For me there are four kinds of Chang Cheh films.
- Amazing creations of cinematic magic The Water Margin (1972)
- Fantastic action/adventure films The Five Venoms (1978)
- Completely off the mark such as Magnificent Wanderers (1977)
- What kind of drugs was he taking such as Five Element Ninjas (1982)
A lot of people disagree with me on this four category simplification, but it works for me and it seems the later the film the more odd they become. Disciples of Shaolin (a.k.a. Invincible One, The Hung Boxing Kid) is definitely a #2 type of film. The plot is simple, Guan Feng Yi is a country peasant who comes to the city to meet up with his friend Wang Hon who works in a Han fabric company working at the looms. A Manchurian company wants a monopoly and the workers of the Han Fabric company and Guan Feng Yi stands up to the Manchurian bullies. However there are some nice differences in the plot to keep it from being a bog standard patriotic film.
Alexander Fu Sheng’s character isn’t much different from many of his other “I’m simple and cute with bad ass kung fu” characters of some of his other films, and Chi Kuan-Chun’s silent but strong character could have used a bit more development. Chiang Tao’s portrayal as a Manchurian is pretty stereotypical however there really is nothing wrong with Disciples of Shaolin. It is a fun and entertaining action film and worth watching. I streamed it on Amazon Prime. It is the Celestial Pictures remastered edition but only offered the English Dubbed option.
Chang Cheh Director, Script
Ni Kuang, Script
Liu Chia-Liang (aka Lau Kar-Leung), Action Director
Alexander Fu Sheng (Five Shaolin Masters, The Brave Archer, The 8 Diagram Pole Fighter) as Guan Feng Yi
Chi Kuan-Chun (Shaolin Martial Arts, Eagle’s Claw, Seven Swords) as Wang Hon
Chen Ming-Li (Two Assassins of the Darkness, Seven Knights) as Xiao Ying
Wang Ching-Ping (Dragon Gate, 18 Shaolin Disciples) as Chu Hong
Lo Dik (The Sword, Five Shaolin Masters, A Sword Named Revenge) as Boss He
Chiang Tao (Duel with Samurai, The Blind-Swordsman’s Revenge, Return to the 36th Chamber) as Boss Ha He Bu
Fung Hak-On (Last Hurrah for Chivalry, Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain) as Lun Ying Tu
Han Chiang (The Golden Sabre, Dragon Gate Swordsman, Magnificent Wanderers) as Supervisor Tan Da Bao
Fan Sau-Yee as Supervisor Chen Zheng
Hui Lap (The Fearless Golden Dragon) as Yang
Cheung Siu-Kwan (One-Armed Boxer, Five Shaolin Masters) as Foreman Li Kai
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