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Your 14th Anniversary Random Movie Club Results Are In!

Tagline: Hell hath no fury like 14 women scorned.

Pizza: Little Toni’s

Preshow: None


Each year, Random Movie Club celebrates its anniversary by screening a movie with our anniversary year in the title. As this was our 14th anniversary, it would be a movie with number 14. I really didn’t want to watch the Richard Benjamin/Paula Prentiss parody of slasher films, SATURDAY THE 14th, so I looked further and discovered THE 14 AMAZONS, a Shaw Brothers movie from 1972. In the 70s, The Shaw Brothers studio had more movies in production than any other studio. They’re still so much in the public eye that the Weinstein Company is set to remake two Shaw Brothers movies. And Run Run Shaw, who is one of the brothers, is still alive. He’s 106. [Update: Run Run Shaw died on January 7, 2014, between our screening of the 14 AMAZONS and me finally getting around to finishing this write-up.]


After watching both KILL BILLs last year, I learned of Tarantino’s love of the Shaw Brothers, so I watched a couple of their films - 36 CHAMBERS OF SHAOLIN and LADY SNOWBLOOD. While I thought both were terrific, THE 14 AMAZONS is more of an epic, with large battles featuring hundreds of extras. Yes, we had fun making wisecracks (the outfits the bad guys wore resembled Santa Claus suits, so it sort of invited us), but let me assure you; AMAZONS is a really good movie. And just when some movies start losing their steam, about ninety minutes in, AMAZON throws its coolest scene at us; with no way to cross a chasm, a group of fighters form a human bridge. It’s much more fun on the screen than reading it here, believe me.

human bridge2

human bridge3

This is the story of the Yang family, who lived about a thousand years ago, during the Song dynasty. General Pao and his men are defending the border from Tien Feng, his five sons, and hundreds of loyal soldiers. Pao and his troops are being slaughtered, yet he refuses to surrender. Because of this, Pao gets shot with lots of arrows to the torso.


Back at home and unaware of his death, the Yang family are celebrating Pao’s birthday without him, wishing him longevity. Sitting at long tables, we find a great grandmother and a slew of “grandmothers”, a term obviously lost in translation as not only are they young, they’re Pao’s daughters. When word of Pao’s death reaches the Yang women there’s a very brief mourning sink-in. Then they become angry that the emperor did not send reinforcements, which left Pao and his men to get ambushed on the border. The women want to take revenge, but the emperor’s corrupt Minister Gao forbids it. But guess what? The Yang family goes anyway. Defying Minister Gao means they can’t use the Imperial Army, so the Yangs and some volunteers set off to find Tien Feng and his barbarians (good name for a band). Women fighting back had to be so ahead of its time, both in a 1972 movie and in 1000 AD China. I’m no historian, so someone may want to school me on that.


Another thing you can school me on has to do with the character of Yang Wen Guang, the only male of the family. You see, Wen is not only played by a female (Lily Ho), but they make no effort at all to make her look like a boy. She looks and dresses like all the other girls.
One theory was that she actually is a girl, posing as a boy so as not to lose the Yang’s lineage. Or maybe it’s just the way they cast things in these movies. Either way, it certainly threw us. Can anyone help out here? Anyway…

If Yang Wen Guang stays behind rather than go to battle, as Grandmother wishes, the Yang family might be able to keep their lineage. But he’s impetuous and throws a tantrum. Grandmother has Yang fight his mother, and whoever drops the spear loses. Suffice to say, Yang Wen Guang goes off to battle, making him the 14th Amazon (I think).

Since they are outnumbered, the Yang family must outwit the barbarians. They do so in a series of strategy meetings followed by some fun and bloody battles, including but not limited to falling rock zones and arrows in eyes.



If you watch AMAZONS, be sure to take a drink every time Tien Feng shouts “Kill them all!!” Two drinks for “Bury them alive!!” I should also point out that despite all his commands, Feng’s soldiers were never quite able to execute them. The Yangs are simply more cunning. One of the things they come up with is blowing up the dam. I’m hard pressed to know where they got dynamite (the subtitles said “dynamite”) 800 years before it was invented. Though I did just learn, after a few keystrokes on my magical computer, that the actual Song dynasty were the first people to use gunpowder. Maybe that’s what they meant.

TANGENT: Okay, so I know that it was a different time and certainly a different culture, but I’ll never get the whole honor and loyalty thing. That whole dying for your country and defending your honor is really not for me. I’ll give up government secrets before you can get within 500 feet of me. Who cares? Lives should be more important than honor. Anyway, in AMAZONS, you get a lot of people begging to die for their country.

And another thing!

Who kills people and laughs while doing so? I mean, sure, psychopaths in movies do (and perhaps in real life, though I have yet to be privy), but these are hordes and herds of people, all laughing. Were all humans psychopaths back then? Of course, these were barbarians…so maybe I’m over-thinking this. Anyway…

The aforementioned human bridge is worth the price of admission. They even do it forty years later, in 2011, in the remake (also from China) called LEGENDARY AMAZONS, produced by Jackie Chan.

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