Newest Reviews
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Quiet Place Part II, A
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
Yellow Cat
When the Screaming Starts
Sweetie, You Won't Believe It
Lions Love
Night Drive
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
  Seaman No. 7 Don't make fun of his name
Year: 1973
Director: Lo Wei
Stars: Jimmy Wang Yu, Maria Yi Yi, James Tin Jun, Lo Wei, Lee Kwan, Tien Feng, Han Ying-Chieh, Gam Saan, Got Heung-Ting, Chin Yuet-Sang, Masafumi Suzuki, Luk Chuen, Seung-Goon Leung
Genre: Action, Thriller, Martial ArtsBuy from Amazon
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Whistling sailor Wang Hai-Lung (Jimmy Wang Yu), nicknamed Number Seven, brawls with a bar full of drunken Japanese bullies but is such a hot-head, he kills an innocent bystander. On the run, he becomes a stowaway aboard a Japanese ship but is discovered by a vicious gang of gang of drug smugglers. They force Wang to deliver a letter warning about police patrols to their cohorts in Kyoto, but the note also reads: “kill the messenger.” Being an all-round badass, Wang fights his way out of this fix and finds sanctuary with his cousins Hsiao Li (Lee Kwan) and Hsiao Fang (Maria Yi Yi) and their Uncle Tien (Tien Feng). However, the smugglers led by Golden Hair (James Tin Jun), a suspiciously blonde villain in a preposterous pink suit who spars with a giant sumo wrestler, hound Wang everywhere he goes.

Both writer-director Lo Wei and star Jimmy Wang Yu were Shaw Brothers exiles who found a happy home at Golden Harvest, the studio founded by disgruntled former Shaw’s accountant Raymond Chow. Both men had already done their part to establish Golden Harvest as a filmmaking force to be reckoned with: Jimmy having directed and starred in the groundbreaking smash The Chinese Boxer (1969), Lo having wrote and directed the international hits The Big Boss (1971) and Fist of Fury (1972) starring the studio’s newest discovery, Bruce Lee. Most likely, the studio suspected the combination of Lo Wei and Wang Yu would be dynamite and they were right.

Also known as Wang Yu’s 7 Magnificent Fights and as simply The Fighter, Seaman No. 7 is an intriguing neo-noir thriller that imports the familiar Hitchcockian man-on-the-run gambit into an far eastern milieu. Jimmy’s surly, amoral antihero initially comes across as a real jerk. Hot-headed and downright homicidal, the character trades on his off-screen notoriety as he was well-known for getting into a scrap or two, but was usually valorized by the public either because the publicity department were doing their job well or because his opponents were mostly triad thugs. However, Wang Hai-Lung is steadily humanized as the story develops. As with Fist of Fury, the anti-Japanese sentiment (more apparent in its early scenes) needs to be placed in context. Tensions between Chinese and Japanese were still running high even almost thirty years after the war. As many Chinese ventured overseas to earn money to support families back home, films like this tapped into feelings of homesickness, bruised pride and desperation, whilst stressing the camaraderie between bullied immigrant workers. Lo Wei himself cameos as a friendly noodle chef in a touching scene where he and Wang reminisce about Taiwan and how the standard of living has improved.

“I hate Japan”, grumbles Wang in an early scene that must have shocked Jimmy’s many Japanese fans (in 2010 he appeared at a Tokyo film festival acknowledging his own debt as a filmmaker to Japanese cinema). Having just completed filming Zatoichi vs. the One-Armed Swordsman (1971) where he was allegedly ill-treated by the Japanese crew, it is possible Jimmy was out to make a point as he did with his excellent Beach of the War Gods (1973). However, Wang Hai-Lung learns Japan is not such an awful place and not all Japanese are glowering bad guys. He gets a job sweeping floors at the local dojo where a kindly sensei (Masafumi Suzuki from the karate classic The Streetfighter (1974)) admires his dedication and teaches him a wider variety of martial arts. More importantly, Wang rescues some Japanese girls from a group of what the script amusingly calls “Teddy Boys” and earns himself a pretty Japanese girlfriend who shows him around Kyoto’s picturesque tourist spots. Her father coincidentally happens to be the local police chief, leading to a surprise twist revealing Wang’s bar-room victim is not dead at all and also an undercover cop investigating the drug smugglers. Inevitably, the dastardly villains attack Wang’s friends, driving him to take revenge in a series of increasingly thrilling fight scenes.

The action is among the most frenetic and visceral of the period, complemented by exellent camerawork including some spectacular aerial shots and sweeping vistas. Whereas Bruce Lee tended to portray himself as an invincible superman and Jimmy admittedly followed suit, this time he is far more vulnerable and shown getting really hurt in his showdown with blondie and his pet sumo, both sides wielding some mean-looking ninja weapons. A fight aboard a moving truck is nicely staged with a few sadistic touches as Wang repeatedly slams the door against one villain’s hand. A nifty speedboat chase culminates in a marvellous, extended, underwater kung fu fight. Jimmy was a former water polo champion, so performed these scenes for real.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 2879 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

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
Graeme Clark
Jason Cook
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt


Last Updated: