Review Date: 4/8/10
Martial Arts Choreography: Ching Siu Tung
Cast: Lo Lieh
A tedious swordplay drama with an all-star cast and superb fight choreography from master Ching Siu Tung. After Yang Tsung Pao dies on the battlefield, the women of the Yang family decide to seek revenge. His teenage son is the only surviving male in the clan, and he too joins the fight. Of course this is extremely confusing because the son is played by an actress who looks like a girl, talks like a girl, acts like a girl, and dresses like a girl, but is treated like a boy. Very odd, and I fail to see how this plot mechanic works or why the filmmakers thought it was necessary. Anyway, the Yang widows storm the bad guys' fortress and manage to defeat the villains through trickery, righteousness, and shear force of will.
The performances and production values are quite good for this lush period piece, but the drama is drawn out and the pacing is quite sluggish. While the fight choreography is extremely good and bloody (especially considering the age of the film), the battle scenes are also overly long and tedious, which is unfortunate. The film also features some outrageous scenes, including a human bridge made by people linking their arms and legs together across a chasm. Of course, disassembling the bridge is even trickier than putting it together, but they somehow manage. Definitely a curiosity. Unfortunately, the whole thing never seems to gel and the movie fails to emotionally engage the audience because the characters are so stiff and wooden. Overall, it's somewhat entertaining, but ultimately disappointing.