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As the Shaw library is restored some real treasures are finding the light of day. This one is from a director I never heard of before, Yeh Yung-tsu, but the advertising called his films "distinguished". Now I usually ignore any box advertising but this time I didn't and what a nice surprise awaited.
The films starts at a tavern as a vagrant monk comes in and sings a song. He tells a story about recently meeting a corrupt minister who is traveling with his ill-gotten treasures on a wagon. The inn is full of shady characters who all take an interest in this tale. One lone swordsman goes on the road and encounters the minister and his daughter and daughter's female servant under attack from some of the shady characters just in the tavern. He drives the attackers away and joins the minister on the road. They end up at an inn to spend the night. This is not an ordinary inn as it is run by some very evil criminals who are up to a nasty thing I won't describe here, you'll have to see. The inn keepers have some malevolent plans in store for the minister but it turns out that the minister is really the feared "Devil Whip" in disguise with his evil daughter and servant! Fights between bad guys ensue and the lone swordsman decides to join the Devil Whip in his plan to ambush the real minister when he shows up! But before that can happen all the other bad guys from the tavern show up in succession and have to be dispatched before their primary target shows up. Suddenly a mysterious young woman in white arrives who possibly could beat them all.
I had a lot of fun with this film. More then many other Shaw films recently. The pace is quick, the fights are very well choreographed (if slightly sped up at times) and the story is good. Most of the film takes place in the inn but that doesn't create any problems for the excitement. Every character is distinct and interesting. Yeh Yung-tsu shows a solid directorial style. If a comparison could be made, this film is like a cross between King Hu and Chang Cheh. There are some surprisingly gory scenes but much of the film is light-hearted with a good sense of humor.
Very recommended. I will be looking for other films from this director.
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