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This is not only among the top films of its genre, its one of the real B-movie gems of world cinema.
This film has everything - an honest to gosh detective mystery; a noble action hero who is also highly intelligent and insightful, supported by a capable but pesky female side-kick; a clever villain who somehow retains his humanity; swashbuckling sword-play kung-fu; witty repartee (the poem-contest really brought a warm smile to my face, but the dialog is sharp throughout); friendly enemies as well as friends who turn out to be enemies; plot-twists and stratagems throughout; gorgeously atmospheric sound-stage cinematography as good as any of the best from Shaw Bros.; the acting is neat, very neat; there are beautiful women for the guys, handsome men for the gals. There's something for everyone here - even a touch of tragedy at the end.
While the twists and turns may leave one confused at first, especially among Westerners unfamiliar with the rather complicated traditional Chinese mystery, give it time. Just let the film roll on and it offers rewards aplenty - amusing, exciting, intriguing by turns, and never dull.
One of the more truly entertaining productions from late period Shaw Bros.
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