Lady With A Sword (HK 1971)

Rating: **
Review Date: 8/28/16
Director: Kao Pao Shu
Cast: Lily Ho

Obviously, a title like "Lady With A Sword" is going to draw me right in. It's a tragic tale of bloodshed and revenge, as a young woman named Fei Fei (Lily Ho) seeks to avenge the brutal death of her sister. Unfortunately, the murderer turns out to be her fiancé, which leaves her temporarily conflicted and unable to strike the killing blow. Eventually, a group of bandits and an overprotective mother finally force her hand, which quickly escalates into a bloodbath where only one person can come out alive.

Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the film is that it was the directorial debut of former actress Kao Pao Shu. It was rare to see a female action director at Shaw Brothers, and she certainly didn't pull any punches. Lily Ho tears through the film with unflinching intensity and burning rage, and is simply delightful to watch. While her swordplay is intricate and well executed, it unfortunately tends to look weak and unconvincing. The one exception is when she fights another woman with a pitchfork, which is impressively fierce. However, what she may lack as a stunt performer, she more than makes up for in her dramatic presentation. Her defiant gaze matched with a well placed twitch of an eyebrow or quiver of the lip can be more deadly and disarming than any weapon. Overall, it's a moderately entertaining heroic swordplay film with some surprisingly bloody and unapologetic action. Having a female lead is a nice touch, although the film does little else to distinguish itself from similar fare.