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Ngai Choi Lam
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Very good swordplay picture dealing with the usual themes of fighters striving to become the best and, despite being virtuous, willing to die to prove their prowess. Li Mak-Jan is a swordsman who has wandered for a number of years searching for the reclusive master swordsman Hua. After encountering two fellow swordsmen, Li comes across his old love, who tells him that not only has their town fallen on hard times (the temple is in ruins) but, worst of all, in the time he has been away she has moved on and married another man. Turns out, her husband is quite evil, of course, and just a little bit insanely jealous as well as very interested in swords, particularly those belonging to masters. The husband sends his henchman to kill Li, but Li escapes, though seriously wounded. He is rescued and cared for by a woman who just so happens to be a friend of the reclusive Master Hua. Master Hua sends word that his daughter has been kidnapped and Li agrees to rescue the daughter, so he can both finally find Hua and repay the woman for healing him. Li rescues her and finally gets to meet Hua and challenge him. The final third of the film deals with the standard framing of Li and his final battles- an interior one over not finding happiness in proving himself the greatest swordsman in the land, and he still has that nasty husband to deal with.
While fairly straightforward in story, acting, and action, it is a very good film, solid throughout. It may lack the crazy inventiveness of Duel to the Death when it comes to the fight scenes (no 15 ft tall ninjas that break apart into separate swordsmen) but it is especially satisfying in the lack of grand fights. They are kept clean and simple, until the finale, which is a fantastic duel between Li and the husband. The direction is very good, with some keen cinematography, and sets that display some nice uses of colour. Recommended for the wuxia fan.
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