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  Flash Legs, The The Shoe Is On The Other Foot
Year: 1977
Director: Ma Wu
Stars: Tao-liang Tan, Lo Lieh, Hop Wang, Fei Lung, Sha Fei Au Yeung, Fu Hung Cheng, Hung Choi, Elvis Tsui
Genre: Martial Arts, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Eight Dragons are a criminal gang who have learned the location of a map to a hoard of treasure, and tonight they are putting their plan to steal it into action. All goes well, although some members of the gang are unhappy about having to kill the guards, and their leader decides that because of this they should lie low for three years while he takes the map. The others don't trust him, so he takes his sword and splits the map into eight sections, giving each man a piece. They arrange to meet up in three years' time, but as that time approaches, they find that someone has taken an interest in their map, someone who is tracking them down one by one...

With a title like The Flash Legs you might be expecting a Benny Hill song, or at least a Ray Stevens tune, but this is nothing to do with streaking and all to do with martial arts from the Far East, this time starring Tao-liang Tan as the hero whose speciality is a traditional boot to the head. In fact, he's so adept that he can make a "thunk" or a "thwack" with his flying feet even when they aren't hitting anything - a neat trick if you can pull it off. Otherwise, this is pretty much your standard Hong Kong fight movie from the seventies, with a revenge plot dressed up as a variation on The Twelve Chairs, only our hero isn't out for personal gain here.

As you might have anticipated, whenever crusading lawman Hung Li (Tan) meets one of the Eight Dragons gang, violence ensues, but there's enough variety in their meetings to prevent boredom setting in. The first two suckers escape from a prison to search for the treasure with another inmate who fetches the warder's keys for them, and while they dig who should show up but Hung Li? Realising they're barking up the wrong tree, the gang members assume the attack position when confronted by their nemesis, and a big old ruckus follows with Hung Li the victor and the others, including his comrade, lying dead, a pattern that the film closely sticks to.

There's room for pathos as well, when the next gang member Hung Li contacts (while he works undercover as a waiter) is revealed to have a sick son and a blind mother to worry about, and that piece of the map he owns could well be his ticket to a new and improved life (and a doctor) for them all. He initially agrees to hand over the section, but that would mean no fighting, so he immediately returns empty handed for a punch up which naturally ends badly for him. And so it goes, with Tan exhibiting invulnerability no matter how many times his assailants draw blood - he even gets blown up, speared by huge poles and still gets up and walks away, straining credibility somewhat. With a missed opportunity for midget kung fu and two characters wearing trilby hats, The Flash Legs isn't the best of its kind, but Tan is an energetic presence and the action is good enough to forgive the implausibilities - of course, those implausibilities may be a good reason to watch for some fans. Listen out for where the music is stolen from, including The Spy Who Loved Me and The Man with the Golden Gun.

[55th Chamber's DVD release sees a worn, hissy, but watchable widescreen print, and extras that consist of a cobbled-together trailer, a stills gallery and a plug for selection of other releases on the label.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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