REVIEW: 7-Star Grand Mantis (1983)

7stargrandmantis

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1983, Filmark International

Director:
Kim Seon-Gyeong
Producer:
Kim In-Dong
Writer:
Kim Se-Ho
Cinematography:
Yang Yeong-Gil
Editing:
Hyeon Song-Chun
Vincent Leung

Cast:
Benny Tsui (Tsui Kei)
Eagle Han (White Cane Beggar)
Song Jeong-A (The Water Seller)
Jang Cheol (Chow Chang)
Kwon Sung-Young (Chan)
Nam Po-Dung (Cook)
Lee Hee-Sung (Fatty)
Kang Myeong-Ja (Chan’s Mistress)

This Korean kung fu comedy is more comedy than kung fu and despite some good kung fu sequences, it is more lacking due to a hero who tends to be more goofball than heroic.

Chow Chang is an evil warlord who has preyed upon villages but only has had one adversary able to stop him: the White Cane Beggar. During a competition, Tsui Kei finds himself in trouble gathering pigs to get the prize money from local troublemaker Fatty. However, under the advice of a mysterious vagrant, Tsui Kei eventually gets the money but instead of making his promise to split the money, he runs off with the money only to be beaten up by Fatty and his thugs until the vagrant, who is the White Cane Beggar, helps.

Tsui Kei and the White Cane Beggar bond but get in trouble with Fatty’s boss Chan, who sends his men to embarrass the duo. Along the way, they run into a local water seller who makes them a deal to help her sell water. The two agree but when Chan attempts to woo the water seller, Tsui Kei’s interference costs him. He soon learns that the water seller was once attacked by Chan and his boss, the deadly Chow Chang. The White Cane Beggar also learns the news and decides to train the two in the “seven-star grand mantis” as well as open a local restaurant which becomes more successful than the one run by Chan’s mistress. When Chow Chang returns to town, chaos is likely to occur.

Originally a South Korean martial arts comedy called The Gay Woman from Shandong (revolving around Song Jeong-A’s character), Hong Kong’s Filmark International would get the film, retitle it as 7-Star Grand Mantis and give their own credits. Of course, the film has no titular kung fu art but relies more of the art of taekwondo with some impressive kicking at times. However, the issue with the film is that it is more comedy than kung fu and the action is a mixed bag that at one point goes on the ridiculous level.

Benny Tsui, who is known in his native Korea as Seo Beyong-Heon, attempts to look like a Jackie Chan like figure. However, while he has the martial arts skills to match, the film doesn’t really give him a chance to show his skills as much as one would hope. Instead, he constantly gets beaten up and resorts to unbelievable tactics to stop the main villain of the film. Veteran Eagle Han does quite well as the mentor to Tsui’s mischievous student, unleashing his skills at the most opportune times. Despite a bit of comic relief, when Han fights, then he really delivers as does Kwon Sung-Young as Chow Chang’s right hand man Chan, who has some impressive kicking skills of his own as seen in the film’s opening credit sequence and subsequent fight scenes.

7-Star Grand Mantis could have been quite the kung fu comedy but with a hero who is more of a buffoon than able-bodied fighter (which is not his fault) and a finale that is borderline ridiculous, this should be seen just for curiosity purposes. But don’t expect anything spectacular.

WFG RATING: C-

DVD

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