6.1/10
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2 user 5 critic

Shen jian zhen jiang hu (1967)

A clan sends out two of their members (Lo Lieh and Chang Yi) to retrieve a powerful sword to prevent its misuse. Along the way they encounter a skilled swords-woman who is also after the ... See full summary »

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Yi Chang ...
Pei-Pei Shu ...
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Su Chao-wu
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Du-bi Tao-chang
Li Ching ...
Ke Erh
Wen Chung Ku
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Wang Yi-tien
Ti Tang ...
Kwan Tien-chang
Mien Fang ...
Su Ting-feng
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Hsiung Chao ...
Su Fu
Lei Cheng
Ming Chiu
Li Jen Ho
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A clan sends out two of their members (Lo Lieh and Chang Yi) to retrieve a powerful sword to prevent its misuse. Along the way they encounter a skilled swords-woman who is also after the sword (Cheng Pei-pei). A complex love tragedy develops when she falls in love with one of the men and thoughtlessly wounds the other. Though the sword is found it becomes secondary to the love story and the guilt of the woman over her hasty and violent actions towards her lovers clan. Written by Fred Cabral <ftcabral@hotmail.com>

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San kim jan kong woo  »

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2.35 : 1
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Remade as Wu du tian luo (1976) See more »

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Shaw Bros. swordplay adventure with a heavy dose of romance
7 July 2017 | by (Bronx, NY) – See all my reviews

THE THUNDERING SWORD (1967) starts out as a fairly standard Shaw Bros. adventure about rival clans in Old China and the quest for a mystical sword, with lots of deadly encounters with one faction or another, but in its second half it plays out more like a romantic melodrama as the two leads try to chart the course of true love despite several obstacles, not least of which is the hero's being accused of a mass murder that the heroine actually committed. Hero Yu (Chang Yi) represents the "proper" clan as he sets out at the film's beginning with his partner, played by Lo Lieh, to find the Thundering Sword, but are separated, leaving Lo Lieh alone when, due to a misunderstanding, he is poisoned by a traveling swordswoman, So Jiau Jiau (Cheng Pei Pei), who then, realizing her mistake, applies the antidote and hires a security firm to transport the wounded man back to his clan. Jiau Jiau, a leader of the "evil" Caterpillar Clan, meets Hero Yu and falls in love with him. Long story short, Lo Lieh is left for dead and Jiau Jiau, dressed as a man, attacks the security firm's headquarters as they prepare a trap for Hero Yu and massacres all the employees. Hero Yu comes on the scene afterwards and is blamed for it, causing all kinds of troubles among the rival clans. As Yu and Jiau Jiau grow closer, will she come clean on her role in the poisoning of Lo Lieh and the massacre of the Yue men? Complicating matters is the presence in Yu's clan of a female member, played by Shu Pei Pei, who also loves Yu.

Hero Yu is stalwart and pure-hearted, but also rather naive and inexperienced. It probably helps that Chang Yi plays him in such a stolid manner, whether deliberate or not. Jiau Jiau is the more aggressive one and actually steers them into marriage plans, despite the fact that both of their clans are sure to be opposed. It's rare for a love story to take such precedence in a film like this. While Jiau Jiau is forceful with opponents, she's quite gentle and affectionate with Hero Yu and deferential towards her father, the clan chief, and other elders. When she encounters Lo Lieh again, as he recuperates, she apologizes for what she did to him and pleads for forgiveness in quite a powerful and dramatic scene. Later, at the big "trial" scene, as the rival clans wait for sentence to be passed, with poor Yu tied up, Jiau Jiau enters the fray and confronts the accusers. There's no big action set-piece at the end, but instead a set of deeply emotional exchanges.

Cheng Pei Pei is excellent here and the role represents a rare opportunity for her to show her versatility as an actress. Because of the formal nature of the many encounters she has and the roles she has to play before her father and the clan elders, she has to adjust her voice and speak in different tones in different scenes. When she opens up and tells the truth to Hero Yu and Lo Lieh, in separate scenes, it's the real Jiau Jiau and we see just how sincere she is and remorseful over the acts she committed. I was very moved by her performance.

In addition to those already mentioned, the cast is filled with Shaw Bros. regulars, including Tien Feng, Ku Feng, Chen Hung Lieh, Wu Ma, Cliff Lok and, in the role of Cheng Pei Pei's maid, Ching Li, who would play Cheng's character in Chor Yuen's remake of this film nine years later, THE WEB OF DEATH (1976), which I've also reviewed on IMDb.

There are several songs on the soundtrack, including one beautiful love song performed for Hero Yu by Jiau Jiau, although the singing voice is provided by an uncredited singer. The rest of the soundtrack includes music cues from other sources, including Ravel's "Pavane for a Dead Princess" and Miklos Rozsa's theme music from THE V.I.P.S (1963), both lovely tunes to be sure, but not quite in fitting with the tone of this film.

Director Hsu Cheng-Hung also directed the "Red Lotus" trilogy starring Jimmy Wang Yu: TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS, TWIN SWORDS, THE SWORD AND THE LUTE, all of which I've also reviewed on IMDb.

The big fight scene in which Jiau Jiau takes on the Yue security film is quite exciting and well-staged, but there's nothing comparable in the rest of the film. For those who prefer Cheng Pei Pei in full fighting mode throughout, there are plenty of Shaw Bros. films with her that deliver lots of action, including BROTHERS FIVE, LADY HERMIT and THE SHADOW WHIP. For those who want to see the full range of her skills as an actress, THE THUNDERING SWORD is a good place to start.


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