Director: Sun Chung
Starring: Ti Lung, Alexander Fu Sheng, Feng Ku, Eddy Ko, Wang Lung-wei
Two strangers meet in the desert and they don’t get off on the right foot. When Chik Ming Sing (Ti Lung) steals the horse of the stranger (Alexander Fu Sheng), he figures that’ll be the last he’ll see of the unknown traveler. What he doesn’t expect is that he will catch up to him, just as Chik’s pursuers do as well. Helping to fight off the attackers, Fu Sheng’s character proves himself to be a formidable fighter. Turns out Chik is a former member of the Iron Fan gang, a group of brigands notorious for their raids and bloodthirsty methods. Under the leadership of the manipulative Yoh Xi Hung (Ku Feng), they leave a trail of bodies in their wake. When events cause the formerly loyal Chik to rebel against his leader, he finds himself the target of his former comrades. Now joining forces with this new ally, he may just have the way to defeat his former master, but exactly who is this unknown warrior that seems to have a history with this gang of vicious killers.
The film runs as a typical Shaw Bros. revenge picture, the beats are generally easy to follow and plot points are quite easy to figure out for even casual Shaw fans. The strength of the film lies in the chemistry of superstars Ti Lung and Fu Sheng. They share the screen fairly evenly and their exchanges, both with fists and words, are pretty entertaining throughout. The supporting cast is spread fairly thin, and though effort is made to differentiate his pursuers with different costumes and weapons, they never really stand out. There are a few familiar faces for the martial arts film fans, including Wang Lung Wei and a young Dick Wei. Ku Feng is a generally underwhelming villain for most of the film, at least until he takes part in the film’s penultimate fight scene. Overall it is a solid cast, though Ti and Fu Sheng command the screen.
Director Sun Chung provides solid direction and thankfully provides a number of long set pieces and well-choreographed scenes. Falling more towards a weapon based fight film, there are some great exchanges and sequences. Standouts include a bamboo forest fight and the great robbery scene about a third of the way through the picture. There is a lot of creativity in the action scenes which make up for the general predictability of the plot.
Avenging Eagle is one of the more entertaining martial arts films from Shaw Bros. With a workable plot and some great performances from two of the era’s biggest stars, it transcends the ‘forgettable’ pitfall that has become the norm with so many martial arts films from the 70s and 80s. Featuring great fight scenes, inventive choreography, and probably one of the coolest weapons ever in a kung fu film, Avenging Eagle is a solid addition to any action film collection. While not necessarily offering much in terms of plot, it is very entertaining and a lot more fun than most revenge films of the same ilk.
You may enjoy this film if you enjoyed: 14 Amazons, Five Shaolin Masters, and The Kid With the Golden Arm