Image Entertainment // 1975 // 107 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // November 10th, 2009
Competing textile mills + kung fu = ?
Khan, a wandering expert in Shaolin, is hard up for work and ends up taking a job in a textile mill. Things appear to be looking fruitful, an extended and satisfying career in looms lying ahead, but then trouble breaks out. The rival clan and textile mill start mixing it up and aggressive hand-to-hand combat ensues.
You know what that means: Shaolin discipleship! Our hero proceeds to train his bros in the art of the smackdown, prepping them for the eventual face-off. But when it comes down to it, when you really need to throttle some fools, just do it yourself. Especially if you have access to something called the "Iron-Finger Lock," which can really mess someone up.
So it goes that this Shaw Brothers oddity stumbles along for the majority of its runtime, concerning itself with the politics of archaic textile mill operation and slapstick humor that is funny solely because of a dopey soundtrack and clumsy dubbing.
Spots of martial artistry pop up here and there, but it isn't until the big fight at the end -- where Khan single-handedly takes on the entire clan -- that we receive the main course. It's by far the highlight of the film and a truly impressive piece of fight choreography. The sequence spans an entire house and gets relatively fearsome, to the point where the final segment is filmed in black and white to minimize the shock of the blood flow.
Beyond the high point, there's little else going on worthy of recommendation, even to the most hardcore kung fu aficionados. While the combat finale is a winner, as far as scope, participation, and sheer quantity of mayhem, the technique is your typical methodical kung fu plotting. Ultimately, it devolves into a slow, plodding throwdown unworthy of the final word on Shaolin and its disciples.
As for the DVD, the 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, a notable cleaned-up visual presentation, is the best aspect of this release. The audio falls far short, however, a tinny mono mix that does little to transmit the oomph of Shaolin. No extras.
They can't all be winners. Guilty.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Mandarin)
Running Time: 107 Minutes
Release Year: 1975
MPAA Rating: Not Rated