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The Blood Brothers
Year: 1973
Director: Chang Cheh
Cast: David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chen Kuan-Tai, Cheng Lee
The Skinny: Three men who are as close as brothers are forced to endure the ultimate test of friendship when one of them gives in to corruption and his love for his brother's wife. Widely considered to be Chang Cheh's best film.
     The epic story from director Chang Cheh is told via flashback. The story picks up after we see Ma Hsin I (Ti Lung) has been killed by Chang (David Chiang). Chang tells his story to the court of how he and his brother Huang Chung (Chen Kuan Tai) met Ma during a conflict with some bandits on the road. The three of them quickly bonded and became best friends. However, Ma falls in love with Huang's wife Mi Lan (played by Cheng Lee) who reciprocates. Ma then leaves the group to join the Chinese Army.
     Some years later, Chang, Huang and Mi Lan are called by Ma to join him in the field. Upon their arrival, they discover that Ma has become a corrupt, power hungry general. Ma immediately commences a secret love affair with Mi Lan, and soon plots to kill Huang. Needless to say, the friendship of the three men takes a turn for the worse, leading a series of betrayals and wonderfully executed fight sequences.
     Ti Lung demonstrates his exceptional acting ability as the flawed Ma who starts out sympathetic but becomes almost completely unlikable by film's end. Blood Brothers was shot during the glory days of Shaw Brothers Studios and really looks it. The film is lavishly photographed using rich colors and mostly outdoor locations. The interior sets are strikingly detailed as are the costumes. Some people think that Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was the first kung-fu film to mix great production values and choreography with a great story and romance. Blood Brothers did it years earlier, as did many of Chang Cheh's other classic films.
     Although it is difficult to watch the charismatic Ti Lung play a bad guy, Blood Brothers is not to by missed if you are even a little curious about classic Shaw Brother's kung-fu. Hopefully SB will release their library remastered on DVD very soon as the true scope and beauty of a movie like this will not be fully appreciated until then. (Magicvoice 2002)
     Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen