5 June 2007 | ChungMo
Hokey Old, Old School Swordfighter Film
Meng Hua Ho is known for some of the more outrageous Shaw films, Black Magic, The Flying Guillotine, Oily Maniac, Mighty Peking Man and a slew of extreme horror films. Here he doing a standard wuxia film.
The leader of a security firm in ancient China, Li Zhishan, returns home to his wife and young daughter after a year away on a job. During that time his wife has been fooling around with the leader of the rival security firm, the Vicious Long Brothers, who have more crime than security on their agenda. The leader finds himself ambushed by his rivals but he suddenly pulls out the amazing Golden Dragon Blade which shatters all other swords. The evil firm retreats but Li Zhishan's wife blinds him with poison and her lover returns with his cronies. Li loses the Golden Blade and is gravely wounded. He barely escapes with his daughter and a servant. On the run from the Long Brothers, Li is rescued by a kindly herbalist and his young grandson. Unfortunately the Long gang is relentless and only when the elderly herbalist reveals his incredible swordmanship are the group able to escape again. They hide in the mountains. Twenty years pass and Li's daughter has grown into an excellent twenty something sword fighter. So has the herbalist's son. All seems idyllic until the day the daughter want to go to town for the first time. Unfortunately Li grants permission and sure enough his ex-wife and the Long brothers are still up to no good there. And to make it complicated Li has told his daughter that her mother died. And so it goes.
I have never been a fan of director Meng Hua Ho's work. He is good at finding outrageous stories (examples stated earlier) but his directorial skill is haphazard at best. Lots of bad editing and clumsy set-ups. The music in this film is non-stop and just hokey. It turns acceptable scenes into bad scenes. There are some odd plot devices. When Li reveals his sword, the bad guys know it's name immediately but seem to not know that the sword will smash their weapons. Later when a newly made super blade is revealed for the first time, everyone seems to know it's name as well! The melodrama was bad enough that I contemplated stopping the film but the pacing is snappy enough that I watched all the way through. The fight scenes are pure stage and very unbelievable. Ten bad guys all swing their swords at the same spot and a good guy stops all ten blades at once with his sword and then flings all the bad guys aside, that sort of fighting. It's fun but crude compared to what was to come from the Shaw company in a few years. There is a scene with more miniature effects then I've ever seen in Shaw film.
This was the sort of old fashioned sword film that Bruce Lee blew away a few years later with his new style of martial art movie fighting. You might like it but I can't really recommend it.