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Film / The Bloody Escape

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The Bloody Escape is a 1975 Shaw Brothers action-drama directed by Chang Cheh and Sun Chung, starring Chen Kuan-tai, who at this point of his career had started becoming one of Chang Cheh's favourites, and also Shih Szu in a rare non-action role.

The Wolf Head Gang is a bandit clan who had a rule against killing, one enforced by their chieftain. Gu Hui (Chen) is one of the clan's best fighters, who was raised among the bandits as a baby and grew up to be a powerful enforcer who follows the non-killing rule to the heart. But when the old chief dies, the new Chief, Du Jian Qiang, decide to order a change in management, forsaking the old rules on his very first day as chief by ordering a massacre of a merchant caravan and kidnapping a young woman, Tang Li (Shih Szu) as a hostage.

When Gu Hui realized his former clan had become completely evil, he decide to leave, saving Tang Li in the process, and attempt to escape from the bandit clan, but Chief Du isn't willing to let anyone go easily. Making matters worse is the involvement of a local police chief, Commissioner Chang Chin (Wang Wai) who happens to be Tang Li's boyfriend, and had mistaken Gu Hui for being the bandit responsible for his girlfriend's abduction.

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The Bloody Escape contains examples of:

  • The Atoner: The protagonist, Gu-Hui, who is raised in a clan of bandits and spends his days committing robberies, until he had a Heel–Face Turn (not that he was even much of a villain at the beginning) after witnessing Chief Du slaughtering an innocent family and kidnap a young woman. He immediately does everything in his power to atone for his sins, including rescuing the woman, Miss Tang Li, and then abandoning his clan.
  • Attempted Rape: Chief Du attempts this on Miss Tang Li, the woman captive he kidnapped, but he only managed to pull down her trousers when Gu Hui interrupts. In the subsequent quarrel Gu Hui ends up saving Tang Li and fleeing with her.
  • Bound and Gagged: The night after her abduction, Miss Tang Li is shown bound to a chair in Chief Du's quarters and with a gag around her mouth.
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  • Buried in a Pile of Corpses: Referenced but not seen; Old Chung, a former bandit chief, said he used to be one of the most fearsome murderers in the martial world, until his clan ends up in a fight where by the end of the battle, he's the Sole Survivor and had to drag himself from underneath two hundred corpses.
  • Chase Fight: A brief one on occurs between Gu Hui and Chief Du (after Chief Du had killed Gu Hui's benefactor, Old Man Chung) where Gu Hui and Chief Du, both on horseback, pursues each other. Gu Hui managed to jump from his horse and land behind Chief Du's, then both men lashes out on each other while on an out-of-control horse.
  • Defector from Decadence: Gu Hui's reason for betraying his former clan; having witnessed Chief Du Jian Qiang, the new clan leader, ordering an innocent family massacred and kidnapping a woman, and later on trying to force himself on the woman he abducted. This is more than enough to convince Gu Hui to ditch his clan.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Gu Hu, despite spending the whole movie with Miss Tang Li, the kidnapped woman he rescued from his clan, by the end of the film he's content with letting Tang Li leave with her boyfriend, Commissioner Chang, deciding she is happier with him instead.
  • Duel to the Death: The film ends with one of these between Gu Hui and Chief Du, as the remaining bandit mooks watches from the sidelines. Gu Hui wins, killing his former boss.
  • Inspector Javert: Commissioner Chang Chin will stop at nothing to have Gu Hui arrested or catch him in committing crimes, pursuing him all the way to the end. Subverted that by the end of the film, after Gu Hui had killed Chief Du and toppled the bandit legion, Commissioner Chang instead decide to let Gu Hui go free as gratitude for saving his girlfriend.
  • Morality Pet: Miss Tang Li, the kidnapped fiancée of Commissioner Chang. Gu Hui attempting to rescue her, to the extent of betraying the bandits and taking on his new clan boss serves as a major arc for his path of redemption.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Gu Hui used to be a bandit and one of their best fighters, until he found a conscience and turns on his new boss.
  • Retired Monster: Old Chung used to be a bandit and marauder, but after barely surviving a bloodbath, he decides to conceal his identity, move to a neighboring town where nobody knows who he is, and then make a living being a shoemaker. That was more than fifty years ago, until he gave shelter to the fleeing bandit Gu Hui and reluctantly brought up his past after sympathizing with the ex-bandit.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Old Chung, the ex-bandit chief turned shoemaker, who only had a few minutes of screentime. Within those few minutes however he provides shelter for Gu Hui and Tang Li after they had fled from the bandits' hideout, tells Gu Hui of his backstory as a villain thereby inspiring Gu Hui to be a better man, and in his dying throes he tells Gu Hui it's never too late to change himself for the better.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Gu Hui follows this motto early on in the film; despite being a bandit, he demands his underlings not to kill anyone, but to simply rob them of their wealth and let the victims leave. That all changes when the bandit gang elects a new boss, Chief Du.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: In classic Chen Kuan-tai style, Gu Hui gets to fight shirtless a few times, notably in the opening challenge, and later on when surrounded by a number of bandits, he removes his shirt before fighting them all.
  • Would Harm a Senior: Chief Du, in his attempt to drag Gu Hui back to a life of crime, had absolutely NO qualms attacking Old Chung, the kindly old shoemaker who gave refuge to Gu Hui. His last punch to the gut ends up being fatal.


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