Review Date: 3/15/10
Cast: Angela Mao, John Liu, cameos by Leung Ka-Yan, Chan Sing
What a confusing mess this is! In traditional dramatic swordplay style, this is little more than a meandering collection of ambushes and double-crossings. Leung Ka-Yan is a rebel who steals an important list from Chan Sing, but is fatally poisoned in the process. In order to save him, his friends all decide to travel back to their home village and use their special poison curing techniques on him. Unfortunately, they get sidetracked along the way due to numerous ambushes and escalating feuds within the group. Days, or weeks pass and the group still hasn't made it back home to save the ailing Ka-Yan. When they finally do get there, we're forced to watch them all perform a ridiculous and lengthy Phoenix kata in order to evade all of the deadly (and silly) traps that protect the village. We see this at least four times. Leung Ka-Yan is cured just in time for more betrayals, and the final deadly battle takes place in the woods against Chan Sing and his lackeys. The film is dreadfully slow and unnecessarily confusing, with flat characters and a weak plot. The kung fu is good to very good, but it's not overly inspiring. The principal good guy (John Liu) only has one schtick, and that's his very flexible and versatile right leg. This gets boring to watch after his first few fights. Fortunately, cute and spunky Angela Mao is on hand to liven things up, and her intense fighting presence is a joy to watch. She looks great and fights very well, but it's sadly not enough to save the film. However, it does improve on multiple viewings. Or perhaps that's because I've seen much worse films since I originally saw it.