Country: Hong Kong
Genre: Action/ Martial Arts
Director: Hua Shan
TRASH CINEMA HIGHLY RECOMMENDED MOVIE
When Prince Jin (Chiu Gwok) rapes the wife of the deposed Tang Dynasty emperor, who then commits suicide, bodyguard Li Lang (Lau Wing) vows revenge.
But Master Chen Bo (Lung Tien-Hsiang) sees a way to use this unfortunate turn of events to his advantage. Chen Bo wants permission to be allowed to become a “fairy,” as the subtitles would have it — that is, to go into seclusion so he can achieve martial arts mastery. He figures that Prince Jin, who is slated to inherit the throne from the dying emperor (Wong Yung), isn’t likely to grant his wish.
Chen Bo has a plan. Prince Jin was so arrogant that he had the royal painter (Wong Ching-Ho) depict the rape of the deposed emperor’s wife as it was occurring. If Chen Bo can steal the painting, he can present it to the emperor as proof that Prince Jin violated the emperor’s decree that the deposed emperor and his wife should be left alone. That way, he hopes, the succession will pass to Prince De Zhao (Max Mok), who in return for his help in gaining the throne will grant his request.
But that is only the beginning of the plots and counter plots that pepper this wildly entertaining and fast paced wuxia from director Hua Shan.
Also playing major roles in the action are Xiang Ling (Leanne Lau, cute as a squirrel), a student of Chen Bo who nurses a love jones for Li Lang, and Golden Tiger (Chun Wong), who is the patriarch of an outpost of the defeated Tang and a friend of Li Lang.
How to describe this movie?
Well, it’s got nonstop intrigue, paced so quickly the viewer can barely keep up. That also describes the wild and exciting martial arts battles choreographed by Wong Pau-Gei, Yuen Wah, and Yuen Bun. There’s lots of wirework and acrobatics, but there is a fair amount of martial arts mixed in, too. If I have a minor criticism, it’s that the editing is so quick that you have to strain to follow the logic of the fights.
I’ve also got to put in a word for the colorful sets and costumes — lots of eye candy there.
The rousing score by Stephen Shing and So Jan-Hau is old fashioned Western orchestral adventure music, and it works beautifully with the material.
The acting is broad and expert in the house Shaw style.
The plotting, which is as ruthlessly logical as it is convoluted, eventually ends up in a place that not everyone will like, but you can’t fault the screenwriters of the Shaw Creative Group for their courage. I had to laugh out loud at the stubborn integrity of the filmmakers.
Usurpers of Emperor’s Power is a grand entertainment. If you enjoy latter day Shaw Brothers flicks at all, I highly recommend it.
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