The Sword & the Lute (Huo shao hong lian si zhi qin jian en chou, 1967) is the third film in a trilogy preceded by The Temple of the Red Lotus (Huo shao hong lian si zhi jiang hu qi xia, 1965) & The Twin Swords (Huo shao hong lian si zhi yuan yang jian xia, 1965), but each film is completely stand-alone.
Swordswoman Jin Lian Zhu (Ching Ping) & her swordsman fiance Kuei Wu (Jimmy Wang Yu) are waylaid along the road by bandits, for the sake of an action scene before the credits are completed.
The preliminary action scene also introduces the bizarre weapon called The Phoenix Lute, which fires dozens of poisonous pins in rapid successions out one end of the musical instrument.
One of the bandits was greatly interested in the lute & soon steals it. What was feared would happen has happened, the ultimate weapon has fallen into evil hands!
The rest of the film is our hero & heroine trying to get the deadly lute back so they can finish their initial mission to have it destroyed by the only means possible, by use of The Invincible Sword.
A sub-plot features Lo Lieh as a sneaky wandering knight, with a violent mission of revenge.
The tale progresses prettily with lots of color & action but it is too juvenile to be of any great appeal.
The greatest interest it generated in the prelude when we see Ivy Ling Po singing & playing the lute so beautifully; she was an amazing talent.
Ivy appears in each of the three films of this series in cameos as The Lady in Red or The Scarlet Maid. When she's on the screen the film comes alive, but she's just a guest star & we see way too little of her.
The film is also interesting for the sake of Fung Bo-bo, a child star never really allowed to grow up in the films, playing a girl archer on the road.
Of course, Bo-bo's presence does heighten the sense of it being a kiddy flick. Bo-bo's protector in her tween adventuring is played by fat comic actor Pang Pang, who played Piggy in Shaw Brothers' "Monkey Goes West" films, also for kids.
For swordswoman action there's not only Ching Ping & the cameo for Ivy Ling Po, but also Lily Li as the bad-girl swordswoman. The duel between the good & bad swordswomen gets a high score for innocent sexiness.
In general, however, the film is put together as though from an a la carte menu of standard set pieces & scenes. All bad guys die; most good guys live; then the Scarlet Maid gives a rather hypocritical "moral" lesson about how too much killing is bad, before she vanishes into the night.
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