Killers Five

Director: Cheng Kang (Ching Gong)

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Killers Five A tale of heroes vs bandits, Killers Five (Hao xia zhuan, 1969) is from the same director who helmed 14 Amazons (Shi si nu ying hao, 1972) & 12 Gold Medallions (Shi er jin pai, 1970).

For action-oriented wuxia, we get some fairly good character build-ups until fully five heros are accumulated, plus.

Our heroic "killers five" really should really be numbered six, but the initial five are as follows:

1) Ma Jing Ling (Ching Li), a great archer & swordswoman. 2) Climbing Tiger Niu (Ching Miao/Cheng Miu), a hero, boozer, hunter & axe-fighter.

3) Yue Zenbei (Ching Tang), eager to save kidnapped Cao Cui-o (Carrie Ku Mei) the daughter of a Duke Pingxi (Yeung Chi-hing) who will turn out to be corrupt.

Killers FiveThen we have 4) Brother Qi or Li Xiaoqui the Water Rat (Guk Fung). Water Rat is a comedic scam artist, boatman, & gambler who fights with an enormous trident, on the side of good despite himself.

Add these a leader, 5) Yue Zhenbei (Ching Tang), & that's three of the heroes plus one heroine gathered for adventure.

There is still an "odd man out" sixth about to arrive, though he'll remain somewhat an outsider with the group to partly justify his not being included in the film title's tally.

Killers FiveAnd we wonder that they are called the "killers five" rather than the "heroes five" since so far as killers go, there are a great many more who aren't heroic. Chalk it up to the limitations of translation.

They encounter a beautiful innkeeper (Lau Leung-wa) who is secretly the ferocious bandit queen. She orchestrates an effective assault against the heroes at her inn. Only the arrival of the fifth hero saves them.

Killers FiveHe is Liang Shen-fei the King of Burglary (Wang Kang Yuen or Wong Kwong-yue), a good guy in spite of his occupation, who can fight with an iron fan.

Liang claims his rule for life is he fights only for pay. When the four heroes can't meet his price, he goes to the side of the bandits -- or so it seems.

The heroes must get through terrible traps to reach the bandits' lair on Mount Jinlong.

The bandit leader Jin Tianlong (Tong Dik) is nearly invincible. Liang however knows "His only weakness is his eyes."

Throughout, the swordplay is largely down-to-earth hence more convincing than wire-fu.

Killers FiveIt is, however, a juvenile or young adult film with very simple plot, cutsie heroes, & not too awfully brutal for action-packed.

To reinforce its kiddy orientation there is some side-character mugging by the pretty young tomboy (Poon Oi Lun/Ai Lien Pan).

Gotta have a granny for the kids, too, so we get a grandmotherly performance from Ouyang Shafei as Yue Zhenbei's mother.

So too, Tien Feng provides a fatherly presence as the sifu master. If the kiddies would be hard pressed to demand more!

[SPOILER ALERT] However, there is real sacrifice, for Water Rat Qi is killed by a mysterious betrayer.

Killers FiveHis last wish is to be thrown in a river, because he's a water rat after all & will be able to float home. More tragedies will follow.

It's up to the remaining Killers to bring down the corrupt Duke in the final reel of sustained weapons action.

Axe man Niu goes down bravely. Bold Liang, too, falls in the fight, literally into the heroine's arms. By the end the villains have all fallen. Of the heroes, only the heroine has survived.

Those who did not make it to the end we're told sacrificed themselves "for good of the country," which isn't my idea of a soothing consolation. [END SPOILER ALERT]

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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