Whiplash (HK 1974)

Rating: *
Review Date: 6/2/19
Cast: Cheng Pei Pei

"You could call us heroes. Or thieves. Whichever you prefer."

An old man goes missing while leading some government officials to a hidden cache of treasure. When a group of bandits attack the old man's house, his daughter Whiplash (Cheng Pei Pei) ties them up and forces them to help rescue her dad. Ultimately, several parties end up vying for the treasure, and it's a fight to the death because no one is willing to share.

Wow, this movie is bad. The story is awful, the characters are unlikable, and the humor is awkward and distasteful. The film's one redeeming quality is the beautiful location shooting, which includes some amazing caves, cliffs, and waterfalls. Cheng Pei Pei is adorable as always and her fight scenes are fairly entertaining, although they tend to become tiresome after a while. The highlight has to be when she blinds someone with a couple of well-placed jingle bells. What's interesting about the fight choreography is that it incorporates a lot of grappling and throwing techniques (judo, karate, wrestling?), which is highly unusual for the genre and especially in a period piece. The film is full of awful moments, but there are two in particular that really stand out. The first is a cringe-worthy musical number, where Cheng Pei Pei sings about tiger bone wine and the merits of eating tiger dicks. Um, okay... The second is when she's gazing in wonder at the various treasures, which re-uses the same focus pull technique at least a dozen times in succession. It's laughably bad, and seemingly goes on forever. It's like the director said "Hey, we've got this really neat photography trick. Let's use it twelve times in a row!" Twice would have been okay. Three times is pushing it. But twelve? Gah.

On top of all that, the film hasn't aged well and the colors are considerably degraded in spots. Also, the remastered audio is terrible. It uses that annoying reverb effect that you hear in a lot of Hong Kong DVDs that were remastered in the 1990's. I really wish they wouldn't do that, as it ruins the viewing experience. Unless you're a die-hard Cheng Pei Pei fan, I'd recommend skipping this one.