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  • 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.
  • I am very surprised that no one has yet commented on this film. It is a fine old Shaw Bros. release, a very traditional sword-play film, with a solid cast, solid story, solid film-making.

    What makes this all the more confusing is that this film has two of the strongest female characters to ever appear in Hong Kong cinema. Feminist critics are always telling us women need strong, independent role models as heroes in cinema - well, look no further, here they be.

    Two students fight over inheritance of a murdered master's sword. The bad=guy wins. what he doesn't know is that the student he kills has a wife who's actually a better fighter than her husband. To find the killer, she goes under-cover as the servant of a leading general's daughter.

    The general is forced by the king to betroth his daughter to a real scumbag prince. The dead hero's wife saves the daughter, seriously wounding the prince. From the nature of the wound the bad-guy student (the king's hired assassin) figures out who the servant really is.

    However, this heroic widow now goes into hiding with the general's daughter (who becomes her protégé). The young girl goes out riding one day and meets a kind of Chinese Robin Hood, a heroic bandit. Together, all three heroes join up with a rebellious nobleman, and join the cause of revolt against the evil king....

    There are numerous fight sequences; the fabled sword of the murdered teacher changes hands several times; and there is a lovely musical number right in the middle of the film.

    The acting is first-rate, the cinematography beautiful; the characters are charming, and the story is fairly compelling, with only one episode towards the end that is a little hard to follow (since it involves a character of whom we as yet know nothing).

    This is a film that is difficult not to like. The contemporary audience may need to be cautioned to give it some time and patience, but it will certainly entertain you, given the chance.
  • What a wonderful surprise to watch this movie. I came across it by accident and as a fan of the genre I gave it a chance though I knew nothing of it in advance.

    I enjoyed it thoroughly and it ended with many questions. Why is this movie not a martial arts movie classic? Why was a sequel never made in 1968? Why was this movie never remade? It is that good.

    Let me qualify that. First you have to be a fan of this genre. Second you have to look at the date it was filmed. Putting that into perspective I rate it 8 out of 10. Reasons for that high rating include: real martial arts. Though not true martial artists the fight choreographer actually taught the actors how to do real kung fu moves. Also the fan is used as a weapon. The fan was later picked up and used as a weapon and comedy prop by Gordon Liu and Jackie Chan and others. Is this not the first use? Finally we have the girls kick ass aspect of the movie. Pei Pei Ching gets a lot of credit for leading that type of action but that's another story. I'll just say this movie is an excellent early example of that style.

    To conclude I consider this movie mandatory for all fans of the genre.
  • phillip-5815 January 2008
    Warning: Spoilers
    I have to totally disagree with the poster who really disliked this film. It is certainly not your usual slash and hack, though there are plenty of fights and blood. Li Lihua shows real maturity in her acting and can fight (or perhaps dance is a more realistic term) and Li Ching is wonderful as the very pretty, ingénue student. Kiu Chong as the hero is rather put in the shade by the two strong female leads but Chan Hung Lit is always a good villain and nice to see Lee Wan Chung promoted to be a king for a change. The story is simple but works for me and the Chinese operatic interlude in the middle is unusual in this sort of film - but fun, even if the miming is really obvious. A lot of the rest of the music is ripped off from American Westerns which can be strange in places. The ending is set up for a sequel but I can't find that one was ever made. Despite previous comments, the direction and photography is above average with veteran Yueh Feng having a good eye for a shot. An unusual film, worth watching on its own terms.