I decided to remove all the Shaw Brothers paraphernalia from the 'Assorted Bits & Pieces' column and put them in a column all their own. This new section is called SHAW BROTHERS CINEMA: RARE FILMS, UNFINISHED PRODUCTIONS & BEHIND THE SCENES. For this edition, there's a lot of cool stuff for fans of the famed studio. All pictures are from various Southern Screen magazines throughout the year of 1979.
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First up are some photos behind the scenes as well as during the filming of respected director, Sun Chung's exciting Wuxia/kung fu film, TO KILL A MASTERMIND (1979).
The film was heavily promoted in Shaw Brothers movie periodicals throughout the year leading up to its release in November of 1979. Sun Chung, by this point, was a director of some repute having helmed such classy motion pictures as JUDGEMENT OF AN ASSASSIN (1977) and the award winning dramatic Wuxia thriller, AVENGING EAGLE (1978).
Sun Chung was taking a major gamble with this picture by casting predominantly unknown performers. Most of the main cast previously had minor roles as thugs and were now getting their time in the spotlight. Sadly, it would be very brief as TO KILL A MASTERMIND was a theatrical failure. A shame, really, as the film contains bristling action sequences and the stars have more than enough charisma to have made it as headliners. Shaw villain fave, Wang Lung Wei plays a major role in the movie.
1979 saw the premiere of several new talents. Hui Ying Hung had already done some film work for Chang Cheh and other directors, but her tenure with Liu Chia Liang allowed her to show off her kung fu skill in movies like MY YOUNG AUNTIE, THE MARTIAL CLUB (both 1980) and THE LADY IS THE BOSS (1983).
Also pictured are Hsiao Hou and Yang Tsing Tsing. Hsiao was a student of Liu Chia Liang and got a major push in the lead for the production of MAD MONKEY KUNG FU (1979). He never really caught on with audiences, but later found favor with Sammo Hung at Golden Harvest when Shaw's closed their movie making doors. Yang Tsing Tsing was a real martial artist and got to show off her flexibility and skills in such movies as THE TREASURE HUNTERS (1981) and HOLY FLAME OF THE MARTIAL WORLD (1983).
Now for some behind the scenes shots...
Mou Tun Fei (LOST SOULS, MEN BEHIND THE SUN) gives direction to Pai Piao and Shi Szu while shooting A DEADLY SECRET (1980), then known as THE PRECIOUS JADE.
Chen Kuan Tai and Wong Yu taking a break from filming CRIPPLED AVENGERS and DIRTY HO respectively.
Gordon Liu (left), Lo Lieh (middle) and Liu Chia Liang (right) were working together on CLAN OF THE WHITE LOTUS (1979). Lo Lieh was trying his hand at directing while master Liu (right) handled the choreography.
Alexander Fu Sheng was having some rough times with the month of September. On September 17th, 1978, he nearly killed himself in an accident on the set of THE DEADLY BREAKING SWORD (1979). The following year also in September on the 19th, he broke his leg while filming HEROES SHED NO TEARS (1980). He's seen here in the hospital with his wife, singing sensation, Jenny Tseng by his side.
And now for some unfinished business....
This was an unfinished production from director Johnny Lo Mar (MONKEY KUNG FU, FIVE SUPERFIGHTERS, BRUCE LEE & I) entitled THE MAGNIFICENT SPEARMAN. Reportedly, the lead star, Austin Wai was involved in a near career killing accident that successfully darkened his rising star. He did return to movies some time later and got another shot at a lead role in the film, GANGMASTER in 1982.
Above and below are some shots from an incomplete movie called SIGN OF THE EAGLE starring good friends, Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng. I would say it's safe to assume that Fu's injuries were a crippling factor in this film being shelved.
Both actors showcased a lot of onscreen charisma in both AVENGING EAGLE (1978) and THE DEADLY BREAKING SWORD (1979), two classic Wuxia movies.
More cast photos....
Here's a shot of the actors that came to be known as the 'venoms'. Four of them are pictured at the bottom of this picture shown above, but the photo at top features them all. This was a publicity shot for the upcoming production of SHAOLIN RESCUERS (1979). From the picture, it appears this was taken either during, or at the end of shooting for CRIPPLED AVENGERS (1978). From left to right-- (top row) Pai Piao, Lo Mang, Chang Cheh, Sun Chien, Lu Feng. (Second row) Liu Kwong Shi and Chiang Sheng.
Sun Chien never quite got the respect he deserved in the films he did with his fellow venom cohorts. He did get to shine in CHINATOWN KID (1977) prior to being featured in Chang's seminal FIVE VENOMS (1978) and a number of other movies. He also had some supporting roles in films for other directors when his contract with Chang Cheh expired. He can be seen in other films such as CLAN FEUDS (1981), THE LADY IS THE BOSS (1983) and SECRET SERVICE OF THE IMPERIAL COURT (1984).
Above is a look at the theatrical poster for the fan favorite, THE KID WITH THE GOLDEN ARM (1978). It was one of a few films to feature all six actors that appeared in FIVE VENOMS together.
UNTIL NEXT TIME....