Brothers Five (Wu hu tu long, 1970) begins as a fairly workmanlike wuxia story. A bad man is pointlessly abusive to an innocent man, in this case a harmless carriage driver.
A hero, Gua Wei (Yueh Hua), steps in with hokum swordplay that curiously has the "crack! crack! crack!" sound-FX other films reserve for punching & kicking rather than for sword fights.
But then the magnificent & beautiful Cheng Pei Pei appears & even just standing there doing nothing, she's ace. Her character is Yun Loi (or Yen Lai), daughter of Yan Hang Kong.
Gao Wei is after the Dragon Villa clan (or Teng Lung Manor gang). He's one of five brothers, sons of the late & famed Gao Shi Yu.
He & his four brothers Gao or Kao brothers have long gone their own ways, but must reunite to kill the bad guys & avenge their father. Cheng Pei Pei will tag along as an honorary sixth brother.
Among this array of heroic persons is the blacksmith, first-brother Gao Hao (Chin Han) who hates to kill but is good at it when the Dragon Villa men force him.
With his sledgehammer he makes downright fools of villainous swordsmen. But the childishness of the villains we encounter throughout the film pretty much guarantee the story will remain petty & uninvolving.
The gentlemanly & upright handsome second-brother Gao Zhi (Chang Yi) calls himself "nothing but a poor scholar," & scholar is probably all he would live to be if only heros were less essential.
Third-brother Gao Yung (practically using his own name, Kao Yuen) is youthful & modern in his attitude.
Yueh Hua playing the fourth brother co-stars as the male lead in several Cheng Pei Pei films or alongside other swordswomen characters.
Lo Lieh turns up playing fifth-brother, the thief Gao Xia who has great kung fu, is a good whip fighter & skilled with daggers.
There's lots of action while introducing the cast, but always in trivial context. So if you wanted a cool story & are not satisfied just to see Gao Zhi catch a knife in his teeth, prepare for disappointments.
Mostly through all this Cheng Pei Pei, the only reason to keep watching, just observes as the good guys take out the Dragon Villa gang a few here, a few there.
Having five heroes & one heroine does mean there's too little time to show everyone to advantage, & sadly its the heroine who gets her screen time short-shrifted.
There's a big fight at the end (whooda guessed) when Pei Pei finally gets to show her stuff. But for someone with first billing in the cast, she's like a guest star in her own film.
Nor is the choreography all that well managed (despite that Sammo Hung was the fight choreographer) so that her at-long-last fight scene feels no less assembly-line-wuxia as all the rest.
The revenge fight comes down to five against a single bad guy while Pei Pei sits it out. It goes on & on, climaxing with perhaps the dumbest ever acrobatic display of alleged invincibility. So this one's for Cheng Pei Pei completists only, among whom I am one.
Continue to next Cheng Pei Pei film:
Come Drink With Me, 1966
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl