1 March 2008 | djmomo17
Not quite riveting, but not boring, strong female roles
This early Shaw wuxia sword adventure has some great concepts - a female student and teacher pair, the last legendary sword of the Martial Arts World, a "vampiric" naughty prince (actually just looks vampiric), some nice group skirmishes. Li Ching as the student starts out being a bit bratty and annoying but her character develops a bit throughout the film. Essentially a legendary sword is lost and the movie is about it's rightful descendents trying to regain ownership of it from the local ruler (whose son also has the hots for the female student of the teacher whose husband was killed for the sword).
Overall I didn't get bored at all during the movie even tho I felt the narrative was only just OK. There was a ton of Morricone music lifted from the Clint Eastwood "Man with no name" films - as sneaky as it was, it really added a lot to the film. Every time the sword is unsheathed you get a Morricone sting. Despite myself I had to grin... The swordplay and fighting was just a bit below average. Not even Jimmy Wang Yu level. But not too distracting from the rest of the movie at least. There are a couple of nice "magical" kung fu gags as well as a very small training sequence. The last third brought in a cartload of new characters who seemed a bit late to the party. It felt like this was the first of a trilogy adapted from a novel, especially with the somewhat open-ended ending, so that kind of hurt it for me. Maybe if I saw the sequel (if one was ever intended or made) than I would change my opinion...anyways I really would have preferred it if they had concentrated on the female teacher-female student premise - that was kind of fresh, even tho it got shoved aside later on. I give it a 7 just for that concept alone.