As China and Russia's governments are talking peace, traitorous agents on both sides seek war. Enter John Liu as a special agent sent to identify who the Russian traitor is, and who his contact is within the walls of the Forbidden City.
Snuffbottle connection - Tsui Hark borrowed some ideas for from this film for the third Once Upon a Time in China film; it is considered a classic of the late chop-sock 'fu film era (around 1980), for a number of very good reasons. The fight scenes are, for the most part, excellent. John Liu and Jang Lee Hwang, both talented kick-fighters, are neatly matched as opposing participants in a political intrigue for the future of China's relations with Russia. Meng Fei turns in his best-ever performance (as far as I'm aware), thanks in no small part to a fairly mature dramatic script, certainly far better than the scripts for most of the films in this genre at that time. Even the occasional interjections of humor are well placed. The story also shows considerable savvy as regards the historical politics of China at the end of the 19th century. The camera work and editing are solidly professional. Overall, a fine example of the genre just before the infusion of new blood (ie.e., e.g., Jackie Chan) would necessitate a rewrite of all the rules.
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