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