Title: The Avenging Eagle (1978)
Director: Chung Sun
Cast: Sheng Fu, Lung Ti, Feng Ku
I love me a good Kung Fu flick, for the longest time, the problem for me with these old kung fu movies was getting a hold of them. They simply weren’t available on any format! Also, so many of these films have been produced, that sometimes they get lost in the shuffle; case in point, The Avenging Eagle; a Kung Fu movie that I’d never heard about, yet ended up loving the hell out of. I guess that’s okay, especially when we take in consideration that many of these Kung Fu movies received a theatrical released way back in the 70’s and then were never seen again. But now, thanks to the folks at Celestial Pictures I have been getting up to date with a lot of these old Kung Fu Flicks. The Weinstein Company has unearthed them through their ‘Dragon Dynasty’ label. I have to thank these guys for that. They’ve been releasing these old Kung Fu movies in pristine condition, re-mastered and looking grand spanking new. If it wasn’t for these guys I would have never seen films like The One Armed Swordsman (1967) and Return of the One Armed Swordsman (1969) or the awesome Kung Fu classic King Boxer (1972), so this is a good label to look into my friends, they got some really interesting films on their roster.
But today I will be talking about The Avenging Eagle (1978) which is a film about this man who is running from a group of outlaws who call themselves ‘The 13 Eagles’. The groups leader is a man who calls himself ‘King Eagle’; what this King Eagle does is he takes children and trains them in the deadly ways of kung fu, then he brainwashes them into believing that they have to follow his every whim and desire; which they do. He sends them to steal gold and to kill his own personal enemies, they do it blindly, because its all they’ve ever known. After a while, our protagonist decides he wants out of the ’13 Eagles’ which of course upsets ‘King Eagle’ who sends the remaining 12 to hunt down and kill the traitor. Will he escape the claws of his past?
This Kung Fu classic has many great things going for it, chief amongst them is the fact that it is never for a minute boring. Since we have 12 deadly assassins chasing after the hero of the film, we have to see him defeat all 12 of them through out the course of the film. This of course means that every five minutes, two new Eagles appear to fight against our hero. Coolest part of it all is that every fight is just a bit different then the other because each eagle specializes in a different fighting technique and weapon. So we have the dude who fights well with axes, the guy who fights with swords, the guy who fights with his pipe (true!) but trust me, the weapons get cooler and cooler as the film moves along. This is something that distinguishes Kung Fu films, the variety of weapons that the characters use, and this film has some awesome ones. We get everything from wrist blades to Iron Claws.
The fights all build up to the amazing climactic fight with the leader of The Eagle Gang, King Eagle. Now this is one amazing Kung Fu duel! First the good guys have to dispatch of a couple of lower class kung fu mothers, but the final confrontation between the good guys and King Eagle is awesome one to behold, coolest part? It’s a lengthy fight that goes on and on, like I said, the film is never boring. The production also has good art direction, special care was taken to make this one look just a bit different, the sets and location give it a unique look that makes it stand out from other Shaw Brothers productions. For example, the lair of the 13 Eagles is this awesome, spacious set that looks like the interior of a boat, whit a giant golden eagle hanging in the background. Same as Hammer Films did, The Shaw Brothers had a roster of directors that commonly made films for them. The most renowned were Chang Cheh who made The Five Deadly Venoms (1978) and Chia Liang Liu who made The 36th Chambers of Shaolin (1978). The Avenging Eagle was directed by Chung Sun a director who wasn’t as renowned as the others, but from what I gather, he put his name on the map with The Avenging Eagle. The film balances great fighting sequences, with an involving revenge story that has more then a couple of surprises in store for the audience. The director chooses to tell his tale through a series of flashbacks, each more revealing then the next until it all hooks up to the amazing finale, which is worth the wait. Highly recommend this one if your looking for a night of awesome Kung Fu action.
Rating: 5 out of 5