What Price Honesty?

1981 [CHINESE]

Action / Adventure

IMDb Rating 6.9 10 80

Plot summary

November 25, 2022 at 08:23 PM


Hao-Chuan Yuan

Top cast

818.65 MB
Chinese 2.0
25 fps
1 hr 29 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by ChungMo 5 / 10

"What Price Honesty" - Corruption drama with some martial arts

An obscure film from a two time only director, this feature one of the "venoms", Sun Chien, and solid martial art actor Danny Lee and a whole lot of familiar Shaw supporting actor faces. Lo Lieh has a modest role as the "King of Robbers".

Three graduates from constable academy are sent to their rookie jobs in a modest sized town. Instructed to enforce a royal edict to end all gambling, the three friends immediately run afoul of a corrupt magistrate and his crooked police force. The police captain regularly confiscates criminal's loot and shares it with the police officers, he also gives some back to the criminals and lets them free! The three new officers are taken aback by the rampant corruption and are not sure what to do. One wants to fight the system, Sun Chien doesn't want to endanger his family's income and the third rookie just wants to quit. Finally they take a vow to uphold justice but immediately are sent to capture the "King of Robbers". The wicked police captain doesn't back them up hoping that the "King" will kill the idealistic rookies for him. The third rookie is killed but the "king" is captured. The King is given a light prison sentence and the two remaining rookies are distraught at the injustice of the system. Meanwhile the corrupt magistrate and the police captain are conspiring against them.

Despite the cast, this film is heavy on drama and while there is a good amount of action it's rather uninspired unless Shen Chan, Sun Chien or Lo Lieh are in the action. The action highlight is a duel between Lo Lieh and Danny Lee. Unfortunately Sun Chien's character is sort of a coward and therefore the script doesn't allow him to do anything like he does in the "Venom" films.

An interesting story gets a Shaw assembly line treatment. Nothing terrible, nothing special. The film is choppy in several places and goes off track about 40 minutes in with an unnecessary, extended attempted rape that has some actress running around naked for a couple of minutes. Once that's over the film goes back to the story and is watch-able again. There are some gory scenes and a lot of scenes of men getting beaten.

Nothing to go out of the way to see.

Reviewed by venoms5 8 / 10

Downbeat period action/drama precedes HK New Wave crime films

Three young graduates at a police academy (played by Pai Piao, former Venom Sun Chien and Danny Lee) become entangled in severe corruption from within the police force. The criminals the three arrest are later set free and gambling, prostitution and rampant violence continues. With the townsfolk terrified to speak out, the three friends try and stand against the corrupt head constable and the magistrate. One of the friends is murdered attempting to apprehend a vicious killer (Lo Lieh), his wife blames his closest friend for talking him into becoming an officer only to leave her a widow and an orphan. The two remaining partners decide something must be done, but then the constable kidnaps Sun's family and forces him to frame Pai's character. He is subsequently tried and put in jail.

He is brutally tortured then put into a cell with those that he had arrested. These villains take turns urinating on him and beat him senselessly. He is then placed in an isolated cell. His wife comes to see him and tells him the Imperial Envoy will be passing through and she will inform him of what has been going on. Her conversation is overheard and she is hanged by the malicious police. In one of many shocking scenes, the police arrive just before the poor woman expires, but the head constable refuses to take her down instead watching as her neck breaks. The townspeople are in an uproar and threaten to revolt.

Sun's character has a change of heart and goes to see Pai in the cell pretending to still be a traitor. A plan is set into motion to spring him and inform the Envoy upon his arrival. The killer from earlier (Lo Lieh) is released to murder Pai in his cell but he is killed instead. Pai dresses in his clothes to get out. He breaks out during a mass execution of a couple dozen prisoners and Pai escapes on a corpse ridden wagon but not before killing the head torturer.

Pai eventually gets his hands on the nasty head constable and takes the equally vile magistrate hostage. He and Sun head for the dilapidated Temple of Chivalry for the showdown. He plans to hold the magistrate there until the Envoy arrives. He does arrive but is not on the side of good as he impales Pai with a sword and laughs with the Magistrate curious if had received the gifts sent to him. Finally, Sun can take no more and he valiantly cuts down both the Envoy and the Magistrate before being riddled with arrows. He collapses and he and Pai grasp each others bloody hands before finally dying as the film ends.

The movies main theme is corruption in the government and the common people cannot fight against the system although dying for what you believe in is ultimately preferable than living as a slave to a system where the guilty are protected and the innocent are imprisoned for convenience. A very strong movie from director Yuen Ho Chuen who had directed the previous years THE FIGHTING FOOL, a kung fu comedy, the extreme polar opposite of this film. It's a shame he didn't do more serious dramatic works as he apparently only directed these two films for Shaws. This same style of cop thriller would become commonplace years later set mostly in modern times. This film was way ahead of its time. A remake was done in the 90s under the name WHAT PRICE SURVIVAL.

Reviewed by Leofwine_draca 7 / 10

Little known, but very good

WHAT PRICE HONESTY? is a less well-known Shaw Brothers vehicle and a film with a really dark edge, much like KILLER CONSTABLE. I found it fascinating, with some strong action scenes, an unusual and interesting plot, and a great twist ending which I didn't see coming at all. There's the occasionally digression which doesn't really work - that extended nude/rape attempt sequence is out of place and seems like it comes from LOST SOULS with Chan Shen - but overall this is very good. The film boasts a triumverate of heroes in the forms of Danny Lee, Sun Chien, and Jason Pai Piao. They play early policemen tackling low rent crime and corrupt politicians, only to fall foul of bandits and their own peers. Lee doesn't have much screen time and Chien plays a cowardly character, but Pai Piao kicks plenty of backside and is a hoot. The film's exemplary supporting cast includes a guest star in the form of Lily Li and the superb Lo Lieh as an aggressive bandit leader. The Shaw production values are exemplary as ever, and there's plenty of gruesome action to enjoy, not least an extended bout between Lieh and a vengeful Pai Piao which uses all manner of props and scenery to great effect.

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