Snuff Bottle Connection

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (29 votes, average: 4.17 out of 5)
Posted In: Action Movies, All Movies, Kung Fu Movie Reviews, Kung Fu Movies, Martial Arts Movies, Taekwondo
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Snuff Bottle Connection adds a little bit of a twist to typical Kung Fu Movie by making a group of Russians the villains and setting up a Chinese secret agent and his con man brother as the Ching Dynasty’s only defense against a Russian takeover of Manchuria.

It’s a fairly simple plot, devoted primarily to the heroes’ efforts to identify the Chinese official in league with the Russians, and sets the stage for smorgasbord of well-staged fights in scenes choreographed by Kung Fu director extraordinaire Yuen Wo Ping, best known today for his work in the Iron Monkey, The Matrix, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

The long-legged, high-kicking John Liu plays the imperial agent who goes undercover to find out who’s playing host to the four Russian military men visiting the tidy hamlet of Ching Yoon. Liu turns for help to his brother Kao (Yip Fei Yang), a con artist and gambler with a young thief-in-training (Wong Yat Lung) as his protege.

The Russians, led by Colonel Tolstoy (Roy Horan), are a rowdy lot and three of the four are expert martial artists and supreme troublemakers to boot. Two of them visit the local establishments, including a restaurant and casino, and proceed to wreck the joints and beat up all the bouncers when they don’t get what they want.

Two strong heroes and six formidable villains add up to the right formula for a consistently entertaining and action-packed Kung Fu film. Some of the fights involve the ancient “snake-hawk” style, and many fights feature a variety of unique weapons. The action culminates in an extended seven-minute bout in which Liu and his brother take on Hwang Jang Lee, a true Taekwondo master. The weapons are a major feature of the fights, with Kao’s exotic throwing blades pitted against Colonel Tolstoy’s old-fashioned dueling pistols in a couple of confrontations.

There are poles, spears, swords, and blades-on-chains, as well as that old Yuen Wo Ping standby, the bench, employed as well. The traitorous General uses the famed iron fan in a most lethal way. Most of the major fights are staged on location at temple and courtyard settings or in the sprawling Taiwanese countryside.

It’s a well-put-together film with good production values, an entertaining script and costume design and lots of exciting fights enacted by skilled and charismatic martial artists. I highly recommend this film. A must see! Thomas DiSanto

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