A rarely seen example of Taiwanese cinema from the early 1970's. Many Taiwanese films from this time seem to be lost so this could be a treat but.....
This film is a telling of the early life of legendary Chinese general Yue Fei. While he seems to have been a real historical figure, most of the stories about him are fantasy. This film is no exception. We start with a battle between a flying dragon and a golden eagle depicted with marionettes. The eagle wins and flies down to perch on the house of a woman who gives birth during a flood. The child is Yue Fei. The film cuts forward to Yue Fei as a thirteen year old living with his mother in abject poverty. He attracts the eye of a local scholar/ kung fu instructor who takes him on as a student. After passing an archery competition Yue Fei is accepted to a military school. The film cuts to his twenties, he marries and is awarded a post combating bandits. Throughout all this is the ongoing strife between the native Chinese and the invading northern tribes.
The first 40 minutes of the film is quite enjoyable as we watch the young Yue Fei grow up and gain his martial art skills. There are a few odd scenes like where the boy wrestles a smoke belching snake. The child actor is very good. Once the film cuts Yue Fei's adulthood the film flounders for the remaining hour. The adult actor is wooden compared to the boy actor and the story goes nowhere slowly. The biggest battle is the attack on the bandit hideout but the film goes on for 20 minutes after that with little in the way of action. Perhaps the decisive battle of the title is in Yue Fei's head but it's quite boring to the audience.
Not great entertainment and little in the way of kung fu action. Skip it.
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