Four Riders (1972, Hong Kong; filmed in South Korea). Director: Chang Cheh. Action directors: Tong Kai & Lau Kar-Leung.
The choreography and execution of the fight scenes in Four Riders were far better than the average early-‘70s “basher-style” martial arts/action film. Most “basher-style” films were kung fu films that usually did not feature any special ‘styles’, but the typical karate-type punch/kick/chop/flip style of fighting, often sloppily executed by actors with little actual martial arts training. If you can imagine any of Bruce Lee’s movies, think of everybody else in the movie except for Bruce and the main villains, and you get “basher-style.” This style of choreography was prominent in Hong Kong cinema from about 1970 to about 1975. My favorite “basher-style” movie is The Boxer From Shantung” (1972), also directed by Chang Cheh, which starred Chen Kuan-Tai, which I posted much earlier in this thread. But the choreography in Four Riders is another one of the better examples of “basher” choreography. It’s obvious that Ti Lung, Chen Kuan-Tai, and Yasuaki Kurata were experienced martial artists, and Wang Chung and David Chiang looked good, too. Except for the gunplay. It looks like the choreographers (Tong Kai and Lau Kar-Leung), great as they were at directing kung fu fights, didn’t really understand how guns and bullets worked.
From around 1973/‘74, kung fu films featuring “shapes” (i.e., animal styles and other imitative forms, including “Drunken” style, etc.), started becoming more popular. Besides becoming more refined and sophisticated, later films featuring “shapes” paved the way for more and different storylines than previously.
Four Riders was set in 1953, right after the Korean War, but of course, some of the clothing styles make it appear otherwise, especially the late ‘60s/early ‘70s fashion worn by Tina Chin Fei.
Note: For many years, I assumed that the name of the ‘80s band Wang Chung was chosen on a lark after they saw a Shaw Brothers movie starring Wang Chung (who played the acrobat/protagonist in this movie), but it wasn’t. The band’s real inspiration was “huang zhong” (yellow bell), the first note in the Chinese classical music scale, and they just coincidentally decided to spell it ‘Wang Chung‘.
Final fight, part 1; Ti Lung, Chen Kuan-Tai & Wang Chung vs Yasuaki Kurata, Tina Chin Fei, and thugs:
Final fight, part 2; Ti Lung, Wang Chung, & David Chiang vs Yasuaki Kurata and thugs: