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photo of Chang Cheh
Born 2/10/23
Chang Cheh Site Logo
Last Site Update 1/29/08
photo of Chang Cheh
Died 6/22/02
When I first encountered kung fu movies, back in 1974, my favorites were The Fearless Fighters, The Karate Killers, and The Seven Blows of the Dragon (which was directed by Chang Cheh, but I didn't know who he was, at the time), but then I took tae kwon do for two years. Then, my favorites became The 36 Crazy Fists because of the buffoonery of the lead character's kung fu instructor (played by Ku Feng), Heroes of the East (a/k/a Challenge of the Ninja, a/k/a Drunk Shaolin Challenges Ninja) because nobody gets killed in the entire picture even though there's piles of high quality fighting on display, The Avenging Warriors of Shaolin (a/k/a Shaolin Rescuers) because I loved the characters, and Superninjas because the buttload of fights were excellent and the film was directed by the guy who directed The Avenging Warriors of Shaolin.

That's right; I had finally figured out that all those Shaw Brothers movies I had been seeing the same five actors (later known as "The Venoms" in fan parlance) in were also produced and directed by the same team: Mona Fong and Chang Cheh. Seemingly, these guys could do no wrong.

There are more than just a few people who, when they first encountered Chang Cheh's late 1970's films, scratched their heads and said to themselves, "Hey, if Bruce Lee is supposed to be the King of Kung Fu, why is it that this guy Chang Cheh's movies have more interesting fighting -- and more of it! -- and are made so much better?" Well, twenty years later, the Venoms films are referred to as "Old School Kung Fu" or simply "The Good Old Days," while Bruce Lee is, well, errr, Bruce Lee (to be kind). Frankly, I always found esoteric weapons-fighting more interesting than hand-to-hand combat, so, for me, Chang Cheh (and his frequent choreographer Liu Chia-liang [aka Lau Kar Leung) and his "Venoms" team delivered terrific fights scene and after scene in each and every movie they appeared in. Basically, what I had first seen in The Seven Blows of the Dragon came to mature fruition in the Venoms films.

I have to admit to having a tremendous liking for the Venoms-period Chang Cheh films -- including those with Fu Sheng (I guess I'm in the minority for liking Chang Cheh's films more than those of Lau Kar Leung), so I'm dying to find out what his "Baby Venoms" films are like. So far, I have seen Hidden Hero, but if anyone has seen any of the others, can describe what they are like, or has any leads concerning where to get some on videotape or DVD, please contact me.

And just to make sure you don't get the wrong idea and think that I have a one-track mind regarding Chang Cheh: other favorite martial arts directors/choreographers of mine are King Hu, Liu Chia-liang, Yuen Woo-ping, (Corey) Yuen Kwai, Samo Hung (a/ka Sammo Hung a/k/a Hung Kam-bo) -- and with reservations, Wong Jing, because he directed my favorite kung fu movie, Kung Fu Cult Master, which I like just a wee tiny bit more than Superninjas (because of Cheung Man in two roles as Jet Li's mother and the Queen of the Jinxes, and because of Chingmy Yau as Jet's doofy warrior maid).

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This page first created 2/26/00. Copyright Steven Feldman, 2001, 2008 & 2010. Last update: 6/15/10.