Now I have always enjoyed watching some of the old school martial arts movies when I was a kid because you honestly didn’t need to know what was going on. All you were concerned with was all of the fights that would occur. Now, as an adult, I still enjoy watching some of those old school movies but I find myself wanting more of a plot involved with them. With the Martial Arts box set from Mills Creek that I have, I find myself confronted by numerous examples of those types of movies and have to admit that some are definitely better than others in that regards. Now to see how The Brave Lion fares in this regard.
The plot: During World War II Japan, two Japanese soldiers, Sirvaki and Mekoni (I have no idea how their names are spelled), are in prison awaiting execution but are offered a chance for freedom. Since they had spent time in China and know the language, they are ordered to take charge of a lumberyard in occupied China and make sure to fulfill an order that the Imperial Palace has placed. Some time later, the foreman at the lumberyard, Wong Shan, is disciplining one of the workers and when a second worker asks why he is beating him up. Wong Shan says it is his job, then begins fighting with the second man, eventually killing him. Mekoni, the manager of the lumberyard, had seen the fight and when he asks Wong Shan who started it, he says the first man and Mekoni orders him strung up. When some of the other workers see this, they go after Wong Shan but he is able to fend them off until another man, Xiao Wing, stops the fight, telling Wong Shan they should discuss this. When the man is cut down, Mekoni is furious and beats the two men that had cut him down, then chastises the doctor for treating the injured man. Sirvaki asks Mekoni what they should do with the two men and he has them strung up and left out in the sun. As the two men bake in the sun, a young boy sneaks over to give them some water. Meanwhile, Mekoni speaks with Wong Shan, saying he knows that he started the fight. Wong Shan says it doesn’t matter as they need to get the job finished and Mekoni agrees with him. Later, a young woman is walking with the boy when they are approached by Mekoni, who accuses them of giving water to the men but doesn’t do anything to her as she is the niece of the lumberyard’s owner. The niece then goes to her uncle and tells him about what is going on and the owner orders the men released and tended too. He then goes to speak with the Mekoni but the Mekoni tells him that the order has been increased and they will have to work double shifts in order to fill it. Later, Wong Shan is ordering the men to work but when the refuse and several try to beat him up, he fights with them but it is eventually stopped when Mekoni tells them they can all take the night off that night. The men all cheer and head into town for the night but as they celebrate, the owner’s niece overhears Mekoni and Sirvaki speaking with a Japanese official about what to do with the men. The next day, the niece goes to tell Xiao Wing, one of the men that was tied up the other day, but Wong Shan, who is attracted to her, hears that she is there and when he sees her with the man, he begins fighting with him. The two men continue fighting until Xiao Wing manages to beat Wong Shan. Later, the two are in the doctor’s office, and the owner’s niece is tending to Xiao Wing’s injuries and when Wong Shan complains about her ignoring him, she decides to treat him by giving him an injection. Later that night, as the men are drinking, Wong Shan shows up and offers to be friends with Xiao Wing. Later, the owner’s niece meets with Xiao Wing and tells him about the Japanese men that met with the Mekoni and Sirvaki and how they plan on moving the men somewhere else once the job is completed. Later, Wong Shan and Xiao Wing are both motivating the men to hurry and finish the job, but some of the men are tired of Mekoni’s brutal reign and try to escape. Mekoni and Sirvaki catch up to some of them and they proceed to beat the men mercilessly. One of the men goes back to try and free them but he is attacked by Sirvaki and as he runs away, Mekoni and Sirvaki’s men chase after him and manage to catch and beat him close to death before Xiao Wing manages to chase them away. The dying man tells Xiao Wing that the other men are being killed, and Xiao Wing asks Wong Shan to come with him as he goes to try and stop it. At the lumberyard, the owner is saddened to see the dead men lying on the ground and asks Mekoni if he did it and Mekoni admits it and says he will kill anyone that gets in his way. Wong Shan, seeing the dead men, rushes off to attack Mekoni and is stopped by Sirvaki but before Sirvaki can beat him, Xiao Wing asks that he be let go and Sirvaki relents. Later that night, Mekoni asks Xiao Wing to be the new foreman but he refuses and Mekoni is shocked by the refusal. Meanwhile, the men all want to quit working for Mekoni and Sirvaki and though Wong Shan is reluctant to join in, the shame him into leading them. When Mekoni hears about this, he wants to have Wong Shan killed for his disloyalty. Later, Mekoni is told that Xiao Wing is not part of Wong Shan’s revolt and he praises the man, then orders Wong Shan to be found and killed but the niece’s young brother hears them and goes to tell his sister. The niece tells her brother to warn Wong Shan but he is too late as Mekoni’s men find him and begin attacking him. Wong Shan tries to fend them off before turning to run, only to see Mekoni and Sirvaki on the path below him with some more men. Wong Shan continues to try and fight and run but he is eventually killed and when Xiao Wing and some other men rush up, Mekoni tells them all to get back to work. Later, the girlfriend confronts her uncle about Mekoni and Sirvaki and accuses him of betraying their country to work with the Japanese. Meanwhile, the men all meet with Xiao Wing and convince him to lead them against Mekoni and Sirvaki. The next day, the niece and nephew go running to their uncle, telling him that some men have gone to destroy the bridge out of the area in order to disrupt Mekoni’s plans and Mekoni and Sirvaki go with the owner to the bridge to stop them. When they get there, they find the bridge is gone but Mekoni thinks it is all a trap and orders the owner’s niece and nephew captured so they can turn the trap on the workers. When the workers learn that the trap has failed, they decide to go ahead and gang up on the Japanese men and beat them up. Meanwhile, Xiao Wing sees the niece and nephew tied up to rocks and moves to free them when the niece warns him about the trap. Xiao Wing ends up facing off against some of Mekoni and Sirvaki’s men and manages to beat them but Mekoni attacks him with a whip while Sirvaki uses his size and strength to attack him. Xiao Wing manages to get free from their combined attack and as he runs up the hill, he continues fighting with them and manages to send Mekoni tumbling down the fill. Sirvaki continues fighting with Xiao Wing and send shim tumbling down the hill, where Mekoni is waiting for him but Xiao Wing manages to get Mekoni’s feet stuck in the mud and he is able to knock him unconscious. Sirvaki makes it back down and continues attacking Xiao Wing but Xiao Wing gets the upper hand. Sirvaki attempts to escape but Xiao Wing follows him and as they continue fighting on the train tracks, Sirvaki attempts to escape on a hand cart but runs into the blockade that Xiao Wing and the workers had set up earlier. Xiao Wing catches up to Sirvaki and continues fighting him but Mekoni, who has revived, gets in the nearby train and attempts to run Xiao Wing over. Xiao Wing sees the train coming and shoves Sirvaki down onto the tracks, causing Mekoni to run him over by mistake. Xiao Wing then renews his attack on Mekoni and as they fight all over the place, Mekoni eventually ends up being trapped in some of the lumber and Xiao Wing drops a log on top of him, killing him. As the niece, nephew, and workers show up, Xiao Wing collapses from exhaustion and they all rush to help him while back at the lumber mill, the owner sets fire to the lumber yard in order to prevent the Japanese from getting any of it.
Despite the multitude of fights, this was actually a pretty boring movie. The acting was ok I guess, while the dubbing was atrociously bad in such a hilarious way. The story had some basis in truth, as Japan did occupy China during WWII, but the plot of the movie was actually a little hard to follow. The worst part is that you really don’t have much clie who anyone is during the entire movie, which was incredibly annoying for me while trying to write this review. The fight scenes were plentiful but that honestly kind of made them seem boring because the whole movie ended up seeming like nothing but one giant fight. This is one of those movies that is ok to watch as a time suck, but don’t expect a lot out of it.
Rating: 2 out of 5