A City Called Dragon (Taiwan 1970)

Rating: **
Review Date: 5/8/11
Cast: Hsu Feng, Shih Chun

Another convoluted swordplay film with a nonsensical title. I never did figure out the plot, other than a spy named Shi Chan (intensely beautiful Hsu Feng) sneaks into town to steal a secret plan from the evil mayor (Shih Chun). Conspiracy and betrayals abound, and while Shi Chan's kung fu is formidable, she is eventually overpowered and winds up in jail. However, the cold-hearted mayor is reluctant to kill her, which gives her an opportunity to escape. In order to recapture her, the mayor brings in an elite assassin from the capital, which leads to a disappointing showdown that is shot out of focus and in nearly complete darkness.

More than anything, this film is a star vehicle for Hsu Feng, allowing her to do what she does best: tear up the screen with her seething hatred and menacing glare. She is a powderkeg ready to explode, and her disdainful gaze is intoxicating. Her character is wonderful, and her tough bitch resolve is sure to please any female action fan. While the camerawork is interesting and inventive, the action scenes are pretty weak. It doesn't help that the final villain is of the "evil laughter" variety, which makes the climax more campy than it should be. I'm not a big fan of Shih Chun, but he pleasantly surprised me with his thoughtfully restrained portrayal of the sinister mayor. The film is by no means a classic and it's not even that entertaining, but it's definitely worth checking out if you're a Hsu Feng fan.