Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Alexander Fu Sheng, Kuo Chue, Lo Meng and Lin Chen-chi
Director: Chang Cheh
Genres: Action & Adventure, Indie & Art House
For the film LIFE GAMBLE, Legendary director Chang Cheh teamed his latest star, Alexander Fu Sheng (THE BRAVE ARCHER), with some new talent - a Taiwanese Opera artist (Kuo Chue) and a powerful Chinese muscleman (Lo Meng). ... more »
Once forgotten, now remastered Chang classic
Michael W. Jaworski | Fairfield, NJ USA | 04/03/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1977, the maestro Chang Cheh re-teamed his "Venom" boys (before they were known as that) with Johnny Wang, Billy Tang, Simon Li (who seemed real smug in the interview feature), Fu Sheng, and a few Shaw actresses like Kara Hui & Shirley Yu (unusual for director Chang to use females in lead roles). Not the best movie from this group, but it's pretty damn good, and that's sayin' a lot, pard'. As usual with Shaw Brothers, great, colorful sets; as usual with Chang, esoteric weapons & great performances (especially Philip Kwok a.k.a. Kuo Chui & Lo Mang); as usual with Robert Tai, Liang Ting and Lu Feng, great fu on display; don't know why Robert was so disappointed with it that he took his name off of it.
Now I'll be the first to admit the first half is a bit slow going, and the theme is redundant & obvious-greed will corrupt and kill you (it was done better in "Disciples of Shaolin"-also with Fu Sheng), but there are some killer fights & good set-pieces in the second half. Not to mention a finale that must have inspired Chang's later "Flag of Iron". Navarre (I think that's the company's name who got this from Celestial) did a great presentation-beautiful, widescreen picture; re-mastered audio & subtitles. Also, a pretty good interview section with Lo Mang (really good), Ku Feng (not bad, but real long), Simon Li (dismisses his film career) & Sun Shu-Pei (also really good). Chang Cheh re-made this himself in 1993 under the title, "Hidden Hero." All fans of Shaw Brothers, Chang Cheh and old-school fu, take note."
More Intrigue and Backstabbing than Dynasty
Kendrik Lau | New York City | 03/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I caught this Shaw Brothers chop sockey flick on the "Kung Fu Channel", a HD cable channel that shows chop sockety flicks 24/7, most of which are Shaw Brothers productions. While most of Shaw Brothers movies revolved around only a select group of characters, "Life Gamble", instead had a ensemble cast that swelled up to at least 16.
The story basically revolved around a group of bandits (three men and a woman) who waylayed a caravan belonging to the Nan family, who in turn was "escorting" a valuable piece of jade to its rightful owner. Unwilling to share the jade amongst themselves with the flimsy excuse of the fear of incurring the wrath of the Nan family, they decided to gamble for it; with only one of them walking away with the priceless heirloom. They appointed a well-known "King of Gamblers" called Golden Lion to act as a neutral party to determine which of the 4 will win the jade.
Golden Lion had his own ideas about acquiring the jade, and so does about every well-known martial artists who lives in town who caught wind of it. Throw also into the mix is the local constable and his daughter and a retired blacksmith, who forged most of the weapons used by the aforementioned martial artists.
"Life Gamble", while featured its fair share of battle sequences, also featured intrigue and backstabbing aplenty, as each character makes and breaks alliances and reveal other ulterior motives with almost monotonous regularity. At the end of the day, practically the entire cast was wiped out; even the top billed actors are not immune from the rate of attrition. While Shaw Brothers flicks usually featured one token major female character (if at all), this movie has a whopping four; and these are not damsels in distress...all are capable black widows.
Given the huge ensemble cast, it is easier to keep track of who is who while watching the movie with sub-titles. I for one, do not care for the horrendous English dubbing as shown on Kung Fu HD. Luckily, the DvD release do not even give you that option. The language is Mandarin with English subs.
The extras feature interviews with various actors and producers who worked with Shaw Brothers, but the interviews were not specifically about "Life Gamble", they are just generic interviews in which the interviewees related their careers in the industry. The interviews are obviously edited and a couple were quite short.
In all, "Life Gamble" is one of Shaw Brother's more interesting efforts. With so much packed in that it is hard to believe the movie is under one hour and forty minutes long....but it gets a little predictable after the umpteenth character showed his or her true colors and try to take the piece of jade for his or herself. Otherwise, figuring out who to trust and who will make it to the credits keeps the film engaging.