|Seven Steps of Kung Fu (1979)|
|Director:||Ting Hwa Chung|
|Starring:||Ricky Cheng, Chai Kai, Chen Shan, Tommy Lee, and Lung Fei|
The cast assembled for the film may not be Gordon Liu or Lo Lieh, but for a cheap production such as this, we get a decent number of memorable faces. In fact, many viewers may find themselves scratching their heads and wondering where they know the actors from. Chai Kai plays the white-haired villain (isn’t there always one?) and he is an actor that may not be memorable, but he has credits that include The Hot, The Cool, and the Vicious as well as Shanghai 13. Tommy Lee, the martial arts actor not the drummer, also shows up playing one of the key members of the Five Hands Gang. Viewers who have dipped their feet into some of these lower budgeted Kung Fu titles may remember him from the aforementioned Hot, Cool, and the Vicious, but also from The Secret Rivals. Lee is a reliable hand (or foot, as it were), and as soon as he steps onto the screen he makes the movie at least ten points cooler.
Like any decent kung fu venture, there is a simplistic narrative at its heart. However, like many other kung fu vehicles, it becomes needlessly complicated by subplots, multiple characters, and a dead zone in terms of character motivation. Due to this, the narrative becomes rather clumsy at times. One of the best examples comes at the tail end of a very long scene of exposition by the Five Hands Gang. Before this sequence, the audience is treated to a bit where Ricky Cheng defeats one of the Five Hands Gang members and ultimately takes his life. So, we then cut to our long speech by the Five Hands Gang, and one of their members turns around as the scene starts to conclude and announces “Our brother has been gone for a very long time! We should check on him!” We then immediately cut to a five second scene featuring the fallen member of the gang being discovered by another member. Then, to insure confusion, we smash cut right back to the same room in which all of the exposition just took place in, where the gang is then briefed about their fallen comrade. Instead of thinking of a wise way to squeeze this in, the filmmakers go with the cheapest and most direct way to navigate their plot that any person would dare to imagine.