HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
American Fiction
Poor Things
Thunderclap
Zeiram
Legend of the Bat
Party Line
Night Fright
Pacha, Le
Kimi
Assemble Insert
Venus Tear Diamond, The
Promare
Beauty's Evil Roses, The
Free Guy
Huck and Tom's Mississippi Adventure
Rejuvenator, The
Who Fears the Devil?
Guignolo, Le
Batman, The
Land of Many Perfumes
Cat vs. Rat
Tom & Jerry: The Movie
Naked Violence
Joyeuses Pacques
Strangeness, The
How I Became a Superhero
Golden Nun
Incident at Phantom Hill
Winterhawk
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City
Maigret Sets a Trap
B.N.A.
Hell's Wind Staff, The
Topo Gigio and the Missile War
Battant, Le
Penguin Highway
Cazadore de Demonios
Snatchers
Imperial Swordsman
Foxtrap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Usurpers of Emperor's Power usurper, me surper, sooner or later we all surper
Year: 1984
Director: Hua Shan
Stars: Liu Yung, Leanne Lau Suet-Wa, Chiu Gwok, Lung Tien-Hsiang, Chun Wong, Wong Yung, Max Mok, Chan Shen, Hung San-Nam, Dang Wai-Ho, Lam Fai-Wong, Cheung King-Yu, Eric Chan Ga-Kei
Genre: Martial Arts, Historical, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: In Sung dynasty China, circa 975 A.D, Prince Li Hou Zhou (Eric Chan Ga-Kei) has been stripped of his kingdom and now lives in exile alongside his beautiful wife and faithful warrior Li Lang (Liu Yung). Both men are forced to watch when the dastardly Crown Prince Jin Guang Yi (Chiu Gwok) rapes the emperor’s wife (while servants lift them both in mid-air!), then commands his painter to draw the ordeal. Prince Li and his wife commit suicide, but Li Lang swears vengeance. The painting is then stolen by pretty, purple-clad ninja Xiang Ling (Leanne Lau Suet-Wa). Her mighty martial arts master Chen Bo (Lung Tien-Hsiang) delivers it to Prince De Zhao (Max Mok) who, desiring the imperial throne, uses the painting convince his uncle the Emperor (Wong Yung) to disinherit Guang Yi. The crown prince swiftly turns the tables by plotting to assassinate Prince Zhao.

Following a failed attempt on Guang Yi’s life, Li Lang is rescued by a smitten Xiang Ling. Together with Chen Bo they convince a band of forest-dwelling merry men led by jovial peasant hero Golden Tiger (Chung Wong) to shelter Prince Zhao in their friendly village. But Crown Prince Jin Guang Yi hatches a fiendish scheme to seize the throne, after which the ever-pragmatic Chen Bo switches sides.

Shaw Brothers bring you another sumptuous tale of skulduggery at the imperial court, albeit a thinly disguised remake of The Lady Assassin (1982). Whilst the overabundance of scheming characters pull the plot in different directions, Usurpers of Emperor’s Power (the original Chinese title translates poetically as Mystery by Candlelight) rattles along through an agreeable array of fiendish twists and eye-catching action sequences, and makes for an interesting contrast with the earlier, superior production. Whereas that film cast Liu Yung, star of Shaw’s popular Emperor Chien Lung (1976) film series, as the power-crazed emperor here he plays the dashing young hero, although Max Mok essays the same role as before.

As indeed does lovely Leanne Lau Suet-Wa, looking very chic in her lavender miniskirt with matching headband. Having risen to popularity in mainland China with critically lauded thrillers Affairs (1979) and Innocence (1980) as well as the schlocky but likeable White Haired Devil Lady (1980), Leanne signed with Shaw Brothers and graced studio hits such as Holy Flame of the Martial World (1983), Bastard Swordsman (1984), Little Dragon Maiden (1983) and the comedy Hong Kong Playboys (1983). In later years she drew great acclaim on television as the Empress Dowager and a run of period dramas scripted especially for her by respected Taiwanese novelist Qiong Yau. Usurpers… finds Leanne essaying a cheerfully flirtatious yet gutsy young heroine similar to the one she played in Lady Assassin. Once again, the brave hero falters and it comes down to her to strike for vengeance, only this time the outcome is considerably bleaker.

For Usurpers… weaves a relentlessly downbeat, disheartening story. The heroes are as courageous and resourceful as in the earlier movie, but outmanoeuvred by evil and unable to prevent the betrayal, rape and slaughter of innocent people. Chan Bo’s transformation into the villain of the piece is a little confusing given his devotion to Xiang Ling and his other students. “One must sacrifice for the greater good”, he remarks as justification, an argument put more persuasively in Hero (2003).

The film is beautifully shot by the versatile Hua Shan. A protégé of the influential Japanese cinematographer Tadashi Nishimoto, Shan made Shaw’s cult superhero movie Super Infra-Man (1975) but would have rather been remembered for co-directing the true crime movie The Criminals (1976) and its successful sequels with horror specialist Kuei Chi-hung. Yet beneath the fanciful surface, Usurpers… is an angry, bleak film, in line with other late period Shaw Brothers movies like the more celebrated Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984). Unintentional humour does lighten the mood every time Prince Yi slaps his bungling assassins.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 5740 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Enoch Sneed
Darren Jones
  Louise Hackett
Mark Le Surf-hall
Andrew Pragasam
Mary Sibley
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: