Freedom Strikes a Blow (1974)
A martial arts fighter, haunted by his past, takes a job as a dock worker in a small village. His vow never to fight again is tested by the cruel owner of the pier.
"Shen Wei Ta" (Wai-Man Chan) is a young man who is dating the sister of the local bully. One night the two men get into a fight and after Shen Wei Ta accidentally kills him he is forced to flee from the scene. Vowing to never fight again he changes his name to "Chung San" and gets a job as a manual laborer off-loading cargo from ships and tries to save as much money as he can. However, when young thieves are caught stealing some rice from a warehouse, Chung San stops them from getting beaten to death by offering to pay for the merchandise out of his earnings. This inexplicably angers the dockyard boss who doesn't like the fact that Chung San dared to interfere and proceeds to order some of his hired thugs to beat him up as well. Fortunately, some of the workers come to his aid and manage to stop things before he is seriously hurt. Not long afterward, things get much worse when the leader of a crime syndicate moves in and takes over the pier which subsequently disenfranchises all of the workers who have spent most of their lives working on the docks. Violence soon erupts with a particularly strong and muscled individual named "Chiang Tai" (Bolo Yeung) killing or maiming anybody who dares to interfere with the syndicate. It's at this time that Chung San realizes that he has to reevaluate his vow to abstain from fighting. Now rather than reveal any more I will just say that this was an old-style kung fu film of the type that gained prominence in the early 70's. While not as good as those movies which featured Bruce Lee, this particular film had more than enough action and several actors (most notably Bolo Yeung) who had previously performed with him to give it a certain amount of credibility. In short, fans of martial arts films from this general era might enjoy this particular movie and I have rated it accordingly. Average.
A routine Hong Kong beat-em-up, surprisingly entertaining thanks to the starring power of huge Chinese muscleman Bolo Yeung (ENTER THE DRAGON) who spends his entire screen time breaking down his opponents and ripping them to shreds. Although Bolo doesn't come into the film until halfway through the running time, his appearance immediately signals a stronger level of quality in the fight scenes as he smashes through enemy after enemy, never losing and destroying every opponent. My only major complaint with this film is the misnomer of the retitling, Chinese HERCULES; it makes it sound like Bolo is going to be the hero in the movie when instead he is more routinely (type)cast as the villain's henchman. Now watching Bolo in a traditional peplum-style Hercules film as the hero; that would be something really special.Aside from Bolo, it's hard to see why this film is so special. The production values are about average for a typical mid '70s Hong Kong kung fu film, meaning that the editing is sloppy and the music overbearing. The dubbing is either unbelievable or ridiculous and the transfer I watched was horrifically panned and scanned, ruining the spectacle of a number of the fight sequences. Speaking of the non-Bolo action, it is fairly routine and the film does take a long while to get going. The clichéd storyline concerns the skilled fighter who kills a man and vows never to fight again; of course we all know that eventually he will resume fighting so the various plot twists are never too surprising.Cast members put in commendable performances (especially from the lead, whose character surprisingly gets some depth, unusual for this genre) but nobody really shines. Apart from Bolo, of course, who makes do with a single line of dialogue ("First we kill them, then we dump them") for dramatic effect. The finale of the film consists of a massacre followed by a massive battle which really shows off Bolo's bone-breaking capabilities and as a result the entertainment value is far greater than it has any real right to be. My advice is to struggle through the slow build-up and then watch it for the violence and the coastal scenery alone. Grade C chop-socky at its finest.
CHINESE HERCULES is a martial-arts movie with a nice plot, something you don't see too often in the genre! The fight scenes are also not bad, and considering that Bolo Yeung is one of the bad guys, can it really be that terrible?? :)Starting with our protagonist Lee Hsi accidentally killing someone in a fight, CHINESE HERCULES follows him through his flight to a small village, which is entirely dependent on the traffic that comes into their pier. As such, the owner of the pier can control all the workers (isn't ownership great?) and beat them up without remorse. Lee wants to defend his friends, but he's sworn an oath to never fight again. Also, the current boss of the pier is eventually overrun by chain-smoking Boss Chan and his giant of a henchman, Chiang Tai (played by our buddy Bolo).The fight scenes in CHINESE HERCULES, when they actually happen, are not terrible, with the exception of one scene in the middle (wherein a disgruntled worker barges in on the pier owner "doing business") that is entirely overdubbed by shabby sound effects. The most interesting part of the fights is seeing Lee's emotions as he fights with himself over whether or not to fight OTHER people. And eventually, what do you think he decides to do? Take a wild guess!As mentioned earlier, the struggle of the village's inhabitants against the big bosses is possibly the best feature of CHINESE HERCULES. Add into that an emotionally torn Lee and a huge-ass bad guy and you've got a solid script, and a great movie. My rating: 7.5/10
A small village is under the thumb of the local cigarette-flipping Boss Chan (Liang Tim) and his hired thugs, including a giant of a man, Chiang Tai (Bolo Yeung). A man, seeking to run away from his past (he killed someone in a fight) seeks refuge there, vowing never to lift his hand against another man again.Memorable Quotes: "First we kill 'em, then we dump 'em"