Friday, April 8, 2011

"The Treasure Hunters"(1982)d/Liu Chia Yung

Tonight we look at a hugely successful Shaw Brothers kung fu comedy, directed by middle Liu brother, Chia Yung, and starring the late Fu Sheng while introducing his own real life brother Chang Chan Peng, as well as third Liu, the venerable Chia Hui and his ever shaved head, Wang Lung Wei, the essential martial bad guy of all-time, paired with high kicking swordstress, Yang Ching Ching, this time around, and even a humorous cameo by the director himself as a cratchety antiques dealer.Especially notable, Fu Sheng had just broken both his legs on another film and worries had arisen whether he'd ever be able to physically perform in front of the cameras again.Judging by this movie, he quickly put everyone's fears to rest, trampolining himself into the air from shop awnings and pole vaulting himself into action from the opening sequences on the lush Shaw Brothers sets.As for the chemistry between Sheng and Peng, they play off each other effectively throughout the film, with Sheng as a sort of Lou Costello to Peng's Bud Abbott.Also notable here is the noticeable difference between Liang and his brother Yung when directing movies.Liang's movies always have a deep-rooted morality at their core, while Yung abandons morals for laughs at every juncture, as is evident here; the main protagonists are a con man/thief and a spoiled rich kid, with nary a moral to share between them, but the audiences are expected to cheer the enterprising criminals on and laugh at their broad jokes.I doubt you'd be asked of the same in any Liang movie.
"Do you take credit cards?" asks Chau Chu Chi(Chang Chan Peng).
At the outset, we see a cross-eyed sheriff(To Siu Ming) escorting his obese wife by horse across the badlands when he's set upon by a masked bandit while his two hundred men lie in wait in the high grass and surrounding cliff ledges.He steals the official's gun, armband, and horse, leaving the lazy-eyed lawman to discover that the thief had only set up dummies and weapons to give the illusion of a crew of villainous henchmen.Worse yet, he's now forced to carry Fatty on his back the rest of the way.Back in town, Chi Ta Po(Fu Sheng) snickeringly relates the story to a number of friends, then demands payment for the laughs he's just provided them.While eating at the restaurant, he notices a self-centered young nobleman(Chang Chan Peng) running up his own bill with piles of extravagant food he'd never finish even if he wanted to.Chu convinces Chi to enter into a partnership with him, where they share everything, including the massive debt he's just entered into and has no cash to pay, leading them both into a massive fight with the restaurant's men.Afterwards, Chi is inadvertently captured by the sheriff, and Chu writes a bad personal check to pay his bail, promising his partner the majority of Chan Po Chu's fabled treasure, once the two men find it.They surmise that a stack of the deceased Chan's letters, now owned by an elderly antiques dealer(Liu Chia Yung), must contain clues to the fortune's whereabouts, so they set out first to buy them, and if that doesn't work, there's always stealing...
Fu Sheng picks on the cross-eyed To Siu Ming every chance he gets.
Also searching for the treasure is Lord Mo(Wang Lung Wei) and his deadly female cohort(Yang Ching Ching), killing anyone who looks for the treasure and blaming the murders on a travelling Buddhist monk(Liu Chia Hui)and his five monk entourage.If you're looking for the motivation for anybody seeking the riches, or why killing those who do is an effective strategy, you're watching the wrong movie.Chi and Chu manage to steal the letters by using the exorbinant value of the dealer's other antiques to their advantage in a late night fight, after being caught breaking into his home.They decide that the monk must know the whereabouts of the treasure, and after trying to get him arrested by the flaccid lawman, they befriend him instead when they become aware of Lord Mo's treachery, leading to another martial battle of epic proportions where Mo and his female sidekick easily defeat Chi, Chu, and the monk, whose leg gets slashed in the process.The student monks rescue the men, but are unable to defeat Mo as their special Five Monk Array technique is ineffective due to their injured master.Away from the melee, the injured monk teaches Chu to join in the acrobatic, pyramid-like technique in his place, while Chi surmises that glue would help him greatly in a square off against the female's swords.What follows is a dizzying free-for-all involving glue cannisters, tumbling monks, and wooden practice dummies that will leave the audience gasping for breath by the time the words "Another Shaw Classic" flash on the screen.
Mo Seung(Liu Chia Hui), the monk, is dragged into the scramble for Chan Po Chu's treasure.
Yung's directorial credits include Dirty Kung Fu(1978),The Fake Ghost Catchers(1982),Wits of the Brats(1984),and Skinny Tiger, Fatty Dragon(1990), some of which we'll look at later on.If I was gonna list his acting or fight choreographer credits, I could be here all day.I shouldn't have to mention too much about my favorite Shaw Brothers actor here, except that he went on to star in Hong Kong Playboys(1983), Wits of the Brats, and his final appearance in Liu Chia Liang's Eight-Diagram Pole Fighter(1983) after completing this one.Peng seems to have completely dropped off the radar after appearing in only five movies; this being his only starring turn.As for the evil Wang Lung Wei, who's become one of my favorites over the years, we'll be looking at a film of his where he isn't the villain later on.You'll wanna be around for that.The flexible, potent Yang Ching Ching scored herself 11 assistant fight choreographer credits, as well as acting in 36 films herself.If you're into action-packed kung fu comedies, this will be the movie you've been looking for.Amazing martial arts and stunts, some good laughs, and a cast packed with Shaw Brothers stars, it merits the full four big ones on the scale.Look for it!
Lord Mo(Wang Lung Wei) has no problem holding off Chu, Chi, and two wooden practice men.


achillesgirl said...

I've never seen this and it sounds like fun. Thanks for making me have to get ANOTHER movie! :)

beedubelhue said...

Glad I could be of service!


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