Lady Hermit (HK 1971)

Rating: **
Review Date: 10/15/00
Cast: Cheng Pei Pei, Shih Szu, Lo Lieh

A slow and overly sentimental swordplay drama that is spruced up with some exciting and bloody swordfighting. A young and feisty swordswoman named Tsui Ping (Shih Szu) comes to town in search of legendary swordswoman Chung Kuei. Upon her arrival, she immediately demonstrates her prowess by defeating a group of bandits with her bullwhip. She is then taken in by the kind Cheng Pei Pei, who turns out to be Chung Keui incognito. Tsui Ping explains to her that she wants to become Chung Kuei's student so that she can kill a dastardly villain named Black Demon. It turns out that Chung Kuei has a score to settle with Black Demon as well, and the two women eventually join forces. And then there's Lo Lieh, a kind servant who happens to complete an awkward love triangle with the women. This plot device I could have done without. Anyway, after all of the sentimentality is dealt with, the film kicks into gear with an exhausting assault on Black Demon and his numerous forces. There's even a great scene of a suspension footbridge being cut, which bears an eerie resemblance to "Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom" (1983). A surprising, but satisfying amount of blood spraying is present in the film, and for the most part the swordplay is very good. Both Cheng Pei Pei and Shih Szu give strong and convincing performances, and their characters are crackling with intensity and defiance. I also really liked the whole female teacher takes on a female student aspect, which I don't think I've ever seen before. A slow starter, but fans of swordplay and girl fu will eventually be rewarded.