Friday, March 11, 2016

"7 Man Army" (1976) d/ Chang Cheh

 photo 13010883675_78964b5f26_o_zps4puqzsoe.jpg
What would you have if you packed the top Shaw Brothers stars of the day (Ti Lung, Fu Sheng, Chen Kuan Tai, Chi Kuan Chun...even David Chiang!) into a two hour Chinese version of "Zulu", as directed by Chang Cheh? Well, we're about to find out as we tackle 7 Man Army, or "Six Chinese Soldiers With Interesting Back Stories and an Orphaned Kid Hold Off Twenty Thousand Japanese Troops During the War", as it should probably be known. If you're thinking "I'd better install some seat belts on my sectional sofa before I pop this one in...", nobody in their right mind could feasibly blame you here.

 photo 7-man-army-fu-sheng-et-chi-kuan-chun_d712b34d74c4d579f858230ffd4c1e05_zps4jk1mcbl.jpg
"Put your muscles away already, Chu," pleads Private He (Fu Sheng).
In the midst of an epic battle between the heroic Chinese and those stereotypically dirty Japs, six soldiers rise to the bellicose occasion in keeping their homeland strewn with the bloody dead bodies for the nationalist cause, epically heroic cats like Battle Commander Wu (Ti Lung), Private Bai (David Chiang), Private He (Fu Sheng), Private Jiang (Chen Kuan Tai), Private Pan (Li Yi-Min), and Private Chu (Chi Kuan Chun). In any other war, a handful of mere soldiers would be soon dispatched under the might of thousands of  Imperial troops with superior firepower and weaponry, but these men have all suffered under the Japanese heel long enough, and it's time to let their gung fu do the talking. The Japs send in a squadron of Mongol mercenaries( "Beardy" and Johnny Wang), as led by Colonel Hu (Liu Chia Hui), but even these ruthless murderers in Sherlock Holmes hats are no match for the plucky Chinese troops, who have only just adopted a war orphan (Ting Wa Chung), while defending a captured fortress from the advancing foot soldiers, no less. Hot damn.

 photo 7-man-army-leung-kar-yan-et-johnny-wang-et-gordon-liu-mongols_4f9a334ecf7c807a3510bc7a206d3d06_zpsvf0fvuor.jpg
"Screw what anybody thinks. We'll start a Mongolian Sherlock Holmes Hat Appreciation Society, as of right now."
In each battle, just when you'd expect the bombardment of tank shells and bullets to intensify, it stops dead, and the Chinese and Japanese square off in large scale martial contests. Luckily for the outnumbered Chinese, the advantageous Imperialists choose to use their rifles as short staffs, rather than shoot them at point blank range, which would negate the defenders' many strategic grenade tosses that send any Japanese caught in frame magically sprawling ass o'er tit through the sky in an impressive puff of smoke. Gung Fu also never shrinks from battle against Karate. Never forget that. Several dramatic flashbacks later, the Japanese finally take the gloves off and send in an insurmountable number of troops and tanks, leaving the orphaned boy in charge of Private Bai's gold rings gift to his wife, who he's treated horribly prior to the current war business. In case I fall in battle, make sure she gets them, boy! I'll give you a sec to Kleenex up any sniffles you might be experiencing. You already see the end coming from a mile away, so I won't bother elaborating upon it, here.
 photo bca4ed46-0cc2-425f-99f3-078f5ddd3ccf_zpscou99roh.png
" fish in a barrel, eh Suzuki?"
You'll recognize some future Venoms like Kuo Chui and Lu Feng in there as extras; Philip Ko Fei, Miao Tian, and Fung Ngai, who made a career out of playing Japanese bad guys for Shaw Brothers and Golden Harvest, are in there, too. If you're sitting down to watch this one, there's a good chance you aren't going to hold the production to any degree of historical accuracy, and you shouldn't. It's a balls out pro-Chinese bayonet-slashing, Imperialist head-cracking, flag waving good time full of stage blood and explosions, starring all your favorites in top form (...even David Chiang, for real). Despite the running time, it never drags or fails to entertain. And of course I was rooting for Gordon Liu, "Beardy", and Johnny Wang all the way. Three Wops. Hunt it down.

 photo f897f2b9-9c6b-482d-9b14-076f6144d62e_zpsvbqnwlm5.png
"There'll be children with robins and flowers, as sunshine caresses each new waking hour.", croons Battle Commander Wu (Ti Lung).
 photo nu3w_zps21ec95cd.jpg

No comments:

Connect with Facebook