The Hand of Death

1976 [CHINESE]

Action / Drama

IMDb Rating 6.1 10 1506

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
July 21, 2021 at 09:12 AM



Wah Yuen as Bodyguard
Biao Yuen as Arrow Guard
Sammo Kam-Bo Hung as Officer Tu Ching
John Woo as Scholar Cheng
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
891.34 MB
Chinese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 37 min
P/S 3 / 10
1.62 GB
Chinese 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 37 min
P/S 2 / 9

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by kwhuneycutt 7 / 10

Underrated Woo Film

The Hand of Death aka Countdown in Kung Fu (1976) is a vastly underrated early work by director John Woo. The film stars Dorian Tan (Tan Tao-liang) and features Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and James Tien in significant supporting roles. Many people believe, or have been lead to believe by deceptive advertising, that this is a Jackie Chan film. This is not a Jackie Chan film, Dorian Tan is the star but Jackie gives one of his best (most serious) early performances.

The Hand of Death is about a Shaolin disciple named Yunfei (Tan) who is sent on a mission to assassinate a Shaolin traitor named Shih Xiaofeng (Tien) and protect a revolutionary named Zhang Yi (Woo). Along his journey Yunfei meets up with a young woodcutter named Tan (Chan) and a disgraced sword fighter (Chang Chung) known as "the wanderer." Both men have suffered at the hands of Shih and want to take revenge. The three team up to defeat Shih and his eight bodyguards and escort the revolutionary to safety.

The martial arts action is above average under the direction of Sammo Hung. Dorian Tan uses his trademark high kicks very effectively as the "Northern eighteen styles kicks" along with some "Southern five styles boxing." Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan provide excellent martial arts performances as well. James Tien is not the greatest martial artist on the Jade screen but does an acceptable job. Some of the early fights are a bit slow and seem over choreographed but the final showdowns featuring Chan, Tan and Hung are very good.

Director John Woo provides plenty of interesting character development in the film, which is refreshing. The cinematography by Leung Wing Kat is very stylish, unique and beautiful for a kung fu film of this era. Joseph Koo's music: a combination of soft flutes and 70's "Shaft" style orchestral pieces is kung fu cinema at its best. Hand of Death is not Jackie and Sammo's usual kung fu comedy. Hand of Death is a serious, straightforward revenge driven story.

Hand of Death aka Countdown in Kung Fu is an underrated classic in the old school kung fu genre. The film is one of the best artistically of its time and a preview of the great things to come from Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung. Hung's great choreography is put on display here before his directorial debut and Chan's early charisma and talent can be clearly seen.

Hand of Death is a solid, stylish old school kung fu film and a brilliant early work of the legendary John Woo.

Kung Fu Genre Rating 7.5/10

Wanderer to Tan (referring to his new weapon): "The Little Eagle Wing God Lance."

Tan: "Just a knickknack."

Reviewed by BA_Harrison 7 / 10

Chan, Hung, Woo, Baio and Wah.

Old-school martial arts 'classic' Hand of Death has a rather formulaic 'men on a mission'-style storyline, its high-kicking hero Yun Fei (Tao-Liang Tan) teaming up with several other skilled fighters to deal a blow to the evil Ching dynasty by killing traitor Shih Shao-Feng (James Tien), while protecting a revolutionary named Zhang Yi, who is carrying a map vital to the anti-Ching cause.

But although the plot isn't all that inspired, the film will undoubtedly still prove of interest to avid Hong Kong movie/kung fu fans thanks to its director, Wu Yu Sheng, better known as John Woo, and the involvement of several performers who would go on to be major players in the Asian martial arts movie scene, most notably superstar Jackie Chan, who appears in a supporting role as vengeful brother Tan Feng, and Sammo Hung (sporting hilarious fake buck teeth) as Ching henchman Lord Du.

Eagle-eyed viewers may also spot Yuen Baio as the guard killed with an arrow by Shih Shao-Feng, and Yuen Wah (my favourite martial arts villain of the 80s) as a bodyguard. I didn't.

As far as the action is concerned, Woo handles his fight scenes competently but with few of the stylish touches that he would later become known for (there's minimal use of slo-mo and absolutely zero doves in churches). The martial arts involves a variety of styles and weaponry, enough to ensure that boredom never sets in, but in the end it won't be the fighting that most people will remember this film for, but rather the burgeoning talent involved.

6.5 out of 10, rounded up to 7 for Sammo's teeth.

Reviewed by SamuraiNixon 7 / 10

Death only means there is a hole in my body

Early in John Woo's career as a director in Hong Kong, he had the auspiciousness to direct three of the seven fortunes in Yuen Biao, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung in their first movie together Hand of Death (1976: Chinese Title literally means Shaolin Gate) though much was not made of this at the time because they were all struggling to make a career. They have yet to work together again in such a capacity though they have said nothing but kind words about each other since. An interesting point, in hindsight, is that the star of the film is none of the three (it is hard to spot Yuen Biao as his role is of a stunt double and bit actor) but Korean export and Tae Kwon Do expert Dorian Tan Tao-Liang.

Dorian Tan Tao-Liang stars as Yun Fei a Shaolin trained fighter looking to find Zhang Yi (John Woo) and escort him through White Stone town and across the White River. Zhang holds a map of all Qing bases in the Guangdong and Guangxi provinces in southeast China. He can get a hold of Zhang by contacting pupil Chiu Guo. However, when he is found, he has already been arrested and ready to be beheaded by the Manchus led by a traitor of the Shaolin Shih Xiaofeng (ubiquitous bad guy James Tien: Fearless Hyena, Winners and Sinners) who has taught himself White Crane Soul Chaser Style (he is the titular Hand of Death). Even though his Kung Fu is superior, he has the additional help of Eight Bodyguards with different styles and two top ranking guards in Smiling Fox and Du Ching (Sammo Hung who also does the stunt coordination) whose overbite is quite preposterous and resembles a "hopping vampire" though he is trained in tiger and crane styles.

Yun Fei gets the assistance of a woodcutter Tan, who helped him earlier to get past a roadblock and dispose of a body (a true friend helps you get rid of a corpse). Tan's elder brother was killed by Shih's men. Tan also obtains the help of "The Wanderer" (Yeung Wai) an expert swordsman who accidentally killed a prostitute he was in love with also because of Shih and would have given up his sword for good if it was not for Yun. These men will help Zhang Yi get across the river to get the plans to help once and for all defeat the Qing Empire and restore the Ming Dynasty (the plot of the Qing Dynasty as bad guys is one of the staples of Hong Kong martial art movies like Heroes Two, Royal Tramp and Iron Monkey).

Many will have bought, borrowed or rented this movie because of the presence of Jackie Chan. He originally was only supposed to have a stunt man role (helped hired onto the film by his "big brother" Sammo Hung) but as John Woo found one of the Korean actors lacking in the physical department, he replaced his part with Jackie Chan and expanded his role according to an interview with Lee Server in "Asian Pop Cinema" he stated he "changed the whole script to focus more on him and show his great skill." though there might be some fraudulent hindsight with that statement. Jackie originally had been the stunt coordinator for Woo's first film Young Dragons (1975) that came out a year earlier. Jackie did get hurt on the film, getting knocked unconscious after being pulled by a cable while being kicked by Dorian Tan and landing and hitting his head on a rock (though this would not be as bad as his most famous accident in Operation Condor where he almost lost his life).

Others might watch this because it belongs in the oeuvre of John Woo. It is still very early in his career (his fourth film in two years of being a director), but you can see traces of his talent. There are some nice hand-held scenes, a little use of slow motion and hints of "heroic bloodshed" elements (though this would come to blossom in Last Hurrah for Chivalry (1979)) like an early scene when Jackie Chan and Dorian Tan first meet which seemed to hint a certain homoerotism (or else those were some of the most strange smiles I have ever seen), but then failed to capitalize on it later in the film.

Overall, this is a decent, yet unspectacular film. The direction is solid, yet it does not feel like a John Woo directed movie. The scenery of the Korean hillsides is absolutely beautiful and helps makes this movie easier to watch. The story is mediocre, but not too many glaring holes in the story. The Kung Fu ability is give or take. The kicking of Dorian Tan is beautiful to behold, his punching ability and forms are good but not great. Jackie Chan is also awesome with his fighting and you get to see him use a spear the Little Eagle God Lance as it is called in the film (which that and the staff are the traditional weapons that Jackie is best with). The highlight fight scenes of the movie are when Jackie fights several of the Eight Bodyguards and later when Dorian fights Sammo. The latter is especially impressive because of Sammo's willingness to hurt his body to make Tan look good. James Tien is not much of a martial artist, though his acting if fine as he is the consummate Hong Kong bad guy, so his hand-to-hand combat scenes are a bit pedantic though he has one scene wielding a sword that was good.

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