|The Invincible Armor (1977)|
|Starring:||Hwang Jang Lee, John Liu and Phillip Ko|
|The Plot: John Liu plays General Chow, a well respected military man who has been placed on guard duty around one of the leaders of the Ming rebels. The Manchu’s Minister of State, a monster by the name of Cheng (Hwang Jang Lee), sends out his most trusted student, Hu Lung, to infiltrate the rebellion and assassinate the aging rebel leader. He does this by winning a fight in front of Chow and impressing him with his martial skill, which causes him to bring him inside of the compound in order to meet the Ming rebel leader. The old man, once he hears of this fantastic fight, immediately wants to have a fun sparring session with the student. During the midst of this sparring session however, Hu Lung lets his intentions out of the bag and kills the old man. General Chow is then accused of committing the murder and must flee in order to prove his name as honorable. To do this he’ll have to catch Hu Lung and then he’ll have to take on Cheng, but this won’t be easy because Chen practices the Invincible Armor technique. This technique makes him invulnerable to any attack, even from knives and swords. How will General Chow prove his name and what will he do to combat this Invincible Armor?|
Director Ng See-Yuen certainly knew that he had a winning ticket when he placed these two on screen together. He was actually the man responsible for bringing Hwang Jang Lee to the Hong Kong film industry in the first place, in fact. He started off Hwang Jang Lee’s career by helping him land pivotal roles in the early Jackie Chan classics Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master, but also featured him in several notable titles that featured both he and John Liu. These two A-Class kickers don’t get to spend a tremendous amount of time on screen with one another, but once the final showdown rolls around you can expect fireworks. Their utterly bizarre final fight sequence is easily THE reason to actually track down this movie. As we watch on, we see a martial artist trying earnestly to smack another man in the testicles and at this point it should dawn on you as a viewer that this movie has lost some of its credibility as a serious piece of drama, but has delved down into the world of strange and hilarious cheesy action entertainment. That certainly seems to be my interpretation of the film at least.
A Kung Fu independent, The Invincible Armor looks good for what it is. There are a few decent sets throughout, but much of the action seems to take place outside which was obviously the cheaper and more effective way of shooting things for a limited production. Ng See-Yuen does a good job of keeping the action perfectly centered and he provides a visual palette that doesn’t show off the limited means of his production. Ng See-Yuen certainly knew what his audience wanted to see. Lots of action and lots of mythology, with the invincibility gimmick being focused on along with a near invincible version of Eagle Claw Kung Fu. There are also a few small touches throughout the movie that I found entertaining, such as small moments when various important characters are introduced and the camera free-frames on their face. The only thing that could have made the idea more entertaining would be if there was a subtitle that could have popped up with a character’s name to go along with it. Quite possibly there might have been such a thing in the initial release of the movie, who is to say?