One of the dumbest of all Englished wuxia titles afflicts The Chivalry, the Gunman & the Killer (Xia shi biao ke sha shou, 1977) which is not only illiterate sounding, but the film has nothing to do with a gunman, being a full blown swordplay costumer.
It has also been known by the equally inapropos name Noble Ninja, though there's no ninja in it. There is an evil hunchback sorcerer who disposes of unwanted followers in a smoking cauldron. He turns out to be a Manchu bad-guy in disguise, & I suppose that's who the word "ninja" alludes to, though who can be sure when there just isn't one.
A better title not currently often used but which should have been retained is Swordsman, Protector, Assassin which alludes to Hua Yueh's hero-in-white role as the swordsman, Pai Ying's hero-in-black role as the protector (his usual past time is protecting amateur gamblers from professional cheats), & Hsu Feng as Princess Flower, the bad-girl assassin who hides her good heart.
The film itself is hardly any better than the titles, which is too bad, because it includes some of the best wuxia actors who're really good in other films; with costumes & sets that can't be faulted; & having more than your average share of swordswoman action (including from Hsia Kwan Li, Fan Dan Fung, Kong Ching Ha, & the great Hsu Feng) equal to swordsmen could alone have been great characters in a film of their own.
The convoluted plot is even more confused & silly than the usual Taiwanese liking for convolutions, & the number of "surprise twists" toward the end as we find out the villain behind the villain was not the villain but it was the original villain but no it wasn't it was a third villain but no that's the hero so it was the first villain pretending to have a boss but wait the boss is real but he's not who everyone thought because it's recurring screen-villain Lo Lieh in disguise & only finally seen in the climax as the villian behind the villain behind the villain, while the original villain, vis, the girl assassin, gets to die a heroine. Sheesh.
It's a waste of time to try too hard to sort out the plot but it boils down to something so simple that the complexities imposed on it are all the more foolish.
A gang of hard-ass swordswomen takes over Heroic Fort in a small city. These women terrorize everyone, killing willynilly, just like a gang of ugly guys except they're babes.
Two heroes, one clad in white, one in black, are sought out by an aging hero (Fang Mien) & brought in to fight the nasty beauties, killing all of them by the end. So anyone with a fetish for tough swordslinging gals and a desire to see women get slaughtered will really like this movie.
Hsu Feng plays the assassin Princess Flower, the reluctant assassin who falls in love with her enemy Ling Ngok Wa (Hua Yueh), but from dutifulness to her master continues her evil-doings instead of accepting his true devotion. Hsu Feng was the star of the greatest of all wuxia A Touch of Zen (Hsia nu, 1969) & even in this dreadful potboilier she turns in a fine performance, wasted though it is on a miserable script.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl