|(All images courtesy Warner Home Video, unless noted otherwise.)|
|left to right: Meng Fei and Pai Hong|
|left to right: Maggie Lee Lam Lam and Meng Fei|
|left to right: Yasuaki Kurata and Wong Ching|
|left to right: Yasuaki Kurata and Meng Fei|
How does it stack up to the movies of Cheh's "Shaolin Cycle?" Notably, the story is smaller in scale (focusing on Shih-yu before he entered the Shaolin Temple), the fights keep mostly to the ground and the extent to which women are featured goes contrary to the average Cheh Shaolin feature. To think that frequent Cheh collaborator Kuang wrote this is surprising, low key as it is, but back then, he probably saw it as a "one-shot" picture and wrote it as such, not knowing what lay ahead of him. (Eventually, he would write the majority of scripts for Cheh's Shaolin films.)
Continuing with the comparisons, Meng Fei's portrayal of Shih-yu contrasts greatly with that of Fu Sheng's memorable interpretation for Cheh. Part of this is due to the story, but some of it may relate to his acting experience. (It was his second film.) However, the fact Fei doesn't look and act "larger than life" like Sheng works well within the confines of the movie, making him an ideal choice for playing an underdog. (Not an easy observation to make with that ridiculous English voice he's given.)
|Gratuitous picture of Maggie Lee Lam Lam.|
Brother Fang cuts to the chase: "This nearly-forgotten curio in the annals of films with Fang Shih-yu lacks the Shaolin Temple, but it's still fun for what it is. Any Meng Fei fan who doesn't have it yet needs to buy it. Everyone else should either rent or watch on YouTube."
Keeping it trivial....
Fang Shih-yu, Shaolin Temple.
P.S.-- Buy The Prodigal Boxer here.