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KyFi

Shaolin Mantis (1978)

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*Spoilers follow*

Anyways, I just watched this again last week, and had two main thoughts:

1. Other than Lau Kar Wing, this wasn't really a top-notch cast of screen fighters---David Chiang, Cecilia Wong, Norman Chu, Lily Li. I like them all, but I would rank all of them as kind of "second tier" Shaw screen martial artists. That being said, to me the fights in this movie look as good as anything in any Shaw movie. I don't know if it was the choreography, or the camera angles and editing, or making them do a lot of takes, but everyone looks awesome in the fight scenes in this movie, IMO. I think LKL really got the best out of his cast in regards to fight scenes in this one, and to my eyes these fight scenes look just about perfect.

2. This is a really odd story. Who are you supposed to root for? David C. is kind of the hero, but he's working for the Qings, he's lying to his wife and her family, and his own father considers him a traitor and kills him in the end! Beautiful Cecilia Wong's character is so full of life, and boisterous and upbeat---it's really jarring to see her die---and at the hand of her own loving grandfather! Lau Kar Wing's character was kind of the bad guy, but then in the end he's presented as a Ming patriot. It's really a strange story line, IMO.

Any other thoughts on this one?

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Hmmm... before I make any definitive comments on the film, I want to state that I have not seen this film in probably 15 years. Having said that, I remember enjoying it quite thoroughly. I'm hesitant to comment on the fighting (although I remember the fights being pretty sweet... and isn't there a little Gordon Liu cameo in the beginning?).

The "hook" of the story (the hero being a villain) is one of the things that always stuck out to me as the selling point of the movie- It was a nice change of pace to have a Shaolin story told from the Q'ing side (well, sort of... it's not the actual Q'ings are portrayed as anything but evil), and I loved how Lau screws with your expectations. On some level, it almost seems like a Chang Cheh film, in that there is far more melodrama and pathos to the protagonists plight.

I DO remember watching it as a kid thinking "If David Chaing just TELLS the Grandpa what he's doing, they can figure something out!"

Still a definite change of pace, both in Chaing's onscreen fighting and Lau's storytelling. It may not be their best work, but it's definitely worth checking out!

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I love the film. David Chaing it seemed to me his Kung Fu (Physical skill) dramatically increased in his later period films (Mantis, Slice of Death etc.) While most of his later films for Shaw may not have been as well made as his earlier films (Ti-Lung period) or even as good dramatically, Chaing seemed to have improved in his execution of Kung Fu in general. Of course this is my opinion, but it may be the reason is one's skill in Kung Fu increases through one's practition and study over time.

As far as the story goes The Anti-Hero is one of my favorite aspects of Eastern storytelling. There is no reason given to dislike the family Chaing is spying on, I guess Chaings only redeeming quality is that he is the victim as well, his family will be executed by the ching if he does not return with his mission fufilled. So that would be the best reason for the end, his fathers actions being retribution for all the lives that were lost in this situation, a situaition the Ching created. The love story aspect made it all the more tragic. A tragic ending to a tragic story no one gets off here. Oh right except the Ching.

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I enjoyed the film. I knew the ending already, but I was hoping as I was watching it that things would turn out good for everyone. But the film really ends on a downer.

The only complaint I'd have is the fight between David Chiang and Gordon Liu and Lee Hoi San. They were played a little too much for laughs.

The overall story I think was basically a catch 22 for Chiang's family. He had no choice but to obey his 'bosses' because they were going to slaughter his family. In the end, nobody won. It's a sad story. I'm not quite sure about the message, if there was really any. It had some nice fighting, and that's why I liked it.

KFS

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My favorite LKL film so far. Mainly for the storyline and the overall darker tone.

It was a cool idea to set a servant of the Qing as a protagonist. He's no innocent baby, of course. His methods are pretty ruthless and he never loses sight of his main objective, that is to do the job he's been assigned and get the list of names. Still, he's a paragon of filial piety and were it not for the ending, also of loyalty to the throne.

One thing I disliked about the film was DC's character turning against the imperial guards at the very end. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be kind of a redeeming moment or not (it sure didn't work like one), but I would've preferred him to remain loyal to Qing till the end.

Pity LKL couldn't have done without the "evil Manchurian dogs" stereotype - but I suppose that was what the audiences expected.

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I guess you could draw the Iron Monkey comparison, except in Iron Monkey, Chen Kwan Tai was going after the people who killed his family and many people all over the place. Unfortunately, to prove himself, he had to kill innocent people, which is not exactly an ethical thing to do, to put it mildly. I'm don't recall if Lau Kar Wing's family was held responsible for mass murders. He was just seen as a threat to the Chings.

KFS

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David Chiang never really impress me in period piece martial arts film. David Chiang had such a western like swagger, that he was most enjoyable and charismatic in films like the singing killer, duel of the iron fist, duel of fists, etc, during this era. So Shaolin Mantis was never really one of my favorite. Lau kar leung is a good martial arts director, but his movies never really caught my attention, but this is coming from a huge Chang Cheh fan:smile:

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My favorite LKL film so far. Mainly for the storyline and the overall darker tone.

It was a cool idea to set a servant of the Qing as a protagonist. He's no innocent baby, of course. His methods are pretty ruthless and he never loses sight of his main objective, that is to do the job he's been assigned and get the list of names. Still, he's a paragon of filial piety and were it not for the ending, also of loyalty to the throne.

One thing I disliked about the film was DC's character turning against the imperial guards at the very end. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be kind of a redeeming moment or not (it sure didn't work like one), but I would've preferred him to remain loyal to Qing till the end.

Pity LKL couldn't have done without the "evil Manchurian dogs" stereotype - but I suppose that was what the audiences expected.

But DC wasn't being loyal to the Ching at all he was being loyal to his family, if there was no threat to his family then there was no way he would have gone through with the mission IMO. I love this film, it's so different to every other kung fu movie being made and the storyline is an interesting twist on the often used name list plot line. There is always a big plot hole in kung fu movies though, they always forget that it's good to talk and as 2tintoe said if only DC had told Grandpa what was going on they could have probably come up with a solution, oh well.

I don't agree that the cast were second tier martial artists, DC, Lily Li and Tsiu Siu Keung also teamed up for 2 of the best indie kung fu's ever made The Loot and The Challenger and showcase what they can do big style. Wilson Tong and John Chang have also starred in some great films and Wilson was also an assistant choreographer on Shaolin Mantis, this boy had talent. Cecilia Wong isn't a natural martial artist but if you see her in movies like Stranger from Shaolin and The Fairy, The Ghost and Ah Chung you can see she has a natural ability to pull off screen fighting, so I'd say LKL had a great cast to work with and used it well.

I'd say this movie was definitely one of my favourite Shaws, top 10 material.

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.........................oh no!!! :bigsmile:.This is back.Ironfistedmonk and I had a little cordial disagreement about the ambiguity and dilemma of David Chang's character in this movie.I would like to point out that all this was done in good faith and as Shaolin Mantis is one of Ironfistedmonk's favourite films I respect and value his views on the subject.

With any luck the link below was the thread on that topic.Scoll down to my 6th post.Hope it works.

http://www.kungfucinema.com/forums/showthread.php?p=69756#post69765

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.........................oh no!!! :bigsmile:.This is back.Ironfistedmonk and I had a little cordial disagreement about the ambiguity and dilemma of David Chang's character in this movie.I would like to point out that all this was done in good faith and as Shaolin Mantis is one of Ironfistedmonk's favourite films I respect and value his views on the subject.

With any luck the link below was the thread on that topic.Scoll down to my 6th post.Hope it works.

http://www.kungfucinema.com/forums/showthread.php?p=69756#post69765

:xd: I have a bad memory and repeat myself anyway, I have a bad memory and repeat myself anyway.

And your post is still too long to read through :wink:

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But DC wasn't being loyal to the Ching at all he was being loyal to his family, if there was no threat to his family then there was no way he would have gone through with the mission IMO.

My impression of the main character was that he was motivated largely but not solely by filial piety.

I may need to rewatch the film (and it's really more of an impression, anyway) but he didn't seem exactly offended by the idea that Ming loyalists should be dealt with. And he appeared fairly eager to prove himself, so to speak. (I've never really held it against him - made him more interesting in my eyes, to be honest.)

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I'm a big fan of the film. It has my all-time favorite "learning kung fu by watching an animal" sequence in it, and is IMHO the best that David Chiang ever looked doing kung fu.

I really enjoyed the playing around of expectations, and who's the hero plotline of the film. It added an atypical element to a film of this genre, and I thought that the building of the characters was well done too.

As others have mentioned, the plot hole was a bit distracting. But compared to the thousands of cookie-cutter "Our school is better than yours" and "you killed my master" plotted films, this is still a diamond in the rough.

And besides, all the speculation on motivations, plot, ect... Brother Lau is a total badass with a pipe, mantis style just looks so freaking cool, and the kung fu in this flick is cinematic gold! :xd:

On a semi-related note: I actually began raising preying mantises because I think they are such incredible creatures. I spread them in my own, and my family's and neighbor's gardens as they eat crazy amounts of destructive and annoying insects, and are not harmful to people. I always raise one or two in a big terrarium, and let them roam during the day in our big sunroom window. They will take crickets, meal worms, and other insects that I hand feed them. They are fascinating, wonderful little buggers! :wink:

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On a semi-related note: I actually began raising preying mantises because I think they are such incredible creatures. I spread them in my own, and my family's and neighbor's gardens as they eat crazy amounts of destructive and annoying insects, and are not harmful to people. I always raise one or two in a big terrarium, and let them roam during the day in our big sunroom window. They will take crickets, meal worms, and other insects that I hand feed them. They are fascinating, wonderful little buggers! :wink:

Just don't mess with them because they're kung fu is good!

KFS

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Just don't mess with them because they're kung fu is good!

KFS

We have two types in the wild in Africa one is light green and the other light brown.These mothers are really tough creatures.If they get accidently trapped in confined spaces you could here them flying and whacking the doors and windows very hard to find a way out.One has to be careful when trying to rescue them because they have the ability to fly/leap instantly with such force and vigour that if they hit your eye it hurts like mad and can cause injuries.They are nicknamed " Eye Goughers " in West Africa

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We have two types in the wild in Africa one is light green and the other light brown.These mothers are really tough creatures.If they get accidently trapped in confined spaces you could here them flying and whacking the doors and windows very hard to find a way out.One has to be careful when trying to rescue them because they have the ability to fly/leap instantly with such force and vigour that if they hit your eye it hurts like mad and can cause injuries.They are nicknamed " Eye Goughers " in West Africa

The blinking of the human eye can look like the movement of an insect to them, hence the "eye attacks". Smaller species, like the ones commonly found in the states aren't as brazen. Though I have seen footage of a full grown mantis catching and eating a humming bird!

I accidentally startled one of the mature ones, and he curled his back end up like a scorpion's tail, folded up his forelegs and spread them to the sides- to make himself appear bigger- and began to violently shake his upper body back and forth like a cobra! He did leap forward and nip my finger, but it didn't hurt. It sure surprised me though!

If it wasn't for mantids and spiders we would all be being bitten by swarms of mosquitoes right this second!

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Bob,

Your knowledge of Insects is almost on par with your knowledge of kung fu movies!!:xd:

Just watched a brilliant BBC doc on the exploration of the New Guinea rain forest, never explored by man...boy some of the giant insects they found including new species was amazing.....they even found a 5ft long new species of rat!!!

Anyhow back to the film, Shaolin Mantis is one of my favourites, the kung fu and weapons work is amazing, definitely one of David Chiangs best....

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Bob,

Your knowledge of Insects is almost on par with your knowledge of kung fu movies!!:xd:

Just watched a brilliant BBC doc on the exploration of the New Guinea rain forest, never explored by man...boy some of the giant insects they found including new species was amazing.....they even found a 5ft long new species of rat!!!

Anyhow back to the film, Shaolin Mantis is one of my favourites, the kung fu and weapons work is amazing, definitely one of David Chiangs best....

Thanks. As a kid, I considered being an entomologist for a while.

Sounds like a very cool documentary. Though, I know my wife would not like to hear about, nor see any 5 foot rats! :ooh: I tried to post some photos of my mantis pets, but ever since the last time the server was switched (or whatever) I can't post photos. :tinysmile_angry2_t: Very frustrating! There's one picture where "Little Lau" is climbing on a Godzilla figure, It's pretty funny. It looks like they're fighting.

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I agree with Ironfisted Monk on this. I don't think David Chiang was being loyal to the Ching either, he was being forced into this because he family was being threatened. If I remember right, he just wanted to get out of there with the information he was sent to get so that his family wouldn't be killed. He only goes after Lau Kar Wing, etc., to avenge the death of his wife. I really liked this movie, for the plot, the actor and the cast, but I gotta say--I sincerely could have done without that final scene, it really annoyed me, to say the least.

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kyfi, why is Liu Chia Yung a seeming miscast in your initial post? You could'nt have picked a more worthy lead in my opinion. This is one of the best. The ending, contrary to previous comments, is one of the best homages to weaponry in any kung fu film. One of the best in the genre.

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kyfi, why is Liu Chia Yung a seeming miscast in your initial post? You could'nt have picked a more worthy lead in my opinion. This is one of the best. The ending, contrary to previous comments, is one of the best homages to weaponry in any kung fu film. One of the best in the genre.

Hey vengeance,

Oh, maybe I didn't express my thoughts clearly. I was trying to say that I thought Liu Chia Yung was the ONLY one of the cast who was really in Shaw's top tier of screen fighters. Nope, I never have anything negative to say about that guy---one of my favorite Shaw actors and screenfighters (not to mention choreographer)!

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Even though it has been years since i've watched this, it is one of my favorite David Chiang films. This is one of those rare kung fu films i've seen where I enjoyed the story more than the action, and the action was great.

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