Swift Sword (Qing xia zhui feng jian, 1980) starts out as an apparent remake of the director's earlier Jade Raksha (Yo luo cha, 1968) but without the female avenger. It soon takes its own direction however.
Ho Meng-hua made the superb classic of wuxia of period action film with The Lady Hermit (Zhong kui niang zi, 1971), a film so thrilling that every one of the director's films thereafter has a certain expectation attached, which he alas never afterward lived up to, though he's rarely only run of the mill.
Swift Sword was his last film for Shaw Brothers after twenty years of turning in profitable product. His last is no embarrassment, but it's too bad he couldn't've gone out on a somewhat higher note.
Qiuxia (Lily Li) is the girl who saves the life of the titular character Bai Yiping the Swift Sword (Lung Yun), who fights with a cobra-hilt sword & tosses cobra darts. Now he is beholden to a member of the family he hates, all of whom fight with crescent spears.
He falls in love with Qiuxia, so puts aside his vendetta & plans to set out instead on a treasure quest, a hidden fortune in gold he would like to put to use helping others.
The duplicitous "Cold-blooded Five" are the worst of the evil men of the Leng clan, with a white-haired white-beared Lo Lieh playing the top bad guy who is alas also the father of Qiuxia.
These men insist on a proper marriage with good natured Qiuxia. She is the opposite of the evil men in her family, whose mother was kidnapped into the clan when young & sill awaits her time of vengeance.
The clan soon proves its intent is to kill Swift Sword in spite of the marriage agreement, & get their hands on his treasure map. They manage to cripple hlim permanently, failing for some inexplicable reason to deprive him of the treasure map before tossing him over a cliff to his presumed death.
The story shifts to other characters ten years later, with the character of Swift Sword reduced in consequence.
Xiaomei (Kara Hui Ying-hung) is the swordswoman whose brother General Xiaotong (Wang Yu) was wrongly treated by the government.
This brother/sister team have become wandering do-gooders. If they could obtain the aforementioned treasure, they would use it to help those in need, & so their paths cross with crippled Swift Sword, who manages still occasionally to be a fighter despite crutches or wheelchair.
The bad clan's skilled but villainous daughter Ningzhe Leng (Esther Niu Niu, preposterously passing for a boy for much of the film) provides some swordwoman action, a few conflicted emotions when she's tempted to leave the dark side, but is more filial than given credit for. She will rejoin her bad-guy father before the end, unconcerned that her clan has decided even she must die.
It's a childish story over all, par for the course for martial arts films of the era, moderately entertaining. With two swordswomen, nifty villains, a treasure, all kinds of weapons & open hand fighting, & an unintentionally whimsical duel from wheelchair, Swift Sword is an adequate film of its kind if you're in the mood for predictable wuxia.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl