The Shadow Whip (1971)Director: Lo Wei
Starring: Cheng Pei-pei, Yueh Hua, Tien Feng, Ku Feng, Wang Hsia, Li Kun, Lo Wei, Li Shou-chi
Tagline: No DEVO jokes here!
Miss Yang (Cheng Pei-pei) and Erh (Li Kun) are travelling into town to pick up supplies. Erh is happy enough to sing while he travels, but it is short lived as some thugs push him out of the way and hit him with the whip.
Once they get to town Erh gets in a fight with the three ruffians at a pub, but luckily he is rescued by Wang (Yueh Hua) and also Yang and her whip. Erh wisely decides to drop it, but Wang has his interest piqued by Miss Yang's style and makes enquiries as to her whereabouts.
Back at their bed & breakfast in the country, Erh makes Yang promise not to tell their master Feng Chang-tien (Tien Feng) about the blue in town. It turns out Feng has been hiding out for fifteen years and hides a mysterious past. The issue is forced when a strange man turns up who doesn't leave footprints in the snow. Erh is scared of him, but Feng tells him not to worry and things take off from there.
A very lively tale that is also rather short, but all the better for it as there is not much of a chance for the story to get boring. It reminded me of a lot of traditional western stories as there is even a hidden treasure involved and it could easily be a stagecoach that has been robbed with Civil War soldiers standing in for the emperor's men.
Who'd be a publican in ancient China? You would eventually run out of room to put the bodies and people would always be poking holes in your windows to peek on their enemies. At least you'd get to keep the bond as guests are almost guaranteed to trash their rooms (still not as bad as a footy trip.)
The fights are really good with the whip taking pride of place. This leads to many comedy deaths as people's own spears are used against them and at one stage one poor bugger's leg is ripped off. There is a bit of blood, but it is bright house paint red so you can't take it too seriously. I thought the fights in the snow were great as was the big fight with two people against hundreds in the grounds of the inn.
There was a bit of a problem with the print during some scenes as it seemed too dark, but this is only for a couple of scenes. I also liked the way they tricked the baddie into revealing himself as it is the oldest trick in the book. Props to Cheng Pei-pei for still looking good while wearing a stupid hat for the whole movie.
I would recommend this film if you would like to see something different than the usual martial arts film and don't have time to watch a longer movie.