The 18 Bronzemen/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
I'm a fan of Traditional Kung-Fu movies especially those based around The Shaolin Temple, which I suppose is most of them. Unfortunately my long suffering friends don't seem to share my passion for "the old ways" so when we have our weekly gathering I'm obliged to play whatever new HK/Korean ass kicker I've managed to lay my hands on. I understand it to a degree, watching somebody like Donnie Yen pound 20 or so bad guys into mush is entertaining at the best of times, and even more so after a few beers, but at the same time I feel as if they're missing out. I've always believed that to truly appreciate any art form then you have to understand it's roots and, as pretentious as it sounds, that's how I feel about Traditional Kung-Fu. Sure the older movies haven't always aged well, the acting can be sub-standard, the subtitles off putting and the action ever so slightly over the top but it's these films that paved the way for the likes of The Raid to have the phenomenal kind of success it's had. But more than that, they're just unbelievably good fun.
Which brings me quite nicely to The 18 Bronzemen. The plot should be familiar to anyone who's every watched any sort of Kung-Fu movie. Two young children are left orphaned after their respective families are slaughtered by the Qing Government. Eventually they find their way to the Shaolin Temple where they grow up into Peng Tian and Carter Wong. Trained by The Monks in the many way's of the ass kicking, one joins their ranks (Carter Wong) while the other (Peng Tian) is informed that he cannot until he has kept a promise he made, which is, as with all these types of films, to avenge his father's death. But for him to leave Shaolin he has to defeat The 18 Bronzemen. This is no easy task as he soon finds and fails at his first attempt. Down but not out, our hero eventually tries again and is successful, which allows him the freedom to leave for the outside world where he learns that he is of royal blood and the revenge he seeks is going to be a lot harder than he thought.
This is a good film. Director Joseph Kuo (The 8 Masters) has never let me down before so I guess it was pretty obvious that he wouldn't start with The 18 Bronzemen, a film that is considered by some as his best work. He keeps the pace at his usual brisk level and the set pieces flow nicely together, keeping the story fresh enough in your mind that you don't suddenly find yourself thinking "Wait? What the hell's goin on here?" when another plot device lands smack in your lap thanks to some dodgy re-editing. Hell, he even tries his hand at a little bit of comedy early in the picture which, I'm sure is pretty much unheard of for him. The acting is of the standard that you'd expect from a Kung-Fu flick, it ain't Shakespearean but it ain't Shatner, though it's not their thespian abilities that draw you into these sort of films now is it. It's their ass kicking ones. On this front The 18 Bronzemen gets an A star from me. The fight scenes are excellent, all the actors involved hold their own to a standard not always found in Traditional Kung-Fu movies but the cut above performance for me is Carter Wong. Never a slouch when it came to handing out can's of whupping he seems to turn everything up to 11 for this film especially his first confrontation with The Bronzemen which I highly recommend you YouTube the hell out of, if for no other reason than to see him kick the snot out of guys performing Kung-Fu whilst dressed up like 1950's Sci-Fi robots. Well that's what they look like to me anyway... a good film but not great and I think it's worth 81 minutes of anyone's time. After all we need to know where we've been to see where we're going.