Monday, 30 August 2010

Hell'z Windstaff (1979)

This week I'm kicking it old school and reviewing the cult classic that is Hell'z Windstaff. Released in 1978, Hell'z Windstaff was one of those independently produced martial arts films that, while not really making a big mark on the Hong Kong box office, would go on to become a bona fide cult favourite among fans of the genre. It's cult status is cemented in the fact that rap group Wu-Tang Clan (Themselves huge Kung Fu movie fans) have a track on the album Liquid Swords named after the flick.

Based on the long running Jademan (A.K.A Dragon Tiger Gate) comic series the plot revolves around two young mischievous trouble makers Tiger Wong (Meng Yuen Man) and Stone Dragon (Meng Hoi) who discover the people from their home town are being sold into by local gangsters headed by the deadly Lu (Master kicker himself Hwang Jang Lee) when Tiger and Stone end up killing one of Lu's men in a fight, Lu himself retaliates by murdering Tiger's father and Kung Fu Master. The two friend then band together and improve their fighting skills and set out to get revenge on Lu.

Hell'z Windstaff has and always will be one of my all time favourite old school martial arts films. The film doesn't take itself too seriously and offers a copious amount of fist to foot action and painful looking training sequences. It helps that we have Meng Yuen Man and Meng Hoi in the leads as both of them get to show their skills and also show off that they're not bad actors. Unfortunately both of them never really managed to get leading man status later on in their career. Although Meng Hoi would go on to be a player in several Sammo Hung productions including Warriors Two and Pedicab Driver (Both of which, have, of course been ear marked for review at some point). Sadly Meng Yuen Man was forced to retire after suffering an almost fatal heart attack in 1982. Despite that Hell'z Windstaff is a great showcase of their talents as martial arts exponents. Moving from the leading men to the leading villain. Any self respecting Martial Arts fan knows who Hwang Jang Lee is.

For those not familiar Hwang Jang Lee is a Korean Tae Kwon Do expert and former martial arts instructor for the Korean and South Vietnamese military (Where legend has it he killed a man during a one on one fight) before getting involved with the movie industry. Early appearances in movies like Snake In The Eagle's Shadow and Secret Rivals made him much in demand and he would go on to appear in the some of the most popular and sought after fight flicks ever put on film. Here he gets to show his almost superhuman like kicking skills and also gets the rare opportunity to do some weapons fighting but it's when he's up against the heroes of the movie he goes into overdrive and we're treated to one of the most furious fights Hwang Jang Lee has ever recorded.

So, there's not much to Hell'z Windstaff, in fact most of the time movies of this period didn't offer a whole lot apart from some insane kung fu action and this flick maintains that status quo quite well. So, if you haven't check it out yet, get a hold of the DVD if you can cos this an absolute must see for any fan of old school kicks.  

1 comment:

  1. One of the most furious fights HJL ever recorded? Insane kung fu action? Oh man, I have this and never watched it, and I'm gonna watch this TONIGHT! :)