Big Brother Cheng (1975)

Genres - Action  |   Sub-Genres - Martial Arts  |   Run Time - 113 min.  |   Countries - Hong Kong  |  
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This follow-up to the surprise Hong Kong hit The Teahouse ups the action level but loses sight of what made the original film so special. Big Brother Cheng abandons the moral complexity of the first film, dumbing it down into a simpler revenge melodrama calculated to be a crowd pleaser. This time, Cheng is not the cool-thinking man of the people. Instead, he's a hothead who resorts to violence without a second thought. This makes the story richer in excitement but also shortchanges it dramatically. Unfortunately, the film is also thrown together in a rather haphazard fashion that forces characters to act in illogical ways to fit its rather slapdash plotting. That said, if you can get past these sizable flaws -- and a rather dull midsection -- Big Brother Cheng still has some attributes for fans of Shaw Brothers films. Chen Kuan-Tai gives a charismatic lead performance that anchors the film when its story strays and director Kuei Chi Hung lends the film a gritty visual style that suits the story well. It also delivers a rousing finale that is guaranteed to make action fans happy. In the end, Big Brother Cheng is too sloppy and flawed for the general audience, but offers enough solid moments to make it worth a look for Shaw Brothers fans.