Swordswomen Three (HK 1970)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/9/18
Martial Arts Choreography: Tang Chia, Liu Chia Liang (Lau Kar Leung)
Cast: Chang Yi, Lo Lieh, Essie Lin Chia

Chu Tien Hsiang (Lo Lieh) is a cunning and ambitious young man who wants to become the world's greatest martial artist so that his Green Tiger Clan can crush all other contenders. In order to accomplish this, he steals a powerful sword from his overly trusting fiancée, Ruolan, which has magnetic properties that render metal weapons useless. Ruolan and her two sisters attempt to steal the sword back with the help of an honorable swordsman named Wu (Chang Yi), but Chu is too crafty for them and is always one step ahead of their plans. When all else fails, it ultimately comes down to Wu and Chu battling to the death in a bamboo forest.

Even though the title is "Swordswomen Three," the main conflict is between two guys, and the women are only supporting characters. However, they're formidable warriors and their fight scenes are fun to watch. It also helps that the elder sister Ruomei (Essie Lin Chia) is fiercely pretty. Lo Lieh gives a strong and well-rounded performance as a devious villain, and it's nice to see him in a role that offers more depth than just the typical white-haired bad guy who's always laughing. Chang Yi is the hero of the film, but his performance is bland and forgettable. The fight scenes and swordplay are especially good for a film from this period, although the wire work is distracting and a bit lacking. Definitely an enjoyable outing for fans of classic Shaw Brothers martial arts films.