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Secret Rivals

1 rating: 3.0
Old school Hong Kong martial arts film starring Huang Cheng-Li, John Liu, and Don Wong-Dao

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Tags: Foreign Film, Martial Arts Film, And Don Wongdao, Huang Chengli, John Liu
1 review about Secret Rivals


  • May 1, 2009
Before we get into our story we're told about the nature of the Invincible Armor. It seems that once you've mastered this style, which is the most difficult to learn, you become all but impervious to swords and spears let alone the efforts of mere human beings. To accomplish this one learns to control air circulation throughout one's body through strenuous breath exercises. There are also 108 pressure points, 36 of which are fatal. There may also be an herbal bath involved of the type Fang Shih-Yu's mother gave him.

But our villain isn't that simplistic, because as the credits roll we also see that he's into Eagle Claw and we get a crash course on that as well, which I will spare you, except to say that it was developed during the Ming period by Yu Fei and concentrates its attacks on bones, muscles, sinews, and the more fragile joints. Our villain is the fearsome Huang Cheng-Li and he doesn't really need any of this stuff, but he's got it!

Well! Our story finally gets underway with General Chow Lu-Fung (played by John Liu) witnessing a lone man ward off an attack by a group of armed thugs. Impressed by the man's skill, the General introduces himself, asks the man's name, and inquires if he may see the sword the man had not even bothered to draw during the fight. The man, Hu Feng, claims to be a peasant, but the General says no mere peasant could fight that well.

The General is very impressed by the the peasant's skill and tells him that he is recruiting warriors to help the famous Mr Loo, the Minister of Royal Security, in his on going duties to defend the Ming dynasty. Hu Feng is honored and they both toast the long life of the Mings.

Some time shortly there after the General and Hu Feng call upon the Security Minister to see if Mr. Loo is as impressed with him as the General is. But all does not go as planned, for Hu Feng is really an assassin sent to kill Minister Loo and frame the General, and that is exactly what happens! The General escapes of course, and all the provinces are notified that he is a wanted man to be killed on sight. Worse yet Shen Yu (Don Wong-Dao) is brought in to hunt him down. He has a personal stake in this as well since he was very close to the Minister.

Okay, up to this point there's been a lot of exposition and precious few fights, but once the won tons hits the fan you will definitely stay awake because John Liu and Huang Cheng-Li are two of the most formidable old school fighters on the planet--and when you throw Do Wong-Dao into the mix you have something that is really worth watching. And, let's face it, that's what you're really here for. (I just always like to give a lengthy intro so that people know whether or not they have already seen a film.)

Now there has been some discussion about the quality of the Video Asia images in the fight scenes, specifically in regards to the speed. Some have said that the film speeds up, some have said that film slows down, some have reported a strobe light effect. I noticed nothing drastic, only a slight blurring in one of the early scenes which I might not have noticed at all if I hadn't been LOOKING for something strange. Otherwise I found the quality of the DVD to quite acceptable overall. I also found the movie to be 10 minutes longer than the box said it was, another Video Asia problem. Lengths on this film run from 90 to 101 to 110 minutes--its just the luck of the draw which one you get.

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May 04, 2009
John Liu..why does that name sound ssooo familiar? Sounds like this was mastered from a PAL source, which causes the dvd to slow down and some light effects. nice review. I will return shortly.
May 04, 2009
As I said, I can't say that I noticed any major problems with my copy. But of course I AM going blind...
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