Long Road To Gallantry (HK 1984)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 12/15/00
Cast: Wei Ying Hung, Rosamund Kwan, cameo by Chen Kwan Tai

A fun and exciting actioner from Shaw Brothers with a furious amount of kung fu and some very impressive wirework. A young man (Tu) with a mysterious background is sent to the outside world by his dying master. During his travels, he meets the divinely beautiful Rosamund Kwan and foils a plot by the beautiful and bitchy Wei Ying Hung to get kidnapped by a bunch of thugs that she has an agenda with. This sets up an antagonistic relationship between Tu and Hung that lasts for the duration of the film. Then the pieces fall into place - twenty years ago, the villain and his wife attacked a clan who held the secret yin and yang kung fu manuals. He managed to get one of the books, but his wife was killed in the process, leaving their infant daughter in the hands of his enemies. (now why you would go into battle with your daughter strapped to your back is anyone's guess...) It turns out that Rosamund Kwan is the orphaned daughter of the villain and Wei Ying Hung is the daughter of the original owner of the manuals, and they're both being used as pawns in a huge struggle for revenge between the various opposing factions. Fortunately, as an outsider Tu is the destabilizing factor for the entire conflict, and with his help a delicious amount of kung fu carnage goes down.

First of all, what a surprise it was to see a young Rosamund Kwan in a Shaw Brothers kung fu period film! She is quite lovely and actually has a couple of fight scenes that look pretty good, although she looks a bit stiff and was heavily doubled for the more complex sequences. The adorable Wei Ying Hung is a whirlwind of physical fury and dishes out a lot of punishment along with her delightfully bitchy exchanges with Tu. The kung fu is fast and furious and for the most part very good. The standard jumping, leaping, and flying shots are all employed along with some surprisingly complex and innovative wirework. Impressive stuff. I didn't recognize who the villain was, but he was quite convincing and fought very well. Apart from the downbeat ending, I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable kung fu outing.