JUDGEMENT OF AN ASSASSIN (1977) is a moderately intriguing wuxia entry that could be considered as a forerunner of the director's masterpieces.
An ambitious evil leader of the 100 Poison Clan has secretly planned to reign the martial arts world through a devious plot. Aided by his powermad uncle, an evil swordsman-turned-hermit called the Bloody Devil (Chen Hui Min), who is also planning for a vengeful return, he launches a campaign of treacherous terror to turn clan against clan, systematically eliminating the stronger cliques before controlling the weaker ones. However, two of the many clan leaders have sensed the plot and assigned their young, skilled and intelligent swordsman - the Swift Sword (David Chiang) and a swordswoman (Ching Li) to uncover the truth. Fearing his plot will fail, the 100 Poison Clan leader hires a deadly assassin Mai Ta Ying (Chung Hua) to protect his interests.
When the truth is revealed, all hell breaks loose at one of the clan leaders' headquarters, culminating in a duel-to-the-death showdown between the Swift Sword, his teacher, the swordswoman and the last evil mastermind standing- the fearsome Bloody Devil, who possesses a staggering level of invincible skills, making even our heroes fight blood and thunder to defeat him!
Sun Chung's directorial flair can be seen throughout this 91-minute wuxia extravaganza: sweeping long shots, innovative angles, appropriate outdoor locations, superimposed and fade-to-black scene changes, and even a bit of slow motion captures.
Most of the fight scenes, choreographed by Tang Chia, are fast, energetic and bloody; mostly involving weapons like David Chiang's unique baton, Chung Hua's spear-headed iron chain, and Chen Hui Min's iron bangles, among others. Sun Chung seems to be following Chang Cheh's style of depicting pain and violence in the way he employs blood during fights.
The visual characterization of the lead villain Chen Hui Min, with his bald skull cap bordered with long black and strands of white hair, his raised eyebrows and long falling mustaches, creates an extremely sinister-looking villain worth noting.
The low point, while not many, is the lack of plot twists (an absolute no-no for a wuxia film).What we get instead is a sort of straight forward plot.
Though not as exciting as HUMAN LANTERNS, or as interesting as RENDEZVOUS WITH DEATH, or as dazzling as THE AVENGING EAGLE, this is still worth collecting for wuxia fans, especially those of the director's.
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