There were so many factions in this one that I gave up on trying to figure out who was who, but this is EXACTLY the sort of movie you’re hoping for when you rent a Shaw Brothers kung fu epic. This one is pretty good, with a mix of comedy and even magic—or ninja-esque super tricks that amount to magic—along with the fighty goodness.
Basically some dude has broken off from a gang, and the leader of said gang sends assassins from several factions to hunt the guy down and kill him. (Yes, the plot is very exotic.) These include the gang’s respective ‘magic fighters’ and ‘spirit fighters,’ who naturally are in competition to be the ones to find and kack the guy.
The target is in hiding, but we’re told he’s the master of all 18 of the legendary weapons of China, and that he has trouble hiding his mad skillz. So needless to say, there’s a fair amount of misidentification of the target. The various assassins fight each other looking for him, etc. Eventually they find him, of course, and things end up with an epic fight in which all 18 weapons are employed, all helpfully via text identified as they are used.
I’d say the only flaw was that one comic fight in the middle of the movie went on a bit too long. Other than that, though, this is pretty great stuff. Oh, and there’s that thing where one character who is CLEARLY a girl is in ‘disguise’ as a boy and amazes everyone around her when the truth comes out. I mean, c’mon.
One thing that really keeps the suspense ramped up is that you never know what sort of movie you’re watching. There are Shaw Brothers movies where EVERYONE gets horribly killed, like a Shakespeare tragedy, and then there are ones where nobody gets killed. (Being a wimp, I kind of like those.) Mostly just the villains and maybe a sidekick gets killed, but again, you never really know until the fadeout which it is.
Anyway, well worth a look for Kung Fu fans. The ninja-esque stuff is particularly good. This particular disc also has a ton of trailers for similar movies on it.