Brave Archer, The (1977)

Reviewed by Ken Hashibe
August 25, 2014


Alexander Fu Sheng • Tien Niu • Phillip Kwok • Ku Feng • Johnny Wang Lung-Wei • Danny Lee • Lee Yi-Min • Dick Wei
Kung Fu Warlord
Chang Cheh
Lee Ka-Ting • Robert Tai
Version reviewed was in widescreen format. Mandarin language with English subtitles.
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Guo Jing (Fu Sheng) and his sworn brother, Yang Kang, are separated while infants after the Jin invaders attack their parents. Their masters vow that after 18 years, they will meet each other and their students will have a duel. Over those 18 years, Guo Jing turns out to be a slow learner while Yang Kang has become a royal heir. Guo Jing falls in love with a “supposedly” evil girl, Huang Rong (Tien Niu), who travels with him as they learn different fighting techniques from various teachers. Based on Jin Yong’s classic novel, The Legend of the Condor Heroes.
thoughts on the movie

So much happens in this movie and so many characters are introduced that it’s hard to keep track of what’s going on. Heck, it’s actually a bit intimidating, but the masterful storytelling by Chang Cheh is fantastic. Though this is a kung fu movie, the focus is less on the action and more on the characters. The movie doesn’t really end with a climactic battle, but instead a battle of wits which ends up being satisfying nonetheless. The music by Frankie Chan really adds to the movie, making it more affecting. Despite a crammed story, The Brave Archer is highly recommended and gets you excited for Part 2.

was it funny?
No. There’s not much unintentional comedy either. Tien Niu can be bafflingly adorable at times and I’m sure that there are some funny lines in the original English dub which is thankfully provided on the Tokyo Shock DVD. There’s an obviously fake snake in the movie which can amuse a few people, but then you’d realize that they probably couldn’t have filmed that scene with a real snake anyway. And it probably wouldn’t go very well with PETA.
How was the Action?

For the time being, the action was really good, but it can’t compare with many movies that came out in subsequent years. But because we care so much for the characters, the action is still very exciting. To give the movie credit, the fight scenes are pretty complex and are probably things that I can’t easily do. Mainly, I think that the highlights of the film are the training scenes. They’re very interesting and satisfying to watch. Wire-haters beware!

Standout performance(s)

I don’t think I need to say who the standout performer is, but I will anyway. It’s no surprise that this is Fu Sheng’s movie. Fu Sheng is probably my favorite actor from Hong Kong because he’s versatile, funny, and the highlight of every movie he’s in. He seems to be a very good representation of the childish, playful youth, but can also play things very seriously in movies like Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984). Movies like Cat Vs. Rat (1982), Treasure Hunters (1982), and Hong Kong Playboys (1983) were meant to be the beginning of his comedic career instead of his more favored kung fu stardom. Unfortunately, he couldn’t continue this streak for he had died in a car accident in 1983. It really is a shame because had he lived longer, he potentially could have been as popular as Bruce Lee internationally. It really is a shame he died so young, but we still have his films preserved for us to admire for years to come, including this one.

Watch or Pass
6 Reasons Why You Should WATCH or PASS On This Movie
1. WATCH for the interesting training scenes.
2. WATCH for Fu Sheng.
3. PASS because the story’s pretty crammed together.
4. WATCH for Fu Sheng.
5. PASS if you’re a wire-hater.
6. WATCH for Fu Sheng.

Remember how I said that this movie gets you excited for Part 2? Well, Part 2 hasn’t been released on DVD in the U.S. which is pretty unfortunate. It doesn’t make much sense either considering that this movie ends on a cliffhanger. The only (legal) way to watch Part 2 in the U.S. is by buying an import of IVL’s DVD/VCD. The only sequel legally released on DVD in the U.S. was the fourth film, The Brave Archer and His Mate (1982).

Though Ti Lung is in the opening credits, he does not appear in the rest of the film. He only appears in Part 3. Nau Nau and Gigi Wong would replace Tien Niu in the sequels. Tien Niu would later appear in Shanghai, Shanghai (1990), The Magnificent Scoundrels (1991), and more recently, Love Lifting (2012) and Romancing in the Air (2012).