THE MASK OF VENGEANCE is one of those little-seen, little-known films with epic intentions. It's a colourful Taiwanese swordplay flick with a large ensemble cast and many characters, most of whom are archetypes of the genre. So there are the flying swordswomen, the one-armed cripple who turns out to be a martial arts master, the upstanding hero, etc. etc. Unfortunately, all of these characters kind of get lost in the mix with a storyline that skirts all over the place without really offering a central plot upon which to hang the action. It's almost like watching a colony of ants as everybody is very busy going about their business and interacting but you're left feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.
The film has many larger than life characters and also throws in some famous names of the time, including Nora Miao and Danny Lee, but these actors can't help it from being substandard. It starts off well, with a martial arts battle amid lots of weird masked opponents and the spectacle of a guy fighting with a giant pair of scissors. Soon after, the plot just vanishes and we're left trying to figure out just what's been going on. On the plus side, the film is certainly colourful, the huge weapons look cool and the props and sets are impressive, with the action played out over a vast Gothic landscape of cobwebbed ruins and hulking palaces. The action scenes are adequately done but never spellbinding and the whole production is damaged by an absolutely awful English dub. I found it very hard to sit through in one go and certainly won't be watching it again, as this is a sprawling mess with good intentions but poor execution.
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