After the death of Marshal Yuen, a princess is arrested by a constable whilst training with her kung-fu teacher. They are soon drawn into a conflict which centres around the mysterious man ... See full summary »
After the death of Marshal Yuen, a princess is arrested by a constable whilst training with her kung-fu teacher. They are soon drawn into a conflict which centres around the mysterious man with the golden snake sword - an incredibly powerful magical weapon. Golden Snake Man is seeking revenge on the castle of the Wan family, but Wan has married his former lover. The Five Poison Sect of fighting (and flying) women have entered into an uneasy alliance with the forces of the Manchu Master Wu to steal the golden snake sword. Wan's daughter is torn between her father and her love of the constable. The constable must decide between his brotherly love for the Golden Snake Man and his sense of justice. Meanwhile a blind old man seeks to return the powerful Sword Stained With Royal Blood to the son of Marshal Yuen. Written by
Brian Rawnsley <email@example.com>
Those unfamiliar with the "Martial World" sub-genre of kung fu films will be unprepared for the spectacle about to unfold. Largely based on popular Chinese novels, this genre was very popular in the 1960's and 70's finally dying out with the demise of the Shaw studio. Set in a world far removed from reality these films feature super martial artists and their clans battling for fighting supremacy. Compared to your standard kung fu films, these movies can be impenetrable to non-Chinese audiences. The story was done once before by the renown Chang Cheh but Idoubt that it was anything like this movie.
Yuen Biao plays a constable who gets inadvertently involved in the quarrels of several martial clans while he brings a "thief" to justice. The "thief" is a beautiful princess who had decided to have "fun" pretending to be a thief and getting arrested. Along comes the Golden Snake Man who is slightly crazed and is primed for revenge against the leader of the clans, Lord Wan, who massacred Snake Man's village and stole his wife ten years earlier. A "Poison" clan run by women, a crazy old master who bounces around like a ball, and a Manchurian who seems to have magnetic powers over swords, complete the chaos.
Much like earlier "martial world" films, the parade of characters is dizzying. Familiarity with the novel might help but translations are not easy to come by. The subtitles don't help at all with lots of pronoun mistakes and strange choices of English. And like the earlier films there are lots of incredible martial art feats that require wires and animated rays. Most of the fights are filmed in 1990's style with lots of cuts, wide angle camera shots and movement that doesn't really connect but it goes so fast that it doesn't really matter. The first big scene has a flying log ship, with ninjas riding on top, that swings into the scene and rams into a pagoda. The cables the ship hangs from are very visible and nothing is done to pretend that they aren't there. This sets the tone for the whole film. Watch it but woe to anyone who takes it seriously.
The photography is very good and the actors are all very good given the crazy material. The film is paced very well and never bores. The attempts at melodrama almost work but the craziness surround the drama makes it hard to be involved. There's lots of fun fight scenes but little in the way of real martial arts. The finale is partially shot in an amazing cavern with the actors flying very high over actual rock formations. The two drawbacks are the confusing story and the abrupt ending, but this is very traditional for the genre as well.
Very fun light film watching. Recommended.
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