HK Cinema - 1975
After the One Armed Swordsman, Chang Cheh continued
to make a number of successful kung-fu films for the Shaw Brothers. In
1970 there was Vengeance, Return of the One Armed Swordsman (1972), Boxer
from Shantung (1972), Blood Brothers (1973), but with Five Masters of Death
(aka Five Shaolin Masters) Cheh did some of his best work.
He hired what he came to call his first team
David Chiang, Ti Lung, Chen Kuan Tai, Fu Sheng and Chi Kuan Chun and
they were to star in many of his future films. Ti Lung and David Chiang
in particular became big stars from this film.
David Chiang was born into an acting family and
had been in films since he was a child. Though very small of build, he
became a kung-fu star. He had been in The Heroic Ones, Vengeance and The
Return of the One Armed Swordsman before Five Masters of Death. During
the seventies he appeared in a number of other kung-fu films often teamed
up with Ti Lung, but once the kung-fu craze slowed down so did his popularity.
He tried to make the transition to modern action films Just Heroes
but without great success.
Ti Lung on the other hand was eventually able
to make that transition. Ti Lung was well versed in martial arts having
studied karate, tae kwan do and other forms. He became one of the biggest
stars of the kung-fu era appearing in many of the same films as Chiang.
After a few down years with the ebbing popularity of kung-fu films, Lung
made a comeback with A Better Tomorrow in 1986 and then ABT II in 1987.
There were some other good films after these The Bare Footed Kid, Blade
of Fury and Drunken Master II but these days he is primarily doing TV.
One of the other Five Masters Alexander Fu Sheng
had a brief but shining career. He became very popular for his martial
arts skills and also for his rugged good looks. He appeared in a number
of classics besides Five Masters Na Cha the Great, Disciples of Shaolin,
Ten Tigers of Kwangtung, the Brave Archer series, Cat vs Rat and one of
Chang Chehs more interesting films The Chinatown Kid which takes place
in modern day San Francisco. Unfortunately, in 1983 he was killed
in a car crash. He was 29 years old at the time.