All Men Are Brothers (1973)

Directed by
Less fun than I remembered
Reviewed by Simon on 2023-10-01

It's funny how things are always the opposite of how you remember them - at least, it's often the case when you rewatch a film.

When these first came out on DVD I remembered ALL MEN ARE BROTHERS being the much more fun follow-up to the overstuffed The Water Margin, but watching them both again I found The Water Margin thoroughly engaging and All Men Are Brothers rather insubstantial.

The film dispenses with character introductions this time, and has little in the way of politics or intrigue, preferring to jump (almost) straight into the action. The Outlaws of the Marsh agree to eliminate a rebel in his well protected stronghold, they send a group of spies in to gather intel prior to mounting their assault...

... and that's pretty much all there is to the film.

The whole spying thing falls apart immediately because they once again entrust Fan Mei Sheng's hot-headed character Black Whirlwind with an important mission and he blows their cover because he can't hold his temper.

Each of the major characters then gets a scene of their own or in pairs where they mount a heroic stand against overwhelming forces, die heroically, and eventually triumph but at a heavy cost.

I assume this comes from a late chapter of the original novel given the deaths of so many recognisable characters, and it effectively marked the end Chang Cheh's efforts to adapt it into film form - having barely begun.

Apparently this was filmed in 1973 but only released in a heavily cut form in 1975. Celestial restored most of the cut scenes for home video but had to record new audio for them, which is why it sometimes (often) sounds like a completely different film for a stretch.