6.5/10
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5 user 1 critic

Legend of the Fox (1980)

Fei hu wai chuan (original title)
Chin Siu Ho plays a young man who believes himself to be an orphan. Until one rainy night when he and three different men find themselves taking shelter from the storm in the same place.

Director:

Cheh Chang

Writers:

Louis Cha (novel), Cheh Chang | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Siu-Ho Chin ... (as Hsiao-Hao Chien)
Sheng Chiang
Linda Chu ... (as Hsiang-Yun Chu)
Phillip Chung-Fung Kwok ... (as Tsui Kuo)
Feng Lu
Helen Poon ... (as Ping-Chang Pan)
Min-Yi Huang Min-Yi Huang ... (as Min-I Huang)
Li Wang
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Shu Gei Chan ... (as Shu-Chi Chen)
Yung Chan Yung Chan
Han-Kuang Chen Han-Kuang Chen
Hung Chen Hung Chen
Kwok-Keung Choi Kwok-Keung Choi ... (as Kuo-Chiang Tsai)
Mai-Li Chou Mai-Li Chou
Kin Ping Chow
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Storyline

Chin Siu Ho plays a young man who believes himself to be an orphan. Until one rainy night when he and three different men find themselves taking shelter from the storm in the same place.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

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based on novel | See All (1) »

Genres:

Action | Drama

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Connections

Remade as Xin fei hu wai chuan (1984) See more »

User Reviews

LEGEND OF THE FOX – Plot-heavy adaptation of Louis Cha swordplay saga
16 November 2008 | by BrianDanaCampSee all my reviews

LEGEND OF THE FOX (1980) is one of seven films director Chang Cheh made in collaboration with screenwriter Ni Kuang that were based on novels by Jin Yong (aka Louis Cha). The two men displayed quite a knack for condensing Jin Yong's sprawling epic stories of the martial world of Ancient China into exciting, emotionally engaging two-hour movies, as evidenced, in particular, by the Brave Archer series, four films (all reviewed on this site) based on "Legend of the Condor Heroes" and "Return of the Condor Heroes." Others in this group were THE SWORD STAINED WITH ROYAL BLOOD (1981) and ODE TO GALLANTRY (1982). LEGEND OF THE FOX is not quite as successful an adaptation as those films. It's got a highly convoluted plot with an abundance of characters and a partial flashback structure that takes a long time to indicate where the narrative is going. It all comes together at the end, in a deeply satisfying way, but one has to stick with it through some sequences that seem, initially, to be going off on distracting plot tangents.

Without attempting a wordy synopsis, suffice it to say that the film is about Hu Fei, the son of a swordsman hero and his wife, both of whom died right after his birth, and his quest to learn who caused his parents' deaths and avenge them properly. There are two renowned swordsmen around who had something to do with it and the young man has to confront both of them. The journey takes Hu to the domain of a poison clan and involves him with a beautiful young woman who has mastered various poisons and antidotes while coping with a treacherous uncle in the clan and his disciples.

The chief problem for me was the lack of a central character who could truly engage the audience emotionally. Young Chin Siu-ho, who was all of 17 when he made this film, has a good physical presence and handles the fight scenes superbly, but he's not able to invest his character, Hu Fei, with the necessary layering to anchor the character in some kind of emotional reality. The more experienced Fu Sheng was able to do this expertly with a similar character in the Brave Archer films and he had great chemistry with the actresses he was cast with in those films. Here, the plot tends to get in the way of developing character, since the screenplay seems to have placed a greater priority on cramming a constant stream of incidents into the two-hour running time. Chin Siu-ho would go on to become quite a renowned martial arts actor, acclaimed for his portrayals in such films as MR. VAMPIRE, TAI CHI MASTER and FIST OF LEGEND.

Three of Chang Cheh's famed "Five Venoms" actors co-star in the film--Kuo Chui, Chiang Sheng, and Lu Feng. These three also staged the swordfighting scenes and there are quite a few of them (although not really enough for a 122-minute film) and they're all very exciting to watch. Several of them involve the Hu family sword techniques and the Miao family techniques and the mastery of one or both. Lu Feng, who plays Hu Fei's father, Hu Yidao, in a lengthy flashback, has the smallest role, although it's quite an important one. He has an extended duel (which takes place over the course of several days) with Miao Renfeng (Kuo Chui), hence the Hu vs. Miao swordplay contests. The two men take great pains to compliment each other's skills and character during the course of the duel, which ends badly after treachery by a third party. Chiang Sheng plays Tian Guinong, Miao's sometime ally and sometime rival. Aside from these three, there were few familiar actors on hand.

Wong Man-Yee plays Cheng Lingsu, the young woman disciple of the King of Poison who becomes an ally of Hu Fei during the resolution of the various conflicts set in play. There's a remarkable scene in the final stretch where she immobilizes Hu Fei in order to share key information with him all while curing him of a poison attack by her uncle, a cure that comes with a very high price. It's the one scene in the film that offers a touch of pure emotion. I'm not familiar with this wonderful actress; she apparently made only a handful of films. Other interesting actresses in the film include Pan Ping-Chang as Hu Fei's mother, seen only in the lengthy flashback, and Linda Chu as a woman of dubious loyalty who leaves Miao for Tian, abandoning their small daughter to Miao to care for alone.

The film was beautifully produced on Shaw Bros.' massive soundstages with ornate sets and décor and expert studio photography. Because of its complicated plot and intertwining backstories, it's a trickier film to recommend than so many other Shaw Bros. martial arts adventures, but it has its rewards and certainly should be seen by fans of Chang Cheh's work and those interested in the cinematic adaptations of Louis Cha's novels.


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Details

Country:

Hong Kong

Language:

Mandarin

Release Date:

15 November 1980 (Hong Kong) See more »

Also Known As:

Legend of the Fox See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Shaw Brothers See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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