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Magnificent Bodyguards
cast: Jackie Chan, Bruce Liang, James Tien, and Ping Wang

director: Wei Lo

99 minutes (15) 1978
widescreen ratio 1.78:1
Hong Kong Legends DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Trudi Topham
This is almost an average Hong Kong action flick from the 1970s. There's a list you go through when putting together a movie in an industry that pumps out 20 of the things every week, and Magnificent Bodyguards (aka: Fei du juan yun shan) ticks all the boxes. You have the land's best martial artists on a quest through dangerous territory, there's the wicked old king of the bandits played by a young guy wearing a white wig, and plenty of wonderfully choreographed fight scenes. Most directors would've left it there, and that would've given me very little to say. Five out of ten, job done, I'm off to the pub thank you very much.

Wei Lo (who has given us films such as Fist Of Fury, Attack Of The Kung Fu Girls, and To Kill With Intrigue) evidently likes to tick boxes before going on to play with the formula. Here this means you get a skilled swordsman who regularly threatens to skin people alive for so much as looking at him funny, bouffant wigs that make half the cast look like Elvis Presley, a deaf leather repairman whose disability saves everyone's lives without ever being used for comic effect, and (rare from this era) Jackie Chan playing something other than a smug teenager who has to go through personal tragedy to learn responsibility. Oh, and for some unknown reason, a blast of Star Wars' Imperial March toward the end that works strangely well.

The story is relatively simple. Lord Ting Chung (Jackie Chan) is hired to escort a wealthy businesswoman and her sick brother through bandit-controlled mountains. The cure lies on the other side, and her brother has only three days to live. Ting Chung insists on taking two other martial artists with him on the perilous journey (the ever-fabulous James Tien, and Leung Siu-Lung), and away they all go. Naturally there are many encounters with bandits en route, the businesswoman hides her true motive for the journey, and the good guys ultimately win by kicking everyone's ass.

It's not a film to watch again and again, but it's well worth a watch just the once. There are no extras on the disc, bar some trailers for other Hong Kong Legends releases, but that's par for the course with this label.

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