Two Great Cavaliers
Not that these older kung fu films are all the
complicated, but I have to admit that keeping track of the characters can
make your head spin. It’s like a revolving door at a department store with
a new character popping out every few minutes to do battle.
Fortunately of course, for the most part most
Angela Mao fans are not watching these films for the plot – and if it is
a good one – well that is just an additional bonus. The main focus is how
much fighting time does Angela get, how big is her role and how does she
look – because these can be dramatically different from film to film. Though
she was a big star in her time, she often got stuck in films that just
wanted to use her name – and then made little use of her.
This film is a solid entry into the Angela Mao
filmography based on the criteria mentioned above. There are a few main
characters in this one, but Angela’s screen time is certainly the equal
of anyone’s. She is involved in at least five fights that I recall and
she looked very agile throughout. She provides some terrific moves – a
wonderful backwards somersault, a kick over her shoulder, a rapid series
of swinging leg kicks to an enemy’s face and walking across some wooden
posts with death only a slip away. I should also mention that even with
my very low quality video transfer – she looks quite lovely.
The film has the basic Mings versus the Manchus
scenario – and a member of Angela’s clan has gotten hold of a list of rebels
and the Manchus want it back. Sung Wa hides the list in a tree, but is
badly poisoned. Angela and a few of her other clan members receive word
about this and need to fight their way back to the headquarters to provide
the antidote to the poison in time. And I mean fight as they are dogged
the entire way back and the film is nearly a non-stop fight at times –
but slowly the members are getting killed one by one.
The beginning of this one is a bit odd in regards
to Angela - as we first sight her galloping across the plains on a horse
- jumping off in a small town and joining the other members of the clan
- very Angela like. But then the man she secretly loves (John Liu) shows
up with his new fiancee and Angela goes into a bit of a scorned woman sulk
- not very Angela like - but she snaps out of it whenever there is fighting
to be done!
A good flick – the fighting quality seemed
pretty high to me – but the actual transfer quality of the film made it
a bit of a chore to watch at times. Oh, for the day when someone makes
an effort to restore her films.
My rating for this film: 7.5