If anyone thinks that martial arts films are unsubtle escapism, with violence and little else, then Dirty Ho is a shining example of what they can be. Even from the point of view of the fight sequences, the two 'disguised' fights whilst drinking wine and admiring antiques are as well choreographed as any fights before and since.
However, the nature of the relationship between the Prince and Ho is very deliberate and complex. The Prince, a Manchu, and thus regarded with a great deal of suspicion (if not outright hostility) by southern Chinese, is throughout the film the model of a good Confucian, knowledgeable about all manner of fine art, wine and antiques. Ho is uncouth, rude and violent towards him, yet the superior (and distinctly Chinese) virtue of the Prince ultimately convinces him to serve him.
This is not only a obvious difference from a majority of Hong Kong films, in which the Manchu dynasty tends to be portrayed in a very negative light, as foreign, barbaric invaders, Dirty Ho provides a balance, indeed in some ways in represents the way the Manchu (Qing) dynasty, initially a foreign and, to the Chinese, barbaric people, soon was assimilated to become more Chinese than the Chinese.
And besides that, it is a fantasticly crafted martial arts film, with all the usual training sequences and an absolutely brilliant stylised fight sequence during the opening credits.
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