Review Date: 5/12/13
Director: Lo Wei
Cast: Nora Miao, Patrick Tse, cameos by Shih Kien, Eddy Ko, Chen Kwan Tai Lo Wei
A disappointing outing from Nora Miao after the incredible "The Blade Spares None" (1971), but it's not her fault. The king has gone missing and is rumored to be hiding in a haunted mansion, but no one who enters the mansion leaves alive... The son of one of the victims (Patrick Tse) is a stubborn young man who wants revenge, and a meddlesome swordswoman called Comet (Nora Miao) spends the entire film trying to keep him away from the mansion. Things become interesting when the super powerful villain (Lo Wei) reveals himself and storms the mansion in a kung fu free-for-all.
This early attempt at kung fu horror is interesting from a historical perspective, but the execution is sadly lacking. The sets and lighting are moody and foreboding, and some of the ghost effects are neat, but most of the hauntings are just plain silly and make no sense. For instance, how can Nora Miao just blink in and out of thin air? I've never seen that as a kung fu skill, and she's certainly no ghost. (or perhaps, only when it's convenient) The fight scenes are good, but tend to be spoiled by unconvincing wire work and excessive undercranking. The horse scenes also seem to be undercranked to the point of absurdity. Ms. Miao's presence is wonderful, and she bounces effortlessly between her two favorite expressions: cheerful smiling and disdainful glaring. Her fight scenes are pretty good for the most part, and highlight her agility and physical grace. Unfortunately, she pulls her punches a little too much, which tends to compromise the impact of her character. Still, it's quite enjoyable to see her in such a strong and dominant role. The "Scooby Doo" ending will leave you scratching your head, but it's best not to dwell on all of the logic holes in the plot.