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Film / The Avenging Eagle

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The Avenging Eagle is a 1978 Wuxia film released by Shaw Brothers, starring Ti Lung and Alexander Fu Sheng.

In the warring clans of ancient China, Chik Ming-hsing (Ti Lung) is a man on the run, having escaped the former clan he was raised in, the dreaded Iron Boat Clan whose legion of assassins, called the Thirteen Eagles, he was a member of. His former colleagues and partners are unwilling to let him go, and now Ming is a wanted fugitive by the other twelve Eagle Assassins. But along the way, Ming encounters Cheuk (Alexander Fu Sheng), a wandering warrior who is travelling all across China to personally destroy the Eagle Assasins, because these assassins massacred his family of in-laws while he's on journeys of his own. Namely, his personal vendetta is against the Eagle who killed his pregnant wife.


After a brief fight between the two - Cheuk trying to kill Ming because of Ming's connections with the Eagles, both men comes to a conclusion that they will work together to overthrow their common enemy - Master Hung, the ruthless leader of the Eagle Assassins.

This film was remade in 1993, titled The 13 Cold-Blooded Eagles. There are news reports from The Weinstein Company of a modern Hollywood remake of this film, but so far nothing has come into fruition.


This film contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: In his first few scenes, Ming-hsing is depicted wearing a poncho over his black robes, not unlike his previous role Fu Hung-hsueh from The Magic Blade.
  • Animal Motifs: The Thirteen Eagles, killers who use birds of prey as motifs whose members are named Condor, Vulture, Falcon, among others.
  • The Atoner: Chik Ming-hsing, our Retired Outlaw protagonist who is seeking to atone for the murders he committed in the past.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Master Hung, leader of the Eagle Assassins and also the powerful final battle for Cheuk and Ming to overcome.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Cheuk and Ming against the Eagle Assassins, and then against Master Hung’s legion of mooks in the finale.
  • Badass Longrobe: Both protagonists wears long overcoats, as well as some of the Eagle Assassins, and Master Hung himself.
  • Bald of Evil: The Vulture Eagle, the most powerful of the Eagle Assassins sent after Ming.
  • Beard of Evil: Master Hung, whose magnificent mop of beard makes him even more Obviously Evil than necessary.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Master Hung is dead, and the Eagle Assasins have disbanded. Cheuk have given up his quest for vengeance, but Ming, still guilty over killing Cheuk's wife, demands for Cheuk to kill him. After a brief scuffle, Ming ends up forcing Cheuk to stab himself in the gut, apologizing for his past misdeeds, before dying.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Ming and Cheuk both uses strategies to outwit and disarm the Eagles sent to kill them, which works most of the time allowing the duo to strike a killing blow first.
  • Contract on the Hitman: Ming have bailed on the Legion of Eagles, but his Master and ex-colleagues aren’t very happy about his departure and wants him dead.
  • Crusading Widower: Cheuk Yi-fan, on a quest for vengeance after the Eagle Assassins killed his pregnant wife.
  • Deadly Disc: The Vulture Eagle uses this as a weapon, as does the Gold and Silver Eagles.
  • Death Seeker: As it turns out, Ming is actively seeking his own demise after taking down the Eagle Assassins. His final actions are to commit suicide using Cheuk's blades, to atone for his past sins.
  • The Drifter: Ming is introduced as a vagabond, having being on the run from his former syndicate who wants him dead.
  • Dual Wield: More than one member of the Eagle Assassins use two weapons at the same time, such as butterfly blades, tonfas, or swords. Cheuk Yi-fan himself prefers using two mini-blades attached to his wrists.
  • Elite Mook: The Eagle Assassins, a league of killers trained since birth to become naturally-trained assassins, which The Hero Ming was a member of.
  • Enemy Mine: Cheuk and Ming fights each other early on, due to Cheuk having his desire for vengeance taking over him, but they eventually decide to work together to defeat the Eagle Assassins while trying to reach Master Hung.
  • Eyepatch of Power: One of the Eagle Assassins who gets killed early in the film have this over his left eye.
  • Fighting Your Friend: For the climax, after finding out Ming is the true killer who murdered his wife, Cheuk briefly attacks Ming, at this point which they're Fire-Forged Friends after all they've been through.
  • Gotta Kill Them All: There are 12 Eagle Assassins who wants Ming and Cheuk dead, and to overthrow the evil clan they have to kill all 12 of them.
  • Groin Attack: Cheuk and Ming does this more than once in the film. In fact in Cheuk's introduction scene he explicitly does this, prompting the Eagle Assassin who's on the receiving end to curse him for hitting below the belt.
    "Hitting between the legs? Where's your sense of honour?"
  • Handicapped Badass: The Gold and Silver Eagle, Master Hung’s two personal bodyguards. They’re missing their left and right hands respectively, but they still give Cheuk and Ming one hell of a fight in the ending.
  • His Name Is...: The Vulture Eagle, most powerful of the enemies, barely managed to croak out the truth behind the death of Cheuk’s wife ( namely, Ming is the true murderer who took her life) before Ming finish him off with a deadly stab.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: More than one member of the Eagle Assassins ends up getting killed by their own weapons courtesy of Ming and Cheuk. Including the dual-sword wielding Eagle who gets stabbed by his own sword, the Eagle Assassin who uses an Epic Flail getting strangled by his own flail, etc.
  • In the Back: During the inn ambush, Cheuk (disguised as a waiter) stealthily takes out one of three Eagle Assassins out to kill them by stabbing his opponent in the back.
  • Martial Arts Headband: Worn by many characters, including Ming, Cheuk, the Vulture Eagle, the Condor Eagle, the Gold and Silver Eagle, and a few other members of the eagle legion.
  • Murder, Inc.: The Eagle Assassins are all professional killers trained from birth.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ming, after killing Cheuk's pregnant wife.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Cheuk's preferred weapon, which he used to kill the first Eagle Assassin who crossed his path. Later he continuously uses the Blade Below the Shoulder variety of weapons against the other assassins.
  • Please Kill Me If It Satisfies You: Ming said this trope to Cheuk, almost word-for-word, after they've killed Master Hung together. Cheuk's thirst for vengeance have been fulfilled and no longer desires to kill, but Ming have other plans.
    Ming: "Kill me now! Isn't this what you're after?"
    Cheuk: "Pfft, what for? My enemies are all dead." (Prepares to leave)
    Ming: (Grabs Cheuk's arm-blades and finishes off himself instead)
  • Power Fist: Master Hung, fitting for a villain who runs an eagle-themed assassination legion, wears a pair of iron gauntlets with eagle claws in the final battle.
  • Thirsty Desert: In the opening sequence, Ming is riding a horse over a dry, barren desert looking for a way out. He reaches an oasis, but his horse succumbs to the harsh desert after a short while.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Subverted, there are thirteen members of the Eagle Assassins, one which is our hero Ming. As such he's facing off against 12 assassins after him.
  • Training from Hell: The Eagle Assassins are subjected to these ever since birth, by the clan that adopted them. Right in the opening flashback we see their recruits - many which are still children - getting put to death for failing their training!
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: One occurs for Ming halfway through the film. It depicts the Eagle Assasins, including Ming, ruthlessly slaughtering every member of the Cheuk household, culminating with Ming killing Cheuk's pregnant wife, under Master Hung's orders.
  • Wire Fu: True to the typical Wuxia setting.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Master Hung have absolutely zero qualms ordering for the entire Cheuk household massacred, including handmaidens and ladies-in-waiting, and even ordered Ming to kill Cheuk’s pregnant wife to prove his allegiance to the Eagle Assassins.


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