|The Secret Rivals (1976)|
|Director:||Ng See Yuen|
|Starring:||John Liu, Hwang Jang Lee and Don Wong Tao|
|The Plot: In Korea, a powerful lord, who is of Chinese descent, has established a massive martial arts tournament. The plan is to get the world’s greatest fighters together and see just who is the most dominant. When they declare a winner, they promise to use this fighter as a bodyguard for the rich lord. Unfortunately, the winner will then have the crosshairs turned right back on him. It seems that the evil Silver Fox (Hwang Jang Lee) has paired with this Chinese lord, and they are hoping to get away with murder once the winner is announced. This tournament inevitably draws in a slew of strangers, and it seems that no one is able to keep up with the influx of new faces. Amongst this crowd is Shao Yi-Fei (John Liu), a stranger with kicking abilities far outside of the normal, and Shang Ying Wai (Don Wong), who is a deceptively strong fighter that seems to be able to absorb nearly any strike. When Shang Ying Wai enters the tournament, he does so only to prove a point to the brash European champion who has entered. After this lesson is taught he intends to dismiss the bodyguard position, but the Chinese lord is quite persuasive. When he finally agrees, it turns out that he must meet the Silver Fox. It seems that both Shang Ying Wai and Shao Yi-Fei both have issues with this Silver Fox as well, but will they ever manage to work together in order to defeat him?|
The movie features the right balance between intrigue and gimmicky nonsense. The story, for the most part, is actually very interesting. Although it can seem a bit episodic, what with the whole tournament concept used during our introduction before being quickly dismissed, the story by itself is full of interesting developments. We have this political background, with the lord planning on using Don Wong’s character as a assassin and the intentions of double crossing him, while also throwing in the vengeance motif for John Liu’s character as well. There are two or three stories flowing throughout the script that manage to work entirely on their own, but when compiled with the outrageousness of Hwang Jang lee’s “Fox” clan, it becomes a very strange mix that probably should not work but still manages to do so. The love triangle that is focused on early into the movie would be one of the few weak links in the chain, but aside from these mild confusions the story is dramatically simple but deceptively complex.