The Cavalier (HK 1978)

Rating: *
Review Date: 10/27/00
Alternate Title: Dancing Kung Fu
Director: Joseph Kuo
Cast: Lung Jun Er, cameos by Lo Lieh, Nancy Yan

Spectacularly bad. The first twenty minutes of the film features an old man trying to marry off his adorable granddaughter, Ching Er (Lung Jun Er). The rules are quite simple: whoever can beat Ching Er in a martial arts competition wins her hand in marriage. And so she takes on a bunch of anxious suitors, including twin brothers, a fat giant, a dwarf with nunchakus, a hideously ugly man, and a buddhist monk in disguise. Then two strangers come along and witness the spectacle and one of them decides to give it a try, but it's his devilishly handsome partner who steps in and finally defeats the girl. Sadly, he has no interest in marrying the young beauty and is saved by the bell when a group of Ching soldiers come chasing after him and his friend. The two men turn out to be Ching rebels, and the film follows them as they try to steal a list of other known rebels from the Ching emperor. And the entire time they are mercilessly dogged by the old man and his granddaughter. This nonsense finally erupts into a big kung fu showdown against white-haired villain Lo Lieh, with absurd results. You see, he uses the dreaded "joy and sorrow" kung fu technique, which causes him to giggle like an idiot or sob like a spoiled child while he's fighting. The only thing that can defeat the technique is the yin-yang technique, where a man and woman attack in perfect unity. Naturally this turns out to be Ching Er and her reluctant fiancé, and together they finally squash the silly bad guy.

Wow, what an embarrassing film, and the whole martial arts tournament at the beginning is downright painful to watch. The humor is forced and unfunny, although I did burst out in hysterical laughter at one point when a man pissed in his pants after being beaten by Ching Er - it looked like someone had turned on a garden hose in his trousers... Then during the slow motion operatic climax, Lo Lieh dispatches one of his opponents by biting off his finger and spitting it back at his attacker with such force that it impales his throat and kills him. Wow. Overall, the kung fu in the film is plentiful and fairly decent, but nothing stands out as remarkable. What does stand out is the extremely cute and perky Lung Jun Er who is a pure joy to watch, even though she's much more of a gymnast than a fighter. At the end of the film, she is joined by another beautiful swordswoman (Nancy Yan?) who has a great bitchy look along the lines of Julia Nickson or Pauline Chan. Thankfully, it's the girls that save the film from complete mind-numbing tedium.