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A Chinese man (Liu) marries a Japanese woman through an arranged marriage and manages to insult all of her Japanese martial arts family by issuing a challenge to her that is misinterpreted ... See full summary »
After defeating The Long-Armed Devil and his armies, our nubbed hero has been living in retirement as a farmer, but circumstances causes him to come out of retirement and take on The Eight ... See full summary »
Chi Ming-sing is a former disciple of a gang run by overlord Yoh Xi-hung. Yoh's disciples hunt Chi relentlessly as he travels on a soul-searching journey. He comes to the aid of a seemingly... See full summary »
Lei Li lost his right-arm in a sword duel with the master of a martial arts school, long ago. Now, he is able to defend himself well with just his left arm, and kung fu techniques. That he ... See full summary »
The Yang family was the loyal strong-arm of the Imperial army. But a jealous General betrays the Eilte Spearman and their father to the opposing Mongol army. After an ambush of a battle, ... See full summary »
Chen Kuan-tai exuded incredible power on screen, which his directors used to great advantage in this fight-filled follow-up to the smash hit The Boxer From Shantung -- which culminates in ... See full summary »
LIFE GAMBLE is the tale of a simple blacksmith (Kuo Chue) with extraordinary martial arts skills who is entangled in a life and death struggle between swordsmen, thieves, con artists, a ... See full summary »
Ying Ke-Feng, head of Peerless Manor, is an expert swordsman whose escort business transports 200,000 taels of silver to the capital each year. This year, however, he is afflicted with an ... See full summary »
THE FLYING DAGGER Middling Shaw Bros. swordplay adventure
THE FLYING DAGGER (1969) has two fine stars in Lo Lieh and Cheng Pei Pei and is somewhat redeemed by a love story in its final third, but remains a lesser effort from top-ranked Shaw Bros. director Chang Cheh that suffers from a run-of-the-mill script about warring clans. As Yu Ying, Cheng Pei Pei is a righteous swordswoman who kills a rapist-murderer in a pre-credits sequence (having gotten there too late to actually prevent the rape and murder), incurring the wrath of the miscreant's father, a villain who heads the Green Dragon Clan and wields some lethal throwing knives. The Clan targets Cheng Pei Pei's family and forces them to go on the run. Eventually, as the beleaguered family members try to protect Cheng's wounded father in a remote inn, the Green Dragon Clan closes in. Only the intervention of Yang Qing (Lo Lieh), a lone knife fighter, on the side of the good guys, prevents total disaster.
The fight scenes involving swordplay and abundant knife throwing are consistently entertaining and occasionally bloody, but rather simply staged (by Tang Chia and Lau Kar Leung) and not terribly imaginative. Fortunately, things take a romantic turn in the final third and Cheng Pei Pei and Lo Lieh begin to share some tender, emotional scenes that distinguish the film from most Cheng Pei Pei vehicles of the period. These are good actors, with strong chemistry, and these scenes managed to finally get me engaged with the film. On those occasions when he had the opportunity to play a romantic lead, Lo Lieh was quite good at it. These two also co-starred in THE LADY HERMIT and their characters were in love there as well. Lo also loved Cheng in GOLDEN SWALLOW (1968), also directed by Chang Cheh (and also reviewed on this site). But in that film, Cheng was a much more formidable character and was more devoted to a rogue hero named Silver Roc, played by Jimmy Wang Yu, which created more interesting layers of escalating dramatic tension than we get in this film.
Shaw Bros. veteran Yang Chih-ching, who normally played older officials or patriarchs in these films, plays the head of the Green Dragon Clan, one of a handful of action roles I've seen him do. (He was only about 50 here.) Ching Miao plays Cheng's father. Various familiar kung fu faces pop up, including Cheng Lei, Wong Kwong-Yue, Ku Feng, Cliff Lok, Wu Ma, Yuen Cheung-Yan, Lau Kar Wing and, in a small role as a fighter for Cheng Pei Pei's clan, David Chiang, who would move up to major roles in Chang Cheh's DEAD END and HAVE SWORD WILL TRAVEL the same year.
On the Celestial R3 DVD of this film, one of the special features indicates that the film was shot in Japan and includes a still showing Mount Fuji in the background. While there are a couple of unusual location shots that could indeed have been shot in Japan (none of which show Mount Fuji), most of the film is clearly shot on the Shaw studio's familiar soundstages and backlots in Hong Kong.
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