Across The River

Across The River
Director: Chang Cheh
Shot on the Mainland, Chang Cheh's most prolonged period post-Shaw's, in terms of settling on his troupe of actors (Dung Chi-Wa chief among them) goes from uneven to downright sloppy and also to top it all off, bad. It's operatic to the max as it centers the plot around an opera troupe with select characters about to become heroes of their time as they rise up against oppression in 1930s China. Many sequences of performing are included, many of which are shot with little flair and the trek gets even worse when basic plot isn't conveyed particularly well. Just because you have your characters talking of what to do, doesn't mean it travels to outside the screen. But extended opera leads to extended action for almost the full latter half of the film. Acrobatics and guns makes very much sense and the very tail end of the climax is set at a fireworks storage facility so literally we've got fireworks, that is watchable to boot. With the audience caring little for the heroism of characters, Chang Cheh may end his flick with attempts at poetry and style and it just shows there was life in him still. Life that unfortunately was leaving him for each movie that went by. Chinese with English Subtitles

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