The film starts out slow and unfortunately never gets off the ground, despite several well-choreographed fights towards the end. Square-jawed martial arts actor Chen Kuan-tai is the title character, known in the film as "Big Blade" Wang Wu. He's the owner of a security company whose constant efforts to thwart the unjust treatment of criminals by corrupt imperial Qing officials turns into outright rebellion when he joins a budding and idealistic official in helping reformists to evade capture. Near the end of the Qing Dynasty, the Empress Dowager is clamping down on efforts by reformists to bring an end to imperialism in China. Arrested for his subversions, Tan Si-gong (Yuen Hua) willingly gives himself up as a martyr for the cause while Wang Wu and his loyal employees plot to save him before its too late.
What really comes too late for Iron Bodyguard is the action. This collaboration between directors Chang Cheh and Baau Hok-li is definitely not one of Cheh's better films, although it shares many familiar elements. The male bonding and heroic bloodshed are in place, but the film drags hideously slow through too much chatter amid a clumsily put together drama before hitting an anti-climatic finale.
The best fight actually takes place in the end when Kuan-tai leads an ambush meant to free Yuen Hua. Kuan-tai displays great skill in dispatching countless spearmen with his "knife" (sabre). If only Lau Kar-leung and Tong Gaai could have had more opportunities to work their creative magic on choreography.
So I recommend this movie for a rainy day. I gave it 6/10 (I wanted a lil bit more action, it came so late!)
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