Image Entertainment // 1971 // 80 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // August 21st, 2009
The King Eagle has landed.
For legendary swordsman Jin Fei (Ti Lung), the last thing he needs is to get involved in the internal political squabbles of the Tien Yi Tong ruling society. But because he's so awesome, everyone loves his unstoppable sword, and he's fallen head over heels for one of the chiefs who happens to be the twin of another chief, he unsheathes his mighty blade and goes to town wrecking fools.
And the fools keep coming, no matter how many of them he delimbs. That's okay, because for Jin Fei, aka "King Eagle," all that bloodshed will simply result in an even more bodacious reputation among the locals. If that's even possible. Which it isn't.
Another day, another dose of old school chopsocky from the legendary Shaw Brothers. This go-round, in lieu of hand-to-hand combat, the fracases are primarily sword-based. Nothing wrong with that, of course, but the issue I have is not the over-reliance on steel rather the misuse of it. Quite simply: the action in King Eagle leaves a fair amount to be desired.
That's not a criticism towards Ti Lung, who obviously has the skills to play the bills in the kung-fu department. He's bad-ass in this, hacking off plastic arms here and there, holding back gigantic horse carts by himself to prevent little unconscious girls from getting run over, equalizing the battlefield when called upon. It's the stuff around them that doesn't work. No matter how hard he tries, he can't make the action choreograph look any less flat. The lunges, thrusts, parries and what not all come across as far too methodical and contrived. The better kung fu films make the fights look organic. King Eagle and its ilk, unfortunately, nukes this particular suspension of disbelief with too-scripted fight scenes.
There is a large amount of gore which almost makes up for the disappointing action staging. Lots of a-holes get their extremities lopped off or their chests gouged or their throats slashed, all of which results in either a) real fake-looking plastic prostheses dropping limply to the ground, b) fountains of bright red liquid erupting from flesh wounds or, c) both.
Not bad...but not enough.
On the upside, the DVD looks terrific. The upgraded 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen is beautiful, clean, and colorful, especially considering the age of the film. Supplementing the pristine video is a solid 2.0 stereo mix (Mandarin, with English subtitles). No extras.
Guilty. There's better kung fu theater out there for your bucks.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Mandarin)
Running Time: 80 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Not Rated