A black-clad figure leaping through the night, as if off trampolines (because, indeed, off trampolines), sneaks into a house & is immediately detected. "Get him!" someone shouts, though "he" definitely looks like a woman.
A scene later in The Golden Knight (Jin yi da xia, 1969), a manual of secret fighting skills is successfully stolen from its possessor. The owner had been such a crappy fighter, though, he must've forgotten ever to read it. A score by Wang Fa Ling, with its driving drumbeat, makes it all seem rather important.
The woman thief now possesses the Sixth Manual of Excellent Skill: Killing Many with Poison Palm. She had previously already stolen the Fourth Manual, killing on that occasion too. She's now after the Second Manual, but it's hidden in a secret place she has not yet discovered. There are five manuals in all, protected by five clans associated with Shaollin.
The case of thefts, murders, & unnecessary cruelty is soon brought before Abbot Yishu (Wong Ching-Ho) of the Golden Knights of Shaolin. Many of this sect wear yellow with sissified golden lamme scarves.
The woman thief was masked so might or might not have been Yu Feixia (Lily Ho; aka, Ho Li-Li or Hoh Lei Lei), whose clan's Poison Palm Manual may have been stolen as well. But the Golden Knights are convinced she's the thief, for she has a rightful grudge against the Five Schools which were involved in her father's death.
The Golden Knights seek to bring her before the clan. The man they send to capture her, Lu Yinan (Kao Yuen in a pedestrian performance) of the Tong Xin Clan, has a just heart. He's willing to believe she has the noble intent of avenging her father. Only, he thinks she should find out the specific culprit or culprits, rather than kill Five Clans members willynilly.
Of course Yu Feixia really is innocent. There's a second masked swordswoman, Ai Qing (Shu Pei Pei), who has not been suspected.
A talky script without a lot of action until the final reel, The Golden Knight is not a film of the first water, though it's one of Lily Ho's better films. The choreography isn't the finest either, but again, Lily does excellently, & Shu Pei Pei's not too bad.
The film is gets a boost of interest by some truly macabre content, when faces are removed from members of the golden knighthood, & new faces fused to skulls by means of alchemy.
Wrongly accused Yu Feixia escapes the wrath of the Golden Knights, assisted by her sifu, & sets out to find the masked thief herself, in order to clear her name & learn who killed her father.
In the guise of a male scholar (without looking the least male), she travels freely & successful tracks down the masked swordswoman Ai Qing. They have a poorly staged duel, & when Yu Feixia overcomes her, they start back together so that Ai Qing can be turned over to the Golden Knights.
The killer-babe Ai Qing thinks this is a male scholar/swordsman who has defeated her. They begin journey together posing as man & wife. Indeed, our heroine is very flirtatious with the captured swordswoman, & romantic feelings seem to have been kindled in Ai Qing.
It turns out Ai Qing had been forced to kill & obtain the martial arts manuals by her father, the real villain. When the two women learn more about each other, they bond utterly, assisting one another. And it even continues to verge on the romantic couple thing.
Having an evil father does not override the Confucian requirement for filial piety, so the moment Ai Qing elects to serve the general good instead of her father's wishes, her own fate, in terms of wuxia morality, will necessarilty be unfortunate.
When the top villain is at last revealed, the two women present a united front in a cat & mouse chase punctuated by mediocre fight action, until the arch villain dies in slow-motion photography.
This is a fun film with near-classic qualities for whoever shares my delight in swordswoman action. But it's no comparison to Cheng Pei Pei's best films, & probably wouldn't win over new wuxia fans if The Golden Knight were the best example of the genre they'd ever seen.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl