Shanghai 13 is nonstop action with tons of famous faces. A veritable who's who of stars from the late 60's to the early 80's.
Patriot Mr Gau, has to steal some secret treaty that would allow Japan to colonize China. With the help of Black Hat (Jimmy Wang Yu), he gets the papers and goes to Mr Shen (Chen Kwan Tai) for protection. Minister Hung, leader of the bad guys gets the word out to his men to kill Mr Gau. They plant a sniper (Black Sniper) on the roof. Mr Shen hears about the sniper and has one of his men pose as Mr Gau, knowing the sniper will shoot the decoy. He asks for volunteers and one of the guys gives his friend's name! (Gee thanks pal). Of course the poor kid is shot, and the sniper is shot for shooting the decoy. (Following this?). Mr Gau meanwhile is snuck out the back with Chiang Sheng who takes him to a hotel to hide out. They are discovered of course and from this point on the movie is just endless scenes of Mr Gau being passed from hand to hand, and the unfortunate person guarding him being killed. None of the stars get more than a few minutes screen time, but there are some terrific fight scenes in there. My favorites are the 2 fight scenes with Lu Feng inside a house. First he fights with Beardy (who must be some stud, because when we first see him he is in bed with 4 girls!) Then he fights with the wimpy Andy Lau. The last fight between Ti Lung and Chien Tien Chi is also quite good.
We also have David Chiang as a nightclub owner who's place gets demolished because Mr Gau decides to do some gambling there. There are also a bunch of other faces that are familiar to me but I can't put names to. It doesn't matter, they all end up dead anyway. Being a Chang Cheh movie the deaths are quite bloody and inventive with lots of knives and weapons coming into play.
Of course the only one to emerge unscathed is Mr Gau. After having practically everyone in the town die fighting over him, he just boards his ship without a care in the world. I know he is supposed to be some kind of hero, but other than carrying the papers he doesn't do anything. He didn't even steal the papers himself he had Jimmy Wang Yu do it.
I don't know why but I also finds parts of this movie funny. There's the intro, with it's blaring guitar music and the badly drawn faces of the actors. The cheap sets, with the break away walls. The guy offering his friend as a volunteer, the stupid looks on Mr Gau's face as he cowers behind the person protecting him. And my favorite, Lu Feng pulling those 2 huge knives out of his back pockets that were obviously not there a few seconds ago.
Shanghai 13 definetly has it's flaws, but it's main purpose isn't the story it's the stars and the fights and both are there in abundance.