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.
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