behind the now legendary Five Venoms and the new love of my life, Crippled Avengers. The Venoms themselves are on fine form, and leap about with great aplomb. But Chang Cheh, as usual, shows he was utterly incapable of consistency. There’s also a worrying turn towards comedy (again, another film that was doing great box-office around this time was Drunken Master) with some of the routines and the Venoms doing comedy just doesn’t feel right at all.
There are high points. Oh yes, there are high points. For example, for connoisseurs of the nunchaku this film is a must-see. We have a couple of blazing scenes involving the weapon, including the best with Lo Meng (who will forever be remembered as the Toad from Five Venoms) who is simply stunning with them. As well as this, the last fifteen minutes are action packed and very compelling.
I am not the type of fan who demands action all the way through a film (and often complain when presented with such), but the unevenness of Daredevils is a hurdle that is simply insurmountable. Were it not for the truly horrid attempt at being a second-rate thriller (and failing) and the lacklustre approach to the story and characterisation (we simply do not know enough about the characters or why they seem to be bonded to each other) there would be much to enjoy. Sadly, though, Daredevils misfires far too often to be truly enjoyable.