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Snake: Crane Secret
Hong Kong, Taiwan
Drama, Action
IMDB rating:
Ma Wu
Storyline: Snake-Crane Secret is a tale of deceit, lying and mistrust. A family tries to uphold their honor, while keeping their Sacred Kung-Fu book from getting into the wrong hands.
Type Resolution File Size Codec Bitrate Format
DVD-rip 608x320 px 696 Mb mpeg4 969 Kbps avi Download
Chopsocky at its finest
Version: English dub

'Snake & Crane Secret' is on the better old-school kung-fu movies I've seen. It may still only be worthy of a 5/10, but for essentially $2.50, it is worth it.

The plot is fairly simple - two brothers are separated as children after their father is killed protecting the secret Snake & Crane kung-fu book from a bad guy. Twenty years later, the same bad guy is a top man within the Ching-dynasty leadership. A group of rebels (good-guys) need the brothers and their kung-fu skills to stop the bad-guy and free their people.

The dubbed dialog is great, and some of the fights (especially the final one) are enjoyable, otherwise it is still pretty still pretty silly: good-guys and bad-guys alike randomly turn up halfway through a fight and join in, and watch out the bad-guy's weakness at the end.

Bad kung fu + convoluded plot = hilarity
I bought this movie at Meijer for $5.99. The plot makes really no sense whatsoever, and the fight scenes are not choreographed well at all. However, if you like cheesy kung fu action, poor cinematography, and ridiculous characters that promise only to do "menial labor," Then you will love Snake Crane Secret. I have seen it many times, and it is a great movie with which to impress a date. The key is: do not take it seriously. It is no Crouching Tiger, but it is a "good" movie in and of itself.
Snake Crane Secret is a terrible movie
It has a couple of saving graces but generally is just bad. It begins with some reasonably well done flashbacks that show the background of the current situation. There is some treachery, some decent fighting and the sudden appearance of a monk to save the day--or at least saves the lives of the protagonists when they were children. The next acceptable scene features Fang Fang, showing some kung fu and spear moves to a not very enthusiastic audience—she really sells the moves. I know that the Shaw Brothers studio had training courses for actors and actresses in fighting for the camera. They didn't learn kung fu as such but how not look ridiculous when imitating it on film. She was able to wield her spear, the short staff and a few other weapons without embarrassing herself during fights.

Elsa Yeung Wai San was a different story. Perhaps she was having a bad couple of weeks, but she always looked out of place during the fights. Her work with the jointed staff reminded me of a housewife with a flyswatter. A fight with Elsa and Fang taking on a bunch of bad guys is one of the dullest I have ever seen.

The reunion between the brothers who had been separated for 20 years was lame--it was as emotional as if one of them was returning from lunch.

Mang Fei was an almost totally unlikable protagonist. His ambition was to kill a Ching Dynasty official who had killed his father but he came across as petulant and spoiled. And Yu Tien Lung as the Ching official was an extremely bland bad guy. Until the end of the movie he was simply an ambitious local bureaucrat looking for promotion. In the last reel, however, he became a kung fu master. It took Mang Fei, played by his brother Hang Kuei, played by Tung Li, and their uncle Shao Ting San, played by Dean Shek, to defeat Yu. and he was still able to injure Erh Lang and kill Hang Kuei. He went from a petty timeserver to a martial arts killer in the blink of an eye.

Not recommended.
Hiss hiss, whoop whoop.
Villainous Hung Kung-shan (Yu Tien-Lung) convinces gullible Hang Kuei (Li Tung) that his brother Tin is working for the Qing government, when in reality it is Hung Kung-shan who is the traitor. When Hung Kung-shan kills Tin and tries to execute Tin's two young sons, Hang Kuei realises his mistake and legs it to safety with the kids, placing each boy in the care of a different monk (Buddha's name be praised!).

Twenty years later, Ehr Lang (Mang Fei), the youngest son, now schooled in crane style kung fu (and proud owner of a hairstyle copied from glam rockers The Sweet), learns the truth about his father's death and goes looking for Hung Kung-shan, now a top Qing official (who sports sideburns like well-used Brillo pads). Ehr Lang's quest for revenge eventually reunites him with his brother, a master in snake style, and together the pair work out a plan of attack to defeat the wicked Hung Kung-shan.

Secrets of the Dragon (AKA Snake-Crane Secret) is standard old-school martial arts fare all the way, a routine tale of revenge that never manages to distinguish itself from countless other similar chop socky flicks of the same era. The fighting is decent enough, with Mang Fei performing some impressive acrobatics, director Wu Ma has an amusing cameo as a drunken officer, a couple of good looking kung fu chicks with weapons provide some eye candy, and a fun scene featuring the two brothers sparring whilst balanced on water jugs offers a little jollity, but there is nothing here that serious kung fu fans won't have seen countless times before.
Dull and derivative plot, though there is some nice kung fu action
This film is for the English dub of SNAKE CRANE SECRET--and in this case, the dubbing is rather poor. Keep this in mind, as the original Chinese movie might differ or be significantly better or worse.

I think I've finally seen so many martial arts films that many of them are starting to merge into one. Now this isn't to say I am tired of the genre, as I love one of these films if it has something new and unusual that sets it apart. But SNAKE CRANE SECRET is so full of derivative plot elements and clichés that I couldn't help but repeatedly think that I'd seen it all before. For example, the films begins with (what else?) a betrayal. And, of course, family members of the betrayed (two boys) are somehow spared and eventually grow up to vow revenge for their father's death (in many other films, it's their sensei or clan leader). Along the way, they meet a couple of kick-butt lady kung fu experts and the film is filled with celery-snapping special effects every time a kick or punch is delivered--even if it doesn't connect. And, in the end, there are also no surprises--NONE! About the only real positive for the film is that the martial arts are decent. While very few of their punches and kicks really connect, at least they generally come close (unlike some really BAD martial arts films). And, while it may get some getting used to compared to Japanese karate films and those of Bruce Lee, the ballet-style choreography of the fighting sequences is impressive. In other words, instead of looking like a real all-out fight, the scenes are extremely planned out and choreographed so it looks almost like a dance or work of art. It's a style I've seen in many other films and while not exactly realistic, I appreciate the care and effort going into the fights.

If you've seen only a few martial arts films, this one is well worth seeing. If you want something innovative or unique, I suggest you look elsewhere.
Watchable and fairly enjoyable.
I enjoyed the movie. The video cost $2.99 so the price was okay. These kung-fu movies often are done in a similar formula. I did not expect anything really new and different. There are some pretty girls in the movie. If you like to watch the martial arts movies on Saturday TV then you will probably find this one worth a watch too!
DVD or VHS, it's all good...
A.k.a. SECRET OF THE DRAGON (on DVD), SNAKE CRANE SECRET (vhs) boasts some interesting (and sometimes hilarious) touches: whenever Er Lang (Meng Fei) uses his crane style of kung fu, we hear a crane whoop; when Tai Kung Liang (Tan Dao-ling, a.k.a. "Dorian Tan") uses his snake fist, we hear the hissing of a snake. It would be interesting to find out if this was director Wu Ma's idea, or something thrown in by the people doing the dubbing. The dubbing overall is unusual in this film (the music choices are particularly fun). This is a classic scenario, with Er Lang being raised in a kung fu temple and Tai Kung growing up to become an Imperial soldier. When soldier Kung arrives at the temple looking for the secret kung fu manual safeguarded by Er Lang, Er Lang slips away with it. In town, the Sun and Moon group is hunted by the Chings. Er Lang and Kung meet and scrap, but the manual doesn't change hands. Er Lang moves in with a local pickpocket and gives the beggar a manual- just not the one everyone's after. Hung Kung-shan (You Tian-long), who killed the parents of Er Lang and Kung, kills the beggar. The Sun and Moon group is ambushed by soldiers (led by the scar-faced Shao Tin-san- Dean Shek), but are saved by Hu Quay, Er Lang and Kung's uncle, who, years earlier, had betrayed their father. (To his everlasting credit, he didn't know that the family was to be murdered.) There are some solid action sequences in SNAKE CRANE SECRET and, as already stated, the direction is interesting. Well worth a look.
Routine kung fu styles film teaming Meng Fei and Flash Legs Tan
I saw this one under the title SNAKE IN THE GHOST'S SHADOW. It's a routine chop-socky story about a couple of orphaned brothers whose father is killed by an evil master. They're separated and reunited twenty or so years later by which time each has become a master in his own martial arts style; one crane, one snake.

Everything about this film is typical for the genre, with a profusion of fight scenes which fail to connect with the audience. It's a surprise that the choreography is below par, because Meng Fei and Flash Legs Tan were both respected martial arts in their own right so teaming them up should have been a dead cert. Instead what we get is a movie which merely goes through the motions without innovating. The main bad guy lacks presence and director Wu Ma shoots with a minimum of fuss and style. The training scenes and plot twists aren't bad but you can do a lot better for this genre.
all around magical kung fu experience
i have seen this movie many times, and each time i watch it, it gets better and better. if you have the opportunity to purchase this movie, i highly suggest it. the plot is very simple to follow, the kung fu is great, and the end fight seen is bad ace.
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