Bastard Swordsman (HK 1983)

Rating: **
Review Date: 4/17/11
Cast: Norman Chu (Tsui Siu Keung), Wilson Tong

Norman Chu gets a rare starring role in this kung fu tale of revenge, but unfortunately he's not quite charismatic enough to carry the film. Yun Fei Yang (Norman Chu) is a lowly servant boy in the house of Wudang, where the students use him for live target practice and make fun of him being a bastard child. The only one who is nice to him is Wan Er, the cute daughter of the Wudang chief. Every ten years the leader of Invincible Clan challenges Wudang to a duel, and this time they're determined to crush Wudang once and for all. This results in a kung fu clan power play with a secret third party working behind the scenes, and Yun Fei Yang gets framed for every wrong-doing. Eventually, his destiny is revealed and he learns the secret Wudang silkworm style. Now he's ready to kick some ass and set things right.

While the swordplay is plentiful and well executed, the pacing is dreadfully slow and none of it seems particularly interesting. Maybe I'm just jaded at this point. Norman Chu is a good fighter and an excellent athlete, but his character delivery is stiff and unconvincing. The actress who plays Wan Er is very cute and gets to see some swordplay action as well, but she often wears ridiculous sideburns for no discernable reason. Sadly, the film devolves into silliness at the end when the power of the silkworm is finally released. Lots of crazy wirework is thrown into the mix and the silk and spinning cocoon effects are laughable. The film ends abruptly, setting the stage for a sequel as the bitter and weary bastard swordsman leaves to travel the world.