What makes a forest delightful? Chang Cheh teaming up with Ti Lung?
THE DELIGHTFUL FOREST (1972)
Starring: Ti Lung, Tin Ching, Zhu Mu, Lee Man Tai
Directed by: Chang Cheh
Action Directors: Tang Chia, Lau Kar-leung, Lau Kar-wing, Chen Chuan
Studio: Shaw Brothers
This story is based after the tale of Wu Song from the Chinese epic The Water Margin. Wu Song (Ti Lung) is a mysterious wanderer, convicted for murdering his sister-in-law after her adulterous affair with a local businessman led to their murdering of his brother. Follow all that? It’s all explained in the first 2 minutes. A man of scruples, he accepts his capture and punishment, but with his legendary reputation is recruited by the local warden to bring peace by ridding the local gambling house, aka “The Delightful Forest”,of an evil warlord.
It’s a Chang Cheh movie, and there really isn’t one of his Shaw Brothers movies that I don’t like. While Ti Lung is always a treat, his Wu Song character is not very likeable, which is strange because he still is a virtuous character. The story is pretty strange, even though it seems fairly loyal to the source material. The movie moves in a bunch of strange directions, though I think that’s more a byproduct of racing through dozens of chapters of a novel in 1 1/2 hours. Because of this, virtually all of the relationships to heroes and foes feel rushed and weightless. The bloodbath at the end definitely is an epic finale a Chang Cheh fan would expect. The choreography, while not stunning, is still fairly engaging, and does contain several gruesome moments typical of Cheh.
Should I Watch it?
Pretty standard fare for Chang Cheh. While his movies are always entertaining, this one is no where near the best of his or Ti Lung’s work. Catch it if you are a fan of either, but they have plenty of other films of higher caliber.
Movie Rating: (3 / 5) Kung Fu Rating: (2 / 5)