|Index||9 reviews in total|
I first saw this movie when I was 16 years old back in the 1970's
during the kung fu craze. Our local cinema in Swindon showed a Kung Fu
movie every Sunday and me and my mates used to go down and sneak in the
back door and watch the latest flick.
I remember this movies as "Girl with the thunderbolt kick", but that's a terrible title as she doesn't have much of a kick, and most of the film centers around the male lead rather than "Golden Swallow".
Nevertheless the film is truly magnificent, with wonderful panoramic shots, excellent fight sequences and a story that is easy to follow.
After searching high and low for the film years ago, I gave up, but luckily for me Celestrial Pictures purchased the whole of the Shaw Brothers Back catalogue and has now started to release these great Kung Fu movies that were thought gone for ever. A search on Ebay discovered "Golden Swallow" was available, and a week later I am watching a fully restored, digitally enhanced DVD with a crystal clear 1:235 widescreen classic.
The quality looks like it was filmed in the last couple of years, not the mid 1960's.
Grab yourself a copy, get a beer out of the fridge, sit back and have 100 great minutes of entertainment.
This film is a perfect example of why Cheng Pei-pei's characterizations
years ahead of their time. She was a truly independant and strong female
role model without sacrificing any femininity. The closest contemporary I
can think of would be Michelle Yeoh, yet Cheng did it back in the day and
some ways paved the way for stars like Yeoh.
There is a scene in this film which illustrates this point well. Cheng's character, Golden Swallow, is hurrying to save her friend's from killing each other but she's dragging another female character with her. The other woman does the cliche twist-the-ankle-while-running-and-look-pitiful move we have seen in in every cheesy chase scene. Cheng turns to her and gives her a look that says "What is WRONG WITH YOU? Why are you so helpless?! Get up and RUN!" before she practically drags her to her feet.
This is the seventh film from Chang Cheh. Still finding his style, here
Cheh is clearly influenced by concurrent chambara films from Japan.
While there are a number of signature Cheh style scenes in this film,
there many scenes that are very experimental for him especially the
opening fight that's cropped in unique ways. The photography is very
good, especially the outdoor shots and the composition is better then
in many of his later films.
While titled, "Golden Swallow", as others have noted, it really should be called "Silver Roc" or "Iron Whip vs. Flying Swords" or something like that. The character Golden Swallow is in the film but director Cheh is more interested in the disturbed swordsman played by Wang Yu. He gets to kill scores of bad guys in numerous extended scenes while the title character is involved in four short fights at the most.
Is the film good? Well it is entertaining for the most part if a bit gory (with lots of bright red paint). The martial arts are good but many fights scenes are shot with a shaky hand-held camera much like many Japanese movies from the same time. It's effective but muddies up the choreography if that's what you're looking for. The signature zoom lens Shaw style camera work doesn't really get going until the mid seventies. Shaw director Liu Chia Liang can be seen for a second or two as a villainous swordsman.
Kung-fu at its innovative best and one of the finest the genre has to offer. The Shaw Brothers produced "Golden Swallow" mixes a melancholy romance with violent martial arts caught by its handsomely earthy direction and inventively novel camera placement during the excitingly expansive set-pieces. The dazzling imagery in some sequences is marvellously projected, like the vigorous fighting craftsmanship in the woods and the vivid colour plateau accompanying it. The arresting sword fights are quick, ruthless and meticulous without a drop of sweat being spilt however blood is plentiful in its many awesome showdowns! The story's groundwork is quite simple, but well-told with its ominous edge and suitably paced even though I did find some of the editing in between sequences to be rather jumpy. The score is kinetic, but elegantly impulsive. There are illustratively able performances from the likes of Pei-pei Cheng (who provides one strong character), Yu Wang, Lieh Lo, Hsin Yen Chao and Chia-Liang Liu. Wang is quite memorable as the unstoppably cold-blooded warrior Silver Roc that really has a bone to pick, while in the quest to find his true love.
THE GIRL WITH THE THUNDERBOLT KICK (aka GOLDEN SWALLOW, 1968) is a Shaw
Bros. costume swordplay drama notable for co-starring the studio's top male
action star, Jimmy Wang Yu, with the studio's then-reigning swashbuckling
diva Cheng Pei Pei (THE THUNDERING SWORD). Wang Yu plays the notorious
killer Silver Roc and Cheng plays his childhood sweetheart Golden Swallow,
whom he hasn't seen in years (a reprise of a character the same actress
played in King Hu's COME DRINK WITH ME, 1966). Golden Swallow follows Roc's
trail of blood and is accompanied by Golden Whip Hand (Lo Lieh), who is in
love with her but helps her track down Silver Roc. Midway through the film
they all meet, but Silver Roc quickly challenges Whip Hand to a duel after
the latter condemns Roc for an earlier instance of cold-blooded killing.
That's pretty much the whole plot and it takes a long time getting to the
This film has its fans but it doesn't hold up as well as such other Wang Yu vehicles of the 1960s as ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, RETURN OF THE ONE-ARMED SWORDSMAN, and THE ASSASSIN. There are plenty of swordfights here, but they're fairly stylized, with lots of leaping around, twirling of swords, soft blows, and unconvincing fighting skills. Cheng Pei Pei has great screen presence, but she's more of a dancer than a fighter. There's an undertone of unrequited love that's rather poignant at times. Following this film Wang Yu turned to a harder-edged brand of martial arts film with THE CHINESE BOXER (1970), generally considered the first pure kung fu film.
The video transfer available in this country has Cantonese dialogue dubbed over the original Mandarin soundtrack, which remains slightly audible. The transfer is full-screen, cutting off the widescreen subtitles on the sides, making some of the dialogue difficult to decipher. The Cantonese sound mix includes music cues lifted from John Barry's soundtrack for the James Bond film YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and awkwardly plastered in over the very lovely original music track.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SILVER ROC (a.k.a. GOLDEN SWALLOW) features Wang Yu (again sporting more eyeliner than a $5 hooker) as yet another of those swordsmen whose Magic Sword Technique fells attackers by the dozens with but a single stroke. (Which is one of the reasons I prefer kung fu movies to swordplay movies: taking a swipe at a crowd of extras with a sword and having them all topple like tenpins- spurting blood- is nowhere near as interesting as some good, old-fashioned hand-to-hand combat.) We see Wang Yu in action early on against a band of mountain bandits, whom he proceeds to lay waste with sword and darts. He leaves behind his calling card, a golden dart- suggesting it's all the handiwork of Golden Swallow (Cheng Pei Pei). While she pines for Roc, he spends his spare time in a brothel. Oh, he composes a poem to her (and never fails to leave HER calling card behind at the scenes of carnage he's unleashing), but he DOES live in the brothel... When he singlehandedly decimates the local branch of The Golden Dragon Clan, he once again leaves behind her calling card. Golden Swallow, meanwhile, has to carefully fend off the subtle amorous advances of Golden Whip, Han Tao (Lo Lieh, in perhaps his most sympathetic role ever). We glimpse David Chiang in a bit part as a brothel guard, but, despite the title, this one's all about Wang Yu. The "Coup De Grace" move he's known for (an air-borne attack, courtesy of some Old School wirework) is seen only once, and it doesn't quite live up to its reputation. Not Chang Cheh's best by a mile, but not terrible, either.
Touted as the sequel to King Hu's Come Drink With Me starring Cheng Pei
Pei, this movie is anything but. Except for the return of Pei Pei's
Golden Swallow role, Chang Cheh's movie doesn't share any similarities
with King Hu's original, clearly stamping his own take on his movie
utilizing the lead character from Come Drink With Me, and relegating
her to supporting role status.
As a fan of the original, this is downright disappointing, as I had expected to see Pei Pei kick some serious rear again as the fabled swordswoman. Instead, what we get is a story involving a love triangle of sorts, with costars Lo Lieh as Golden Whip Han Tao, a man who saved Golden Swallow from bandits and nursed her back to health, and Wang Yu as a beau from long time ago, who now calls himself The Silver Roc. The Drunken Cat, with whom Golden Swallow rode into the sunset with, is clearly forgotten and totally written out.
In actuality, this movie can be renamed The Silver Roc. The story centers on this figure, an orphan bearing a scar on the forehead similar to Harry Potter's, and is one of the fellow disciples to Golden Swallow's teachers. Disappearing one night to seek revenge on his family's murderers, he resurfaces to look for Golden Swallow, and does so by killing villains in her name, in an attempt to lure her out of seclusion. Being the self-proclaimed number one swordsman with an attitude helps too, and not before long, our trio will meet, with Golden Swallow being indecisive about both alpha males, that they have to duke it out to settle scores.
In Chang Cheh's signature ketchup blood style, this movie doesn't lack in the gore department, with really bloody scenarios, dismembered bodies, slashes to face and an inspiration to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, albeit done in a more straightforward manner. But some of the kung fu moves seemed recycled from One Armed Swordsman, especially Wang Yu's Silver Roc, who holds his sword akimbo similar to his One Armed days. And his much revered "Coup De Grace" killer move was never seen until the finale, and that too was too weakly executed and laughable. I wondered too about numerous scenes where characters liked to leap out of windows, clearly to a mat at the bottom, out of the screen. But one thing's a bonus, and that's having plenty of outdoor shots versus indoor studio ones, which boosts production values a little.
Still, it's a decent martial arts flick, but one which could have been miles better. With Wang Yu hogging too much of the limelight with his character in this movie, it suffers by neglecting the other leading characters by Lo Lieh, and especially Cheng Pei Pei, because the movie, after all, is named after her Golden Swallow, or in the original English title, it's the Girl with the Thunderbolt Kick (apparently it's a misnomer, she doesn't have that skill, nor executed any recognizable kicking moves).
If anything, watch out for a young Wu Ma as Hu Zhen, a supporting character and friend of Golden Swallow and Han Tao. Nothing memorable, but just a getting a kick out of recognizing a star (to me at least) in his earlier youthful looking days.
This movie quite surprised me. Not only because it's such a great one
but because I liked it even better than its predecessor "Da zui xia" as
"Da zui xia" was already a surprising good movie, that besides was a genre defining one. It was one of the first 'modern' Kung Fu movies, with plenty of sword fights and action in it. But this is perhaps why I liked this sequel better; it's even more action filled! Not only does the movie feature some amazing and spectacular fight choreography in it but it's made even more spectacular and amazing thanks to the way it got shot. It has some absolutely wonderful cinematography in it, especially during all of its fight scenes. I also quite liked the hand-held camera-work during some of the sword-fights. I'm not too sure about but I believe that this is something I have never seen before in a genre movie like this.
Because the movie is so action packed, it becomes a truly entertaining one to watch, with a pleasant fast pace to it as well. The story still finds some room to throw in a love-story as well but it does this in a quite original way. It's a sort of love triangle love-story that plays out nicely for its story.
The character played by Pei-pei Cheng gets pushed somewhat more to the background this time but it's OK, since the movie brings in a lot of more awesome characters to replace her with. What I like about the character's is that you're constantly changing your opinions about them. Some of them start out as villains, who eventually turn out to be good guys after all.
It's not featuring a that complicated or well written story but it's serving its purpose well for the movie. It takes the movie to lots of beautiful looking places, where we meet all kinds of awesome characters, who often get into a fight with each other. Seriously, I can't see how someone could not like this movie, even when you aren't very familiar with the genre yet.
It's simple entertainment but oh so well made and brought to the screen!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Released in the Philippines with the title: The Golden Swallow,the film
follows a well worn formula in Chinese swordplay movies. The character
of Jimmy Wang Yu has a formidable secret fighting method called the
Dragon's Flight or whatnot. He executes it with a high flying leap and
slashes too quick for the eye to follow. Unfortunately, his arch-enemy
has devised a formula counter-attack called The Dragon's Convulsion.
Always in immaculate white with a gleaming silver sword (he is Silver Roc, after all), the reed thin and handsome Wang Yu is at his prime in this movie. He pines for his lost love, a female swordfighter called Golden Swallow. The last scenes where a seriously wounded Wang Yu fights to the last is one of the best choreographed swordplay scenes ever.
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