The Water Margin (1972)

The Water Margin, also known Outlaws of the Marsh and Seven Blows Of The Dragon, is a 1972 Hong Kong film adapted from the Chinese classical novel Water Margin chapters 64-68. It tells the tale of how “Jade Unicorn” Lu Junyi came to join the outlaw band at Liangshan Marsh and the outlaws’ battle with the Zeng Family Fortress.

This is another Shaw Brothers classic.  There is not much wrong with this film.  If I had to nit pick I would first complain about the sound track.  They used a modern (for the time) sound track and I found it distracting listening to a funky bass line or “Chicka Chickhaaa” sound every time Yen Ching showed his face, that and there were still a few of Chang Cheh’s unhistorical bare chested costumes, and his use of chrome weapons.  However it was only a couple of incidents.  Don’t misunderstand me, I think Chang Cheh is an amazing director, I just don’t like it when he puts ‘flare’ to his films.

I’ve yet to read The Water Margin so I don’t know how accurate they stayed to the original chapters 64-68, but they chose a great story that works well in film!  The shear number of characters is amazing (108 heroes according to the books and film), although you only get time to spend developing the leading roles.  I think it helped represent a history of the Liangshan Bandits. The movie has high production value and they are shot on location instead of the traditional shot entirely in the Shaw Brothers studios like you get with films like the One-Armed Swordsman.  Apparently they tried to stay accurate to the martial arts described in the book which is why there is more wrestling than what you would normally find in a film like this. The action (and there is a lot of it) is entertaining and exciting.

Be sure to watch the sequel, All Men are Brothers

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Chang Cheh, Director
Wu Ma, Director
Pao Hsueh-Li, Director
Liu Chia-Liang, Action Director
Tong Kai, Action Director
Lau Kar-Wing, Action Director
Chan Chuen, Action Director

David Chiang Da-Wei (The One-Armed Swordsmen, Have Sword, Will Travel, Once Upon a Time in China II) as The Prodigy, Yen Ching/Yen XiaoYi
Tamba Tetsuro (Three Outlaw Samurai, All Men Are Brothers, Bandits vs. Samurai Squadron) as Jade Unicorn, Lu Chun I
Kurozawa Toshjo (Samurai Assassin, The Water Margin (TV Series) ) as Golden Spear, Shi Wengong
Tung Lam (The Master Sword, The Young Avenger, The Iron Bodyguard) as Heavenly King, Chao Kai
Ku Feng (The Sword and the Lute, All Men Are Brothers, A Chinese Ghost Story II) as Welcome Rain, Sung Jiang
Chin Feng (All Men Are Brothers, Flying Sword Lee) as Clever Star, Wu Yung
Yueh Hua (The Monkey Goes West, Vengeance Is a Golden Blade, Rumble in the Bronx) as Leopard Man, Lin Chong
Wong Chung (Golden Swallow, The Wandering Swordsman, Cantonen Iron Kung Fu) as Fearless One, Shih Hsiu
Ti Lung (Have Sword, Will Travel , Perils of the Sentimental Swordsman) as Magic Sword, Wu Sung
Lily Ho Li-Li (The 14 Amazons, All Men Are Brothers) as Tigress, Lady Hu San Niang
Fan Mei-Sheng (One-Armed Swordsman, The Magnificent Swordsman, The 36 Deadly Styles) as Black Whirlwind, Li
Wu Ma (Lady General Hua Mulan, Mr. Vampire, Swordsman) as Shih Chien
Cheng Lui (The Assassin, The Flying Dagger, Ten Tigers of Shaolin) as Short Tiger, Wang Ying
Paul Chun Pui (Quick Swordsman, The 14 Amazons, Fist of Legend) as Heroic Star, Hua Yung
Chen Kuan-Tai (Wong Fei-Hung: Bravely Crushing the Fire Formation, The Iron Monkey, Dragon Tiger Gate) as Tattooed Dragon, Shi Jin
Danny Lee Sau-Yin (The Iron Bodyguard , The Brave Archer , The Sword Stained with Royal Blood) as White Stripe, Chang Shun
Wu Chi-Chin (The Heroic Ones, Trilogy of Swordsmanship, The New One-Armed Swordsman) as The Pallid, Yang Hsiung
Lee Hang (Last Hero in China, King of Beggars, The Supreme Swordsman) as Magic Messenger, Dai Zong
Lau Dan (The Unknown Swordsman, My Kung Fu Master) as Winged Tiger, Lei Heng
Lei Lung (The Flying Guillotine, All Men Are Brothers) as Thunderclap, Qin Ming
Pang Pang (The Monkey Goes West, All Men Are Brothers) as Monk Lu Shih Sheng
Chang Yang (Two Dragons-Sword, All Men Are Brothers) as Small Whirlwind, Chai Chin
Leung Seung-Wan (Boxer from Shantung, Shaolin Drunk Fighter, Snake Fist) as Redhead Demon, Liu Tang
Lo Wai (The White Dragon, The Invincible Fist, Return of the Sentimental Swordsman) as Beautiful Beard, Zhou Tong
Ho Hon-Chau (The Shadow Boxer, All Men Are Brothers, The Supreme Swordsman) as Boatman, Chang Heng
Tin Ching (Peking Opera Blues, The Bare-Footed Kid, The 13 Cold-Blooded Eagles) as Li Ku
Ling Ling as Lady Chia
Ruby Siu Siu as Tsui Hung
Woo Wai (Iron Bones, The Imperial Swordsman ) as Chief Goaler Tsai Fu
Yeung Chak-Lam (The Deadly Knives, Five Tough Guys) as Chief Goaler Tsai Ching
Liu Wai (The Kung Fu Emperor, Duel at Tiger Village, The Sentimental Swordsman) as Escort Guard Tung Chao
Lee Man-Tai (The Invincible Iron Palm, The 36 Crazy Fists, Half a Loaf of Kung Fu) as Escort Guard Hsueh Pa
Lee Wan-Chung (Smiling Swordsman, The Silver Spear) as Grand Secretary Liang
Shum Lo (Shaolin Prince, Disciples of the 36th Chamber) as Chief clerk Chang
Wong Ching-Ho (Rivals of Kung Fu, The Spiritual Boxer, Return of the Bastard Swordsman) as Court clerk
James Nam Gung-Fan (The 14 Amazons, Bruce and Shaolin Kung Fu, Enter the Game of Death) as General Wen Ta
Lau Gong (The Magnificent Swordsman, The Iron Buddha, All Men Are Brothers) as General Li Cheng
Cheng Miu (The Magnificent Swordsman, The Sentimental Swordsman) as Master Tseng Chang Kuan

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7 thoughts on “The Water Margin (1972)

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