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The Trail of the Broken Blade

Hong Kong 1967
produced by
Shaw Brothers
directed by Chang Cheh
starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Chin Ping, Chiao Chuang, Chiao Chiao, Chen Hung-Lieh, Ngai Ping Ngo, Tin Fung, Paang Paang, Fan Mei-Sheng, Lee Ying, Wong Kwong Yue
fighting instructor: Liu Chia-Liang (= Lau Kar Leung)

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Always make sure of DVD-compatibility !!!
Fang (Chiao Chuang) saves Mister Liu (Lee Ying) & his daughter Zhen (Chin Ping) from a gang of bandits & is thus invited by Liu to stay with them & train his daughter in martial arts - which he does with delight since he has fallen for Zhen. But she tells him although she's fond of him she cannot love him because her heart belongs to Li Yue (Jimmy Wang Yu), who is on the run from the law because he has bloodily avenged his father. A man of honour at heart, the scorned lover promises the girl to find her true love for her. What he doesn't know though is that the men he killed to save Mr. Liu & daughter belonged to the Flying Fish Island, & its leader, Tu Qianqian (Tin Fung) is quick to send his son Tu Long (Chen Hung-Lieh) & the Jiao's 4 after Fang to avenge the death of his men).

Meanwhile, in a faraway village, Li Yue spends his days incognito as a simple horseman, & only Xiao Mei (Chiao Chiao), who's secretly in love with him, & deceitful yet benevolent casino-owner Shi (Ngai Ping Ngo) know of his true identity. When one day Fang stops by & tells Li Yue about his search, Li Yue lies about his identity & neither Xiao Mei nor Shi tell the tale, too, since that would mean losing Li Yue. However, soon a deep friendship between Fang & Li Yue develops, which puts Li Yue more & more into a dilemma - on one side he does not want to lie to his friend & help him in his quest, on the other hand, Fang is in love with Zhen too, & if he would find Li Yue it would break his heart - & furthermore Fang would be the much better husband for Zhen.

But then Tu Long & the Jiao's 4 show up, & by trickery, they almost manage to kill Fang - forcing Li Yue to display his amazing martial arts skills, but at the same time giving away his identity. But danger is not over yet, as Tu Long, badly wounded, emands a rematch in a month - & it becomes more than certain this will not be fought by him but by his father Tu Qianqian, an amazing master of martial arts.

Xiao Mei will now do everything to save Li Yue from this ordeal - which has nothing to do with him in the first place -, even if that means to bring aboard his true love Zhen, who she sets out to search, & actually she brings her back to the village - but already too late, because when Li Yue saw her from afar, he fled the village & embarked on a mission to Flying Fish island to once & for all kill Tu Qianqian to save his friend from that threat & provide Zhen with a decent husband.

When Fang & Zhen find out about that, they follow him to Flying Fish Island, however once there they face dangers & traps aplenty before reaching Li Yue - whose fight with Tu Qianqian is already in full swing. In the end, Li Yue manages to defeat his opponent - even if that means giving his own life. With his last breath, he gives Fang & Zhen his blessings ... but Zhen, not willing without him, kills herself ...

 

Incredibly kitsch martial arts film in which Chang Cheh explores his favourite subjects  - honour, loyalty, male bonding - to the hilt, with exclusively larger-than-life characters, filmed mostly in the complete artificiality of the Shaw Brothers studios' sets, that give the film a bit of an unreal, dreamlike atmosphere. In all, it's not a bad movie, however it's definitely not one of Chang Cheh's better ones, as it completely lacks any subtleties, & the characters, too, are completely devoid of any edges, making all of them too good to be true !

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
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a collection of short stories and mini-plays
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Tales to Chill
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the new anthology by
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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