The Jade Faced Assassin

 think I read that currently to enter MENSA, the candidate no longer has to have an I.Q. higher than 98% of the population, but instead be able to follow and articulate convoluted martial arts tales such as this. I clearly am not getting into MENSA any time soon. Heck, I never even figured out who the jade faced assassin was. In fact no one had a jade face nor was anyone an assassin as best as I could figure out. And it wasn’t until the last two-minutes of the film that I knew if the Lily Ho character was a man or a woman. And just what in tarnation is the Creed that everyone is chasing after. These troubling points of confusion and so much more continue to vex me long after finishing the film. But let’s try and sort this out.

A wagon with a man, wife and two infant twins are traveling a lonely road when they are set upon by The Weird Four of Lao Shan. Now if they named themselves that or it was applied by others isn’t very clear – but they are in fact a bit odd though soon three of them are dead. They are after the Creed. So are the two sisters of the Chang Cheun Clan who soon show up to kill the Weirds as well as the husband and wife. Considering that the woman is their sister, this is not a very sisterly act, but they think that the husband and wife have taken the Creed with them. As it turns out they haven’t. So the elder sister (Essie Lin Chia) comes up with an amazingly devious plan that will take 18-years to play out. They take one child with them and leave the other – knowing that someday they will have to fight to the death not knowing they are siblings and thus the sisters will get their revenge! Wow. That’s a plan of all plans. Wouldn’t it have been easier just throwing them into a sack and putting it in a river? How do they know that someday they will meet and duel to the death – because this is wuxia, silly!

Soon along comes Hero Lian (Ku Feng) who is the uncle of the dead man and he takes the child with him and goes looking for Chang Zhai who he thinks is responsible for the death of his brother. This takes him to Happy Valley, which is not a rest home but is in fact a home for the most vicious villains in China! Being the nice guys they are they beat up Hero Lian and damage him so badly that they take away his kung fu powers and plan on killing him until the town doctor persuades them to leave the fellow with him so that he can use him as a guinea pig for his healing skills. The child is taken in by the group and taught all of their various martial art powers so that someday the child can help them. So as the years pass they teach Siao Lu-er “Heaven Full of Stars”, “Bloody Sand Palm”, “Piercing Sword” and of course what education would be complete without “Fairy Sprinkles the Flowers”. Unfortunately for themselves they neglected to teach the child badness – and so Siao Lu-er grows up a happy-go-lucky kid who only wants to find the killer of mom and dad and seek revenge on him – every child’s dream.

Eighteen years pass and meanwhile Hero Lian is still being healed by the doctor (Yan Jun – director of this film as well) – he must have a hell of a long-term insurance plan! Finally, Siao Lu-er starts her journey to look for Chang Zhai (Chang Pei-shan) and soon spots a young woman being surrounded by some swine – she kills them all but is then immediately surrounded again by the Invincible Heavenly Swordsman who are looking for a treasure map. The woman is asked by them how much she wants for it – her response “Your lives” does not sit well with them and they attack her and get the better of her only to have Siao Lu-er intervene and kill them. The woman (Pan Ying-tzu), gets all dreamy-eyed and develops a crush on Lu-er and is a bit put out when her brother, Hua Yu Chun (Kao Yuen) shows up and tries to kill Lu-er. Why? Because he thinks Lu-er is responsible for the stolen Creed. Clearly one of these two must be the missing sibling – but which one?

Story twist is piled upon story twist until the final duel between Lu-er and Yu Chun – when it is finally revealed that Lu-er is a woman disguised as a man – the sister is properly disappointed – but then oddly so is Yu Chun who has also grown an affection for Lu-er but still feels the need to kill him – it’s one of those wuxia things. It’s all very messy but rather entertaining – like trying to follow a chess game after a night of heavy drinking. None of the main actors are martial artists and so that aspect of the film is rather tame with loads of jumps, clanging swords and catching darts in your mouth – all that training comes in handy. Fun and quite silly, but it’s nice seeing Lily Ho dominating a martial arts film.

My rating for this film: 7.0