The Magnificent Ruffians (1979)


The Magnificent Ruffians Storyline

Yuan Ying Fei is the descendant of the one known as Golden Sword and himself is a master of the technique as well as being boss of the town. He is so a cruel man and has killed his sparring partners with unnecessary blows, causing many martial artists to leave the town with only Guan Ah Yun remaining. Guan is the owner of Wu Wei security bureau which Yuan wishes to buy but cannot bully Guan out as he has an eye for his sister and Guan cannot fight back because any time he tries his sister and mother stop him. Yuan is stuck until he learns of 4 kung fu experts who are passing through the town by eating in restaurants and then taking it in terms to take a beating due to not being able to pay. Yuan tricks He Fei,Yang Zhui Feng, Zeng Qiao and Feng Jia Ji into being his friends and then tricks them into believing that Guan is a cruel and unhelpful man. The four go to fight Guan, but do so away from his mother and sister – but the fights produce mutual respect and friendship between sparring which leads Yuan to more deadly deception.—bob the moo

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The Magnificent Ruffians Movie Reviews

A typical Venoms outing

THE MAGNIFICENT RUFFIANS is about as typical a Venoms film as you can get – and there’s nothing wrong with that. It has an interesting subtext about the growth of new technology and weapons meaning that martial artists are left out on their luck, but this is very much secondary to the story of Lu Feng’s greedy property owner who’ll stop at nothing to indulge in his twin passions of expansion and killing rival martial artists. Lo Meng is a delight as the upright security bureau chief standing against him, while the others play vagabonds who get caught up in the plot. There’s plenty of action, of course, the best of it saved for the elaborate climax, and it’s never less than engaging at any point.

Five friends are divided by a cruel kung fu warlord.

Four starving friends and their new friend are tricked by a madman into fighting each other. This movie has 3 major elements that any good kung fu movie must have: great cameraderie between the main heroes, awesome kung fu, and a great villain!

Fun “Venoms” outing

A year after the one – two punch of Five Deadly Venoms and Crippled Avengers, director Cheh had some pretty high marks to reach with his subsequent films. While he created some highly entertaining productions none of them ever really met the standard he set with those two films.

The film concerns the plight of unemployed martial artists at the turn of the 20th century. Guns and modern transportation have essentially made the traditional security transport agency obsolete. Who needs highly trained and expensive martial artists when you can give an idiot a gun? An unhinged man who has inherited his father’s businesses and wealth plus his father’s “Golden Sword” skill, preys on starving, itinerant martial artists by challenging them to friendly fights. What the desperate martial artists don’t know is that this guy is really fighting to the death. When the only guy in town who could possibly defeat the Golden Sword techniques refuses to sell his property to the rich guy, the rich guy concocts a plan to have our heroes, also wandering starving martial artists, kill him without their knowledge. The rich guy also covets the man’s beautiful sister.

One of the criticisms of Cheh’s film is that they are frequently humorless affairs despite the absurdity of the martial arts. Not so here. Quite a bit of light-hearted fun despite the evil of the rich guy’s plans. However once the film hits the last third much of the fun is gone as tragedy takes full control. In contrast, The Crippled Avengers managed to maintain the humor throughout the entire film (after the nasty first ten minutes). The martial arts are choreographed by several of the “Venoms” so we do get to see a lot of their excellent skills on full display but perhaps missing the expert choreography of Tang Chia who would pull it all together. The final fight is quite remarkable and goes on for a while. The “Golden Sword” is actually a kwando (a large blade at the end of a staff) which is not frequently seen in film.

A strange scene in the middle of the film is quite revealing of director Cheh’s predilections. The heroes are invited to stay at the rich guy’s mansion. They are offered a bath before dinner. The four heroes, wrapped in towels, walk to the bath. One of them gooses the other who exclaims, “What are you doing?” Then three of them wrap their arms over each other’s shoulders as they enter the bathroom. Suddenly they all run out screaming. There are women there ready to bath them! (We don’t get to see the women naked). The upset heroes throw the women out, toss their towels off (off-screen) and we cut to them all together in the bath having a playful water fight! Cheh must have been having a wonderful day! Just a warning to those who like their Venoms a little more hetero.

A fun film, not the best, but fun.