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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Shaw Brothers Cinema: Rare Shaw Lobby Cards For Films Not Yet On DVD

For this edition of Shaw Brothers Cinema: Behind the Scenes, it's a handful of lobby cards and stills for films that have yet to receive a legitimate DVD release anywhere, at least neither in America, nor in Hong Kong. For this entry, the spotlight is on Kuei Chi Hung's STRAW DOGS (1971)/LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972) styled action thriller, KILLERS ON WHEELS (1976) aka SPEED GANG.

***WARNING! This article contains nudity***

In this one, Ling Yun plays Kuo Ching chung, an office worker on a respite to a small island on the outskirts of Hong Kong. Along with his wife, Chen Mei chuan (INFRAMAN's Terry Liu), his sister, Carrie (Chiang San) and her boyfriend, Huang Szu wei (Danny Li Hsiu hsien), the quartet are harrassed by a group of sadistic bikers. As each encounter escalates in violence, Kuo and his wife must use ruthless tactics to fight back against the homicidal biker gang.

Above: scenes from the film and director Kuei Chi Hung directing the cast

Plagued with a number of problems including injuries suffered by the crew, infuriated performers upset over wages, difficulties with police and a passionately tyrannical director, the film began shooting in the early part of 1976 and entered theaters during the latter part of August that same year.

TO KILL A MASTERMIND (1979) is one of celebrated director, Sun Chung's most striking Wuxia/kung fu pictures. It contains an high amount of action sequences and, unlike his other films, foregoes any major names in the lead roles opting instead to feature new faces. Wang Lung Wei (SHAOLIN MARTIAL ARTS) is the one big marquee name here. The Chi Sha gang is a powerful organization of criminals headed by a man whose identity is unknown. A few spies are ordered to infiltrate the gang and destroy them from the inside out as well as To Kill the Mastermind pulling the strings of the Chi Sha killers. For a review of the film including lots of magazine photos click HERE.

EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF (1980) was a kung fu comedy directed by Chang Shen (KUNG FU MASTER NAMED DRUNK CAT, TWO WONDROUS TIGERS, DAGGERS 8). It stars Wang Sha of MR. FUNNYBONE fame and Lin Hui Huang (THE BRAVE ARCHER) as two conmen who meet up with a female martial artist named Ah Ying. Disguised as a man, the two crooks learn their feisty friend is being pursued by Hua, her wicked stepmother, and her lover, who have killed Ying's father. The duplicitous couple hire a kung fu hitman to bring Ying out of hiding. This film is important mainly for being the first screen appearance of Yang Tsing Tsing (CLAN OF THE WHITE LOTUS, TREASURE HUNTERS).

Here's one of ten cards from the US presskit for the fan favorite, THE KILLER (1971/1972), aka THE SACRED KNIVES OF VENGEANCE. Chin Han (HEROIC ONES), Tsung Hua (TO KILL A JAGUAR) and Wang Ping (VENGEANCE!) star in Chu Yuan's follow up to his first Shaw production, DUEL FOR GOLD (1971).

THE GAMBLING SYNDICATE (1975) aka DRUG GANG was a gambling action picture from award winning director, Chang Tseng Chai (FROM THE HIGHWAY, THE FUGITIVE, REDBEARD). Chang is notable for being the first director to shoot a film dealing with gambling (THE CASINO in 1972), a style of film that would gain enormous popularity in the coming years. This film stars Danny Lee as the determined police chief, Fang Ta who is after drug trafficker and gun smuggler, Cheng Tien Kuei (Ku Feng). Hiding his illegal operations behind the guise of a gambling den, police chief Fang arranges the co-operation of two convicts from the local prison to infiltrate the gang as spies. Their mission is to gain access to Cheng's safe which will likely contain the evidence to put Cheng and his gang away for good.

QUEEN HUSTLER (1975) is yet another gambling movie from Chang Tseng Chai, this one with an apparently sleazier edge than his previous epics. This film is another action-violent vehicle for Chen Ping, HK's then reigning 'Queen of Exploitation'. Here, she plays Ho Ming chu, the daughter of the widowed Ho Hsing fa. Upon gambling in a private club, run by the slimy Yang Li shan (Wang Hsieh), the elder Ho loses an incredible amount of money. Ashamed, he commits suicide by jumping to his death. After Ho's death, the gangsters set their sights on the dead man's daughter, Ming chu. Abducting her, Ming's boyfriend, Li Tu (Danny Lee), is seriously wounded attempting her rescue. The thugs then assault and rape Ming chu. Desiring revenge, Ming learns gambling tricks and uses her sex appeal to kill Yang and his murderous cronies.

Above and below are a couple of lobby cards for two unreleased to DVD Shaw Brothers sex films. One is a Li Han Hsiang erotic period sex film entitled WEDDING NIGHTS (1976). The lobby set showcase the level of bare female flesh in this film and this card, like a few others, shows off the charms of HK's 70s 'Queen of Exploitation', Chen Ping.

This is some kind of murder mystery/sex film entitled THE NOTORIOUS FRAMEUP (1978). All the cards in the set display nudity. Antonio Ho (GHOST EYES, SEXY KILLER, THE CRIMINALS) has a lead role here.

As a bonus, here's a couple of early 70s Shaw Brothers flyers advertising a few of their productions between 1970 and 1972.

Next up, it's a 'Gorgeous Ladies of Shaw' edition with the first being a piece on swordswoman supreme, Cheng Pei pei! For more magazine clippings, rare photos, pictorials and other images of Shaw Brothers stars and their movies, check the 'Columns' section of the site for 'Shaw Brothers Cinema: Behind the Scenes'. I moved it from the 'Articles' section. There's so far 20 posts to choose from now.



Fang Shih-yu said...

Another great grab-bag of rare pictures, venoms5!

It looks like Kuei Cheh-hung wanted to expand upon the scene with the motorcycles in The Delinquent when he made Killers on Wheels! Any idea what were the problems he had with the police during the making of the picture?

Looking forward to the "Gorgeous Ladies of Shaw" material!

venoms5 said...

Most likely it was obtaining permits to shoot in the streets. There was mention in another magazine about difficulty in obtaining permits shooting certain sequences on city streets. Knowing Kuei, he likely was pushing boundaries. Chang Cheh mentions Kuei's propensity for capturing brutality and realism in pain such as refusing to allow an injured performer to be taken away to hospital after a motorcycle accident till he got the takes he wanted in detailing the injury!

I think THE DELINQUENT was supposed to have been loosely affiliated with Cheh's youth series. The tentative title was THE VIOLENT YOUTH or something along those lines. At least it seems to have been made as a more gritty response to the ones CC was doing, or overseeing at the time.

I'm going through stuff for the 'Ladies' piece right now.

Fang Shih-yu said...

Chang Cheh sounds like a pussycat, compared to Cheh-hung!

Did Cheh's statement about Cheh-hung and the injured motorcycle driver convey if he was shocked by how Cheh-hung reacted? Today's directors wouldn't be able to get away with that stuff!

venoms5 said...

Yes, he was shocked about it. In his autobiography, he also mentions run in's he had with other directors, too, like Li Han Hsiang and Liu Chia Liang.

Also, from what I've read, When Ho Meng Hua was shooting MIGHTY PEKING MAN in India, Run Run Shaw was said to have stated he wouldn't pay for hospital accidents should someone get injured doing dangerous stunts such as fighting leopards and such while the crew was over there. I'll have to find that one. I think it was an interview with Evelyn Kraft actually.

Shaun [The Celluloid Highway] said...

An excellent gallery of rare images Brian...many thanks for these :-)

venoms5 said...

You're quite welcome, Shaun. There's many more throughout this column and more to come.

Fazeo said...

Wow fantastic images, those are some wild lobby cards! Thanks again venom.

venoms5 said...

Cool, glad you liked them, Fazeo! Hopefully, you'll like the next one, too.

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