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  Magnificent Bodyguards If I Said You Had A Magnificent Bodyguard Would You Hold It Against Me?
Year: 1978
Director: Lo Wei
Stars: Jackie Chan, Siu-Lung Leung, James Tien, Ping Wang, Lau Ming
Genre: Martial Arts, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ting (Jackie Chan) is undergoing an unusual job interview where he combats a horde of fighters, and all to prove his worth as a bodyguard to a local noblewoman. After defeating her men, Ting is blindfolded and escorted by horse-drawn carriage to her mansion house to meet her, and when they arrive he makes such a good impression that she agrees to hire him for protection on a journey through the Stormy Mountains. Why does she need to go there? Because her brother is seriously ill, and must reach the city on the other side for a cure. There are conditions for both of them, however: Ting must choose a selection of the noblewoman's men to tag along, and when he does the rejected ones are incensed, even to the point of attacking him, a fight they quickly lose. For Ting, he asks to take along his deaf friend Chang (James Tien), and so the party are ready to go...

...but they won't be expecting the spaghetti plotting that they're about to face in this, one of the few Hong Kong martial arts movies made in 3-D. Even if you're not watching such a print, it's obvious from the start and throughout, as various poles, weapons, fists and feet are sent flying towards the camera to give the audience that feeling of being smashed in the face without any of the accompanying pain. Which is what 3-D is all about, isn't it? Well, it is here. This unmistakable visual style lends a certain eccentricity to the proceedings, an aspect it barely needed as the storyline is truly bizarre, with new characters popping up hither and yon, as many fight scenes as possible and an unsure grasp of just how seriously we're supposed to be taking it all, humour being present, but not really enough to be an out an out comedy as Chan would make later on in his career.

Almost immediately after setting out, the party meet up with a peerless fighter (Siu-Lung Leung) who has a reputation for skinning his rivals alive (which we never see him do). He has just soundly beaten a knife-throwing expert which has been witnessed by Chang (if he's really deaf, how come he has no trouble understanding everyone else whatsoever? He must be a hell of a lip reader). Therefore he joins the expedition, and soon they are being surrounded by - Indians? Well, they're dressed like the Indians from an old John Wayne western at any rate, and the film also throws in killer monks who trap our heroes in a bell chamber and try to knock them unconscious with the noise, along with mystery man with six fingers on his left hand and the real identity of the brother. The fighting grows more plentiful and the twists more absurd, all climaxing in a massive battle that has the cheek to throw in the old "You killed my father, prepare to die!" cliché. Entertaining in either its 3-D form or not, Magnificent Bodyguards, or Fei Du Juan Yun Shan as it was known originally, may be confusing, but you tend to go along with it while you're watching. Music by, erm, John Williams.

[The Hong Kong Legends Region 2 DVD claims to be Ultra-Bit, but doesn't look it, and has a commentary and trailers as extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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