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Film / King Cat

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The cat, the rat, and the princess they need to save.

King Cat is a 1967 Wuxia movie released by Shaw Brothers, starring Chang Yi, Lo Lieh and Kiu Chong.

Based on the Song Dynasty novel, Seven Heroes and Five Gallants (七侠五义), Chang Yi stars as the leading gallant, Zhan Zhao (展昭) a.k.a the titular King Cat, who is assigned to track down a band of thieves calling themselves the "Five Rats" led by Bai Yu-tang (白玉堂) a.k.a the "Brocade-Coated Rat", who is guilty of stealing a load of imperial treasure. But they have to put their differences aside to rescue a princess from the ruthless, dangerous murderer, Hua Chong the Variegated Butterfly (Lo Lieh), who is keeping her captive in a monastery full of corrupt monks.

King Cat contains example of:

  • Animal Theme Naming: Protagonist Zhan Zhao is awarded the title "King Cat" because of his agility and stealth being compared to a cat. Fittingly enough, his immediate rival is the "Five Rats" led by Bai Yu-tang the "Brocade-Coated Rat", and they spend much of the movie picking on each other, Bai trying to stay a step ahead of Zhan while Zhan tries catching Bai.
  • Arrow Catch: Zhan Zhao's backstory when he saves the Emperor, involves him catching an assassin's arrow with his bare hands moments before the arrow can hit the Emperor.
  • Badass Crew: Bai Yu-tang's band of Blood Brothers all serve this purpose in the climatic final battle. Appropriately they're all themed after rodents.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Hua Chong, the Variegated Butterfly who is a corrupt martial artist who takes delight in killing and raping for fun, and the monastery's high priest who oversees the illicit theft, kidnapping and trafficking operations of the corrupt monks.
  • Blackface: It's very obvious that the black-faced Justice Bao-zhen is played by a Chinese actor (Ching Miao, who frequently plays bit roles in Shaw Brothers movies) with a painted face.
  • Booby Trap: The monastery's interiors and basement levels are full of traps, including pitfalls and spear-launchers.
  • The Cavalry: In the climax of the movie when Zhan Zhao and Bai Yu-tang are facing off against hordes of corrupt monks, Bai's sworn brothers arrives with the other warriors to help combat the monks.
  • Damsel in Distress: Princess Yung'an ends up being captured by Hua Chong and the corrupt monks, and it's up to Zhan Zhao and Bai Yu-tang to save her in the finale.
  • Duel to the Death: The final one-on-one duel between Zhan Zhao and Hua Chong, which Zhan Zhao emerged the winner.
  • Enemy Mine: Zhan Zhao "The Cat" and Bai Yu-tang "The Rat" put their differences aside when they end up facing the legion of corrupt monks in the monastery.
  • Family Theme Naming: For the Bai Yu-tang the Brocaded Mouse and his four "brothers"; Lu Fang the Skyward Mouse, Han Chang the Underground Mouse, Hsu Ching the Mountain Mouse and Chiang Ping the Underwater Mouse
  • Gentleman Thief: Bai Yu-tang, the "Brocade-Coated Rat" who spends much of the film challenging Zhan Zhao.
  • In a Single Bound: Atypical for these type of films, Zhan Zhao displays impressive skills in leaping periodically, capable of scaling rooftops with a single leap.
  • Off with His Head!: Early on there's a prisoner who gets sentenced to a public execution by Judge Bao, using a mobile dragon-headed guillotine. It's a Gory Discretion Shot however.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Hua Chong, besides being a ruthless murderer, killer and the Big Bad of the movie, is also a rapist who had raped and killed 3 imperial handmaidens (their half-naked corpses can be seen when Zhan Zhao leads a group of inspectors to investigate his scene of crime) simply For the Evulz. You know, just in case the audience doesn't know he's the bad guy of the picture.
  • The Rival: Zhan Zhao against Bai Yu-tang, the former being an Imperial Inspector and the latter being a Gentleman Thief.
  • Redshirt Army: The Princess' cadre of bodyguards are dressed entirely in red, and half of them died rather quickly in the abduction, barely standing a chance against the corrupt monks.
  • Scoundrel Code: Bai Yu-tang and his brothers may all be thieves and scoundrels, but they only steal from the rich and corrupt. And there are lines they will NOT cross, such as murder or rape. They also maintain a strict level of Honor Among Thieves.
  • Thieves' Guild: The five "rats", led by Bai Yu-tang.
  • Wall Crawl: Another one of the many skills displayed by Zhan Zhao, when he grabs and climbs up a wall while holding Princess Yong'an.
  • Wire Fu
  • Wuxia