Reviewed By-Paul Cooke
Director : Allan Lan
Scripted : Chen Zheng Tong & Allan Lan
Starring : Sammo Hung , Pei Pei Cheng , Louis Fan Siu Wong &
Chiao Jen Yu
Away from the Dynasty’s , and way before Blake Carrington got to play the unseen boss of Charlie’s Angels , there were the riders of the plain and nomads of the hills in ancient China. This is a fable from those times , a tale of forbidden love that torments two families for a generation , beginning with treachery and despair that culminates toward woe. A desperate woman horse thief and beggar is pursued by soldiers of the realm , her plight to deliver her baby daughter into the safe hands of her secret lovers own woman. Distraught at discovering his wife has betrayed him Kiu Hung has her hunted down like an animal , to be killed at the door of female star Pei-Pei Cheng (‘ Come Drink With Me ’ , ‘ Crouching Tiger , Hidden Dragon ’ ) . The safe haven is soon set afire by bowmen shooting flaming arrows into the rudimentary straw roofed abode , forcing Pei-Pei Cheng to escape through a window cradling the baby girl but unable to rescue her own baby son.
Twenty years pass and Pei-Pei Chengs character wanders the surrounding desert and hillsides alone with her past and the burden of believing her son was left to die. She has become known by the locals as a ghost of virtue and recognised as the bearer of the White Dragon Sword !. Her ability with the blade is soon witnessed as upon her mount she charges down from the hilltop , and causes pandemonium amongst a band of soldiers who are transporting the thief known as Pak. Her assault is a common one but on this occasion a mutually beneficial one also , as Pak is set free amongst the tussling exchange. Pak soon catches up with his inadvertent benefactor as she lay injured upon the ground , her horse stood stoically as her protector. The super horse has a mind of its own and this proves to me one of several moments to display its intelligence , akin to that of the Lone Rangers sturdy companion Trigger. Pak soon metaphorically gets to play Tonto as the Indian giver saves the distressed damsel , becoming aware that she is dying from consumption. There short time together proves to be a harmonious unity as he proves to be her bearing crutch and she a teacher of her martial arts endearingly referred to by Pak as Senior. All the while unbeknownst to her it is not just the governing bodies seeking her out but also her lover , and father of the daughter given up to her in the form of Luk as played by co star and Director Sammo Hung. The years have not been kind to Sammo as witnessed here as his character of Luk wanders around with a hang dog expression , and an expanse of waist that gives his horse a look or bewilderment once mounted. The wait between story telling and action is somewhat padded out even through the movies standard running time , but each main player does get their time in the spotlight with pleasing enough bursts. Even the horse gets to show its super abilities in an unintentionally amusing scene that shows up some poor special effects , in a crazy situation involving a ride for freedom into a careening tornado amidst a valley that is crumbling under an earthquake !.
When Senior loses her fight against her affliction Pak undertakes to seek out her daughter who has thus far led a normal life hidden away from the past deeds of her estranged family. Highly skilled in the martial artistry of Wuxia her skill with a sword is soon displayed when Pak discovers her. The young woman is Liu Yun Long and she displays her fighting abilities as she attacks Pak for riding in upon her mothers recognisable horse , as well as wielding her bequeathed White Dragon Sword. The acrobatic interaction of Fu is welcome but interrupted by the arrival of Sammo Hung looking not unlike a sack of potatoes , wearing a turban and sat astride a horse almost buckling at the knees. Clearly the term High Ho Sammo 'Aweigh' is not one applicable to this particular scene !. As Luk Sammo does not reveal himself to Liu Yun Long as her father but she soon strikes up a respectful relationship with him in an enjoyable exchange of challenge and tomfoolery.
The calm before the storm is short as the band of soldiers discover their whereabouts and the son of Luk’s one time friend , now twenty years since passed rival Kiu Hung , in the shape of Kiu Chan Yu seeks revenge. What unravels is the true shattering relationship between the two families as Luk goes one on one with Kiu Hung and Lie Yun Long fights to the death with Kiu Chan Yu. Treachery , betrayal and infidelity all entwine to the shattering conclusion but not before the clashes between both old and young. Sammo Hung gets to try and rekindle those fighting skills from younger days as his stiffened joints are seen cartwheeling around a sand swept set , culminating in a fu fist fight atop a stone platform. Whilst the rickety Fathers of Fu bump rice wine bellies Pak and Liu Yun Long take on Kiu Chan Yu and his horde of horse charging men in what is actually one of the Action highlights. Playing out like a three hour filmed epic condensed down into a ninety minute movie adaption the film is confusingly filled with holes and poor editing. The Action is stilted and heavily reliant upon wirework yet forgivingly viewed with a sigh of expectancy it plays out enjoyably daft enough. Ultimately even Sammo can’t carry the film , which much like poor Sammo’s horse doesn’t quite carry him.
Presentation : Widescreen Ratio Aprox 1:70:1
Release : Deltamac
Coding : NTSC Region 3
Sound : Dolby Digital 5.1
Extras : Film Trailer / English Subtitles