Vengeance is a Golden Blade

Director: Ho Meng-hua

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl

Vengeance is a Golden Blade A crooked armed escort company robbed its own client in transit, afterward losing all its business thanks to the establishment of an honest armed escort. So the bad one lay in wait to assassinate the honest rival Li Zhishan (Tang Ching).

To the annoyance of the sinister Long Brothers (Lee Pang-fei & Chao Hsiung), Li Zhishan possesses the Golden Dragon Blade that cuts through all other swords. This blade saved him from assassins, but Li Zhishan never realized his wife Liu Yuexiang was having an affair with her husband's foe Long Zhentiang.

Vengeance is a Golden BladeLiu Yuexiang is played by Kao Pao-shu, a film director in her own right, whose films include the Angela Mao vehicle Battle of Shaolin (Bo ming, 1977). Kao Pao-shu makes for a relentlessly evil villainess. She is in fact the mastermind conspiring against her own household.

She will deprive her husband of the Golden Sword, so that the Long family can bring him down. A bold, faithful, chubby servant named Li Sheng (Paang Paang) rushes to the aid of Li Zhishan & his little daughter, or both would've been killed.

The flee by cart, faking an accident off a cliff so that they won't be pursued. Daughter, father, & servant end up sheltering with the old herbalist & kung fu master Liu Ansheng (Ku Wen-chung) until Zhishan can recover from his injuries, though he'll walk forever after with a limp.

Qin Song (Yueh Hua), the grandson of the old kung fu master, grows up with Zhishan's daughter Xiaoyan (Chin Ping). She's trained by her father & adoptive grandfather, together with Qin Song, & of course they grow up to be intensely in love.

Vengeance is a Golden Blade During the eighteen years that followed, Zhishan worked on the creation of the Hanglong Blade that will counter the Golden Blade now in the hand of masked marauders led by the Long brothers.

The film's occasional lapses in logic have to be overlooked. We never do see the harm the Golden Blade does in the hands of the outlaws, & the Longs indeed seem more outcast than empowered, so the Golden Sword wouldn't see to be all that powerful. But the story demands we think so anyway, so perhaps the masked bandits used it as a symbol & were afraid to test it otherwise.

It's unfortunate that we wuxia fans just have to learn to make up that sort of explanation as we go along, for the rapid production schedules meant stories were frequently slipshod.

Xiaoyan has never seen the world beyond Liu Ansheng's herb mountain. As a teenager this young woman can't be held back from her curiosity so is finally permitted to go to town with her rural family. There she is innocently swept away in a festival crowd & gets lost in the city.

Vengeance is a Golden BladeShe meets a woman who runs a brothel, but in her naivete she thinks the brothel is just a really nice big house of the rich owner, Madam Liu Yuexiang. At first neither of them knows they are mother & daughter.

The brothel has come to the verge of being shut down until Madam Liu promises the magistrate a "fresh young virgin" if he will overlook her crimes. He agrees & the girl she found was Xiaoyan. The might well have been drugged & raped that very day but that her rural family finds her & takes her away.

Liu Yuexian's belated discovery that this was her long lost daughter scarsely changes her plan. She tracked down Zhishan her former husband & her daughter & becomes a temptation to her naive daughter. The more Zhishan commands her to have nothing to do with the evil woman, the more Xiaoyan rebels, angry for having been lied to for years that her mother was dead.

She refuses to see what a villain the woman is, which is foolish but no more so than her father['s trust when they'd been husband & wife. The older woman has promised the young woman great things -- clothes, jewelry, pleasures -- if she'll live with her in town.

At first the girl doesn't even understand the many "aunty's" of the big home are prostitutes, & it takes her forever to realize her virginity is about to be sold. When the privilege of deflowering her is purchased by a government official, she turns out not to be all that endangered, because she has great fighting skills. That is, until her mother drugs her.

Vengeance is a Golden Blade Saved by Qin Song, Xiaoyan now realizes her father was right, that "the world is is full of treachery." Now she desires to commit herself to vengeance for her crippled father.

The sword her father tempered for eighteen years & which "cleaves metal like butter" is the only match for the Golden Blade taken from her father & now possessed by her mother's bandit lover.

But her father does not believe she has the skill to take on this mission, & hides the Hanglong Blade in a well, counseling Xiaoyan to continue her martial studies.

As we've learned, she's a headstrong girl. And even if she were inclined to settle back into their former rural life doing nothing, the bandit clan now knows her father's alive. They set fire to the forest & fields around their rural home, destroying the herbs they'd lived by.

The swordfights in the forest fire are accidentally whimsical due to reliance on primitive FX. They all escape with their lives but the Hanglong Blade remained in its hiding place.

Vengeance is a Golden BladeXiaoyan begins her campaign of vengeance without the Hanglong or Silver Blade.

When her dad, foster grampa, & their chubby servant who has been like an uncle are taken captive to control her, she's not that easily controlled. She & Qin Song go into hightened action.

The story had been holding back the swordplay action in favor of a better told story than usually provided in these "old school" wuxia action films. But now it's time for the swordplay to rise to the front as the ultimate revenge raid begins.

One of the Long brothers is battled while up to their necks in water, then leaping among trees. Not done with new plot elements, however, before the deathblow can be given the villain, Xiaoyan's mother reappears to reveal that this bad fellow is her true father. "You can kill anyone, but not him!" It's an effective Monkey in the works.

If there's any weakness to the tale it's the ordinariness of the final duel when the Golden Blade is finally brought forth to battle the Huanglong Blade. The ending is perfunctory & the worn-out idea of the super-powered swords just never pays off at any time. But if the action is comparatively tepid in Vengeance is a Golden Blade the story is fairly decent.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl

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