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南拳北腿 (1976)
The Secret Rivals

Reviewed by: steve_cole1
Date: 05/27/2007
Summary: Classic Kung Fu

Another Classic Kung Fu Film I got this on the basis that Hwang Jang Lee is in it and the fights in this film are good but wish he was in it more. Good film on the whole

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 07/02/2006
Summary: Nice legwork

Two Chinese fighters (Wong Tao and John Liu) separately converge on a small town in Korea where they set up residence in a local inn. Sheng Ying-Wei (Wong Tao) is attending a martial arts competition held by the corrupt prince to find himself a new bodyguard. Shao Yi-Fei (John Liu) watches proceedings from a distance. Both men are drawn to the innkeeper’s daughter, sparking rivalry when Shao sends her a brooch and Sheng unwittingly takes the credit. The prince, meanwhile, has a visit from the Silver Fox (Hwang Jang Lee); a bad sort indeed. Our two heroes’ interest is then piqued and we find the real reason they’re in town.

Secret Rivals is a fast-paced kicking showcase. There’s hardly a moment when someone isn’t doing something nasty to someone else. While it’s true that at times both leads look like they’ve just stepped out of a Bruceploitation movie (Wong Tau even has a blistering nunchaku scene in the latter half of the film), there are enough fresh ideas thrown in the pot to keep things boiling along nicely. In fact, it may be a case that there’s too much action in this, as it can seem a bit strange when people start fighting at the drop of a hat without so much as a cursory exchange of words.

When you’ve got two great kickers in one film (Hwang Jang Lee and John Liu), it’s always going to be a bit special. Kicks are much more aesthetically pleasing, I find. I have to admit I’ve never seen Liu in anything else and I know absolutely nothing about him. Hwang Jang Lee debuts here, and of course he went on to bigger (and badder!) things with the director of this film, Ng See-Yuen.

Secret Rivals is an enjoyable, cheap-and-cheerful kind of film from Seasonal Films, and should be seen by those with a keen interest in good legwork. However, the script shows a lot of promise that doesn’t really pay off in a satisfactory way, and a lack of a sound structure to the film stop it short of being an all-time classic.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 03/25/2004

A classic! Wang Tao plays Shen Yi Wei, the son of a General, who travels to the Gold Valley in Korea, to investigate a gold heist that took place 3 years ago. Shen Yi Wei finds out that the only way that he can get closer to the Gang that robbed the gold is by entering a competition sponsored by the Gang Leader, a King, who is looking for a top gung fu fighter to become his bodyguard. A long the way, Shen Yi Wei, meets this "Secret Rival" with an agenda himself. Together, Shen Yi Wei and his "Secret Rival", hook up to take on the Silver Fox (Hwang Jang Lee), a nasty mutha, who was part of the crew that heisted the gold. Great movie with an excellent final fight.

Reviewed by: magic-8
Date: 04/23/2003
Summary: Secret to Success

Ng See Yuen's "Secret Rivals" has been placed on many a list of noted martial arts movies from the 70s. Ng would later gain world wide renown with "Snake in the Eagle's Shadow" and "Drunken Master," heralding the new age of hand-to-hand combat/kung fu films, post Bruce Lee. "Secret Rivals" starts out slowly as it introduces the main players, Don Wong Tao, John Liu Chung Liang and Hwang Jang Lee ("Secret Rivals" was the first film for both Liu and Hwang). Wong and Liu get caught in the green eyes of jealousy, sidetracked in a tangential romantic triangle. It isn't until the showdown that it becomes clear that both Wong and Liu, representing the Southern Fist and the Northern Leg, respectively, seek revenge against Hwang.

The plot is a bit muddled and the story line drifts from the central focus, but when the main characters duke it out, there is no doubt about why "Secret Rivals" has become a favorite of many. High-flying, leg kicker extraordinaire, Hwang Jang Lee makes an impressive debut as the Silver Fox and easily dispatches Wong and Liu. It isn't until the two team up to combine the Northern Leg and Southern Fist that Liu and Wong have a chance to take down Hwang Jang Lee.

Although the filmmaking techniques are somewhat primitive by today's standards, "Secret Rivals" displays some fresh and innovative methods to editing and choreographing marial arts fight scenes with intricate hand movement and fierce kicking. The success of "Secret Rivals" spawned a sequel and gave viewers a taste of martial arts combat that would help to define the era and the way we see and appreciate kung fu-inspired films today.