TThe Dragon Creek (Long hu gau, 1967) is a period tale of detection. The exact period is unstated, but it's after the coming of utility poles, & before the arrival of the automobile, so horsemanship counts a lot for rural villages.
Master Guo, a peasant whose family posesses land alongside the Dragon Creek, is murdered. He lived long enough to write the name of his killer on a scrap of paper.
Unfortunately this is seen only by an illiterate peasant woman before the the killer himself gets his hands on it, & replaces it with a note identifying another man as the culprit, an innocent man driven to banditry by our villain.
The dead man's daughter Er Niu (Cheng Pei Pei) knows in her heart the killer is Master Wu, a man who has been trying to take over their land. Since the law believes it has done all that can be done, Er Niu is left angry & dissatisfied, determined to exact family revenge herself, or with the help of her brother.
Her brother Jian Guo (Chin Han) is returning from his studies, travelling with a merchant's caravan. A beautiful travellers' song is performed en route. Yu Mei (Essie Lin Chia) is a fine singer & a crush develops between her & Young Master Guo.
The young man is a sure-shot with a rifle, but his skill is for hunting pheasants, not killing men. His education has imbued him with a greater respect for the law & he does not want to be an avenger.
And as Yu Mei warns him, avengers also get killed, by other avengers. Her father has promised to use his influence to get another murder investigation started, as he is friends with a provincial police chief.
When he arrives home the whole village looks to Jian Guo for revenge against the bullying & ongoing cruelty of the Wu family. He feels a cultural pressure upon his shoulders to act.
The bandit blamed for the murder had been Jian's best friend/sworn brother. This man became a bandit after avenging the rape & suicide of his wife, leaving his young daughter Xi Zi (Lily Li) a veritable orphan to fend alone. The bandit's daughter also gets to sing a nice folksong as she goes about her occupation in the hills as a shepherdess.
Chief Ma arrives to renew the police investigation, but ends up, like others before him, completely fooled by Master Wu.
Only later will he become properly suspicious, but in the meantime, Er Niu becomes more insistent than ever that her brother act, or she will act alone.
The Wu brothers ambush young master Guo & shoot him. Wounded, he gets off two shots of his own, & being a greater shot then they, that's the end of the Wu brothers. He's carried into the hills to be carred for by his bandit brother.
Though Master Wu had sent his sons to do the killing, he nevertheless wants revenge for their deaths, saying, "Blood begets blood."
Fortunately Chief Ma with new input from merchant Master Yao & his daughter (who give audio evidence of who shot first along the mountain trail) are able to solve all crimes to everyone's satisfaction except the guilty party's, & in the end, legality wins above traditional vengeance.
Continue to next Cheng Pei Pei film:
Dragon Gate Inn, 1966
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