cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh, and Cheng Lui
director: Chang Cheh
104 minutes (12) 1966
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Momentum Asia DVD Region 2 retail
reviewed by Andrew Hook
This is an early Chinese movie by Chang Chen, released as part of a series overseen by the legendary Shaw brothers that is probably for completists only. A group of farmers kidnap the daughter of a corrupt magistrate in the hope of breaking his hold over their village, but he employs bandits in an attempt to overcome the villagers, who – rather traditionally – manage to attain the services of a trio of expert swordsmen to win the day.
Original plotting isn’t the keystone to this movie, nor original dialogue, or original acting, but there are some set piece fight sequences that are worth watching to pass the time although most of these have been superseded in quality by the development of the genre since the film was made, and lack the balletic, mesmeric choreography of recent times. What is interesting – and often quite extraordinary – is the indiscriminate killing of seemingly major characters that I would have expected to make it to the end of the film. Their sudden, often arbitrary demise adds a sense of battle realism that would be lacking in a Hollywood movie.
Our three heroes (played by Jimmy Wang Yu, Lo Lieh, and Cheng Lui) are almost expressionless when it comes to their acting skills, which is unfortunate as if they had been given more of enthusiastic roles, then this movie might have wandered towards some excitement. As it happens, I wouldn’t particularly recommend this DVD to anyone other than those who are interested in Chinese film history.
The only extras are trailers for similar films from this studio.