As Heroes of Song (Long hu hui feng yun, 1973) opens, the young Emperor (Cheung Ban) with his father have been captured by the northern Mongolian foe. Jing (Fang Mien) & Meng (Cheung Hei) are elder generals of the Imperial Guard.
Having gained access to the emperor's tent in the enemy camp by posing as a member of the enemy forces, Jing is able to report to his Emperor on the state of the war, & bring a message from the Emperor's brother Prince Kang.
The Emperor instructs that his brother should be enthroned so that the Sung government is not rudderless. His imperial seal is entrusted to General Jing, & the seal of his father is entrusted to General Mien. These must be delivered to Prince Kang.
It falls to the young disciples of Jing, Tian-long (Chang Pei-Shan) & Tian-fu (Lo Lieh), to protect the emperor's seal from enemies & from spies among the Sung themselves.
Assisting in the great effort is Meng Hung-erh (Shih Szu) the daughter of General Meng. She will defend the second seal.
Without both seals, instructions to the generals of the armies, & the broader business of the empire, cannot be officialized & enforced.
Prince Kang can only become emperor upon receipt of these emblems. So there will be many foes along the route trying to stop these symbolic treasures from reaching their destination.
Jing's second disciple Tian-fu was given a false seal. Tian-long has misgivings about tricking his brother, but does as he is told.
Cai Chang (Yue Fung) is a swordswoman working against the Sung. She kills General Jing seeking the seal entrusted to him. But by then the two heroes & a heroine are well away, the Emperor's jade seal with them.
Miss Cai then heads off to torture General Meng for the other seal, when the heroes & heroine arrive for another big fight scene, with Shih Szu a stand-out with her huge-eyed beauty & rapid grace dominating the action.
A third swordswoman in the tale, Yan-erh (Lee Ga Sai), is a young spy for the rebel cause. She has wheedled her way into the trust of our heroes by playing the damsel in distress.
Yan-erh as the femme fatale easily seduces second disciple Tien-fu, establishing that it was correct of Jing not to rely on him with the authentic seal.
Tien-fu is very angry when he learns he has staked his life for a false seal, feeling belittled that he was so little trusted.
Even having fallen into the clutches of the Master of Fengyun Hall, Tien-fu is too foolish to realize his situation. He does not recognize rebels when he sees them, & continues to be a risk to the mission.
Whenever Tian-fu & Tien-long fight side by side, they are undefeatable, as they were trained to join steel sword-sheaths into a mutual shield. While one uses left-hand sword & the other uses right-hand sword, clutching their joined shields by two handles, their tandem style means they can outmatch numerous foe coming from all directions.
The choreography for this novelty act doesn't overcome its silliness aspect. But of a viewer adopts a childlike naivete whilte watching them twirling about together, it can be pretty exciting.
Only by separating them can enemy agents hope to get the seals, & Tien-fu's dissatisfaction has divided them.
Wan-hang He (Richard Chan Chun) the Master of Fengyun Hall fooled & captured Tien-fu.
Yan-erh the swordsman spy & Hong-erh our heroine have a big one-on-one duel for the life of Tien-fu, a centerpiece of the whole film.
Hong-erh fights with two swords, & Shih Szu again & again proves what a great martial actress she can be, having awesome agility. When cast in this role she was supposedly a supporting character, not the star. But she has ever since been regarded as the film's real star.
The hall's master fights with an iron claw on a chain which can rip off the tops of heads & snatch away swords.
He's a very powerful foe & neither Tien-long nor Tien-fu can defeat him alone.
It's essential that Tien-fu overcome his hard feelings & injured ego to rejoin his brother-disciple in their famous tandem-style.
The stroke from head to crotch that will eventually defeat the Master of Fengyun Hall required the two heroes to regain their unity for this final assault, resulting in one of the goriest moments wuxia films have ever done, & a great spot to end the tale.
Although Heroes of Sung is standard fare as to plot, & a lot of the action more comical than intended due to too much Trampoline-fu & Wire-fu, the presence of Shih Szu & two subsidiary swordswomen characters renders it a stand-out of its kind. Remove Shih Szu from the assessment, however, & Heroes of Sung would've been merely par for the course.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl