|Index||4 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Based on the book, The Little Dragon Maiden wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. In fact, it was quite enjoyable! One of Leslie's earlier movies, he was quite perfect to play Yang Guo, the feisty and hissy-fit chucking young hero. It's great to see him with the same brilliant acting abilities even for back then. Yang Guo eventually meets Xiao Long Nu, the Little Dragon Maiden, and becomes her pupil in the martial arts. Be warned, you may get annoyed by the continuing misunderstandings between the characters. Considering how long the original story goes for, they did pretty well on the timing and story editing. The costumes (though still somewhat affected by the eighties fashion) are beautifully done and acting is pretty good for the most of it. A great watch for fans or new-comers of the famous story. I personally love the ending because Yang Guo is actually left with BOTH HANDS!! (Fans would know what I mean.)
As with most Shaw Brothers productions, Kung fu elements are the most
prominent feature of the story. But this film mixes fantasy, a bit of
history and the usual combative heroes and villains in a charming
story. The hero is Yong Guo, whose father died at the hands of... (?),
who must make something of himself in life. After difficulties with one
master, he meets the Little Dragon Maiden, a young beauty who has
fantastic Kung fu/magical abilities.
Leslie Cheung, who later went on to great heights in Chinese cinema, reaching his pinnacle in Chen Kai-ge's Farewell My Concubine, plays our forlorn hero in this very early role. Those who are familiar with the Shaw Brothers will see several of the usual Shaw stars in the film. While the script at times seems to veer into realism, and then back to fantasy, it manages to combine action, romance and a few unsavory elements into a watchable whole. Not the best of the Shaw Brothers, but one that manages to be a bit different.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
LITTLE DRAGON MAIDEN is one of a handful of fantasy films that the Shaw
Brothers studio made at the onset of the 1980s. It's a low budget and
sometimes meandering production that suffers from a slow and
uninteresting middle section, which often seemed to be a problem with
the lesser films to come out of the Shaw studio. However, I also found
it to be an underrated film; perhaps not one of the studio's best, but
more than watchable all the same.
Famed Hong Kong star Leslie Cheung takes the lead role in what was one of his earliest performances after five years of bit parts and supporting roles. He plays a beggar who gets taken in by a martial arts school only to run afoul of the cruel instructors. He ends up in the hands of a magical princess who lives in a cave and has otherworldly powers. All manner of madcap events follow, including wuxia-inspired flying, encounters with a giant pot-bellied bird creature (!), and magical effects.
LITTLE DRAGON MAIDEN is a cheesy film but not without merit. The usual Shaw action is a highlight even though there's not as much of it here. The sets and costumes look as colourful as ever and Cheung's acting surpasses his fighting. The supporting cast includes roles for Chen Kuan Tai and Lo Lieh, both of whom get to do something a bit different from the norm, particularly the latter with his bizarre toad style. Regular performers Ku Feng and Sun Chien also appear. While the film suffers from not being very memorable, it's far from as bad as you've heard.
I love the Shaw Brothers.
Everyone makes a mistake.
This movie is their mistake.
It's almost an "it's so bad it's good" movie but not quite. I wince every time I think about the guy in the bird suit. Oh yes, a giant bird suit with a disgusting pot belly and a brain sort of thing sticking out on top. It is pretty hilarious when the main character stupidly runs right off the edge of a huge cliff. Literally: ahhhhhhhhhhh... But 30-minutes later he falls off the SAME CLIFF! He must have taken brain damage on the first fall, but luckily Big Bird catches him the second time.
The fight choreography is awful. They jump off the right side of the screen and out of a set, and it cuts to a fight in a wide open field with no building nearby for miles. The spinning disk weapon is done terribly with an annoying sound effect.
Cripes, I could go on and on.
Skip this one.
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