Hand of Death (simplified Chinese: 少林门; traditional Chinese: 少林門; pinyin: shǎolínmén), also known as Countdown in Kung Fu, is a 1976 Hong Kong martial arts film written and directed by John Woo, and starring Doran Tan and James Tien, and featuring early acting performances from Chan Yuan-lung, Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao in supporting roles. In addition to their acting roles, Hung also worked as stunt co-ordinator, whilst Yuen also performed much of the stuntwork, including doubling for both of the principal stars.
During the Qing Dynasty the Shaolin disciples are hunted down by a powerful warrior who wants to rid the Shaolin men from China. At a remote training camp a group of Shaolin train together, their best student Yun Fei is given the task of taking down Shih Shao-Feng and his reign of terror. Along the way he befriends Chan Yuan-lung's character named Tan Feng, who is a blacksmith.
Yun Fei arrives at Shih's camp and tries to take him, but fails. His Shaolin techniques are useless against Shih's "extended iron claw". When Shih beats him, he leaves the rest to his eight bodyguards, who each have weapons such as swords, shields and spears.
Yun Fei escapes with the help of the blacksmith, goes to a village and discovers Shih's men are taking apart the village and pillaging anything they can to scare the villagers into submission.
Tan befriends two people along the way, including a brilliant swordsman who has never drawn his sword after he accidentally killed a prostitute he loved.
The team forms a coalition to defeat Shih Shao-Feng.
With battle plans laid and the heroes trained, they prepared themselves for the battle ahead of them. After their training, Yun Fei's friends cut off his pigtail. Yun Fei and all the heroes will create a diversion, where they will assail Shih's headquarters in separate groups.
The diversion and ambush on the following day is ultimately successful. Luring away Shih's lieutenant Tu Ching (Sammo Hung) Tan Feng is the first to act in the climatic act. Arriving at the gate where the pagoda which is the stronghold of the main villain, he proceeds to kill off several guards, including two of Shih Shao-Feng's elite fighters. Whilst the rest of the characters reached a grassland where four more elite fighters under Shih's command comes by. Leading to a prolonged, lengthy fight between the heroes and four more of Shih's elite warriors.
Unfortunately for Yun Fei's gang, the battle went on longer than anticipated, and Shih realised their plans. Tan Feng went back to rendezvous with his friends and assist them in battle, but is mortally wounded whilst killing another elite. Yun Fei and the other heroes managed to kill the rest of the elites and they escapes, with Shih, Du and a small troupe of their men in pursuit.
More and more of the heroes are killed as the film reaches its end, while nearby a beach Yunfei beats Tu to death and kill off Shih's last elite fighter.
In the end, Yunfei faces off against Shih and his remaining soldiers. All which he defeats single-handedly, then he fights Shih and wins.
The movie ends with Yunfei strolling past the graves of all his friends, paying his respects.Doran Tan - Yun Fei
James Tien - Shih Shao-Feng
Paul Chang - Zorro, "The Wanderer" (as Chu Ching)
Jackie Chan - Tan Feng (as Chen Yuan Lung)
Sammo Hung - Officer Tu Ching (as Hung Ching Pao)
Gam Kei-chu - Ma Lieh, "Smiling Fox"
Carter Wong - Kien
John Woo - Scholar Cheng
Yuen Biao - Arrow Guard killed by Shih
Yuen Wah - Shih's Bodyguard with Spear
To Wai-wo - Shih's Bodyguard with Twin Swords
Ko Keung - Shih's Bodyguard
Lam Hak-ming - Shih's Bodyguard
Tong Kam-tong - Shih's Bodyguard
Chiu Chun - Shih's Bodyguard
Jin Bong-jin - Shih's Bodyguard
Mang Ding-goh - Shih's Bodyguard
According to his book I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action, Chan was completely knocked unconscious when he did the stunts on this film.