15 Feb Romance Shaw Brothers style…
Love abounds in Shaw Brothers movies. Below are a few favorites featuring sword-crossed fighters, and modern-day innocents who may or may not find their heart’s desire.
Have Sword Will Travel (1969) by Chang Cheh. Yun Pao Pao’s (Li Ching) devotion to fiancé Siang (Ti Lung) only goes so far when her betrothed is overly paranoid and jealous of the Robin Hoodesque Yi Lo (David Chiang.) This not-so-torrid triangle is a delightful take on teenage love in the martial world. Watching the director create this world is most welcome as his trio of young actors swoon, brood and feign disinterest with aplomb.
Watch Have Sword Will Travel with Prime Video: http://amzn.to/2srM9u0
Swordsman and Enchantress (1978) by Chu Yuan. Wrongly accused thief Xiao Shiyi Lang (Ti Lung) has to clear his name over the theft of the coveted Deer Carver sword and Mrs. Lian, a nobleman’s wife. Xiao attracts all kinds of women from the “Man Junkie” (Lily Li Li) to “Little Lord”(Candy Wren), and yet, this lone wolf falls in love with Mrs. Lian (Ching Li), a gentle lady who is much more than what her outward appearance suggests. If you’ve watched Chu Yuan’s wuxia (especially his adaptations of Gu Long’s novels), romance often drives the story. Sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle, love brings honor or ruin to the lead characters. Passion reveals Xiao’s humility and compassion as Mrs. Lian reciprocates his generosity and growing attraction. As Mrs. Lian and Xiao’s bond blossoms, you want them to find happiness.
Watch Swordsman and Enchantress with Prime Video: http://amzn.to/2sv6ajh
Two Champions of Shaolin (1980) by Chang Cheh. Romance makes a surprising come back in the midst of Chang’s work with the Venoms mob. Here, an injured Shaolin fighter Tong QianJin (Lo Mang) falls in love with Jin Bier (Yueng Jing-Jing) the equally rebellious little sister of Jin Tailai (Sun Chien). Naturally, Tong and Lady Jin’s courtship is martial arts inclined and remains among the most playful sequences Chang Cheh would film going forward. It’s a sweet arc in a movie that becomes increasingly dark as the Qing Empire baddies prepare to strike.
Watch Two Champions of Shaolin with Prime Video: http://amzn.to/2GeBJjt
Black Magic (1975) by Ho Meng-Hua. Director Ho Meng-Hua delivered a wildly entertaining filmography while at Shaw Brothers. Black Magic is the studio’s first foray into gross out horror and an ode to “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Hiring a black magician to help snare the person of your dreams is not a good idea. Xu Nuo and Wang Chu Ying (Ti Lung and Lily Li Li) are the loving newlyweds who become targets of the lustful Mrs. Luo Yin (Tanny), Liang Chia Chieh (Lo Lieh) and the wicked warlock (Ku Feng) pulling everyone strings. Bonus: real-life couple Tanny and Yueh Hua share a blissful moment before things get goopy, loopy and ugly.
Watch Black Magic with Prime Video: http://amzn.to/2HgpF2b
The Magic Blade (1976) by Chu Yuan. While 1977’s The Jade Tiger and The Sentimental Swordsman also feature a lovelorn and tragic Ti Lung swordsman, it is the mysterious Fu Hung Hsueh whose regret over leaving love behind, reveals one of the most unique unabashedly romantic figures in the classic Shaw Brothers style. After surviving multiple assassination attempts, Fu Hung Hsueh happens upon a sickly prostitute whose sad reality quietly reveals his true nature. His loving gestures embody the inner strength and suffering of our hero. This scene is a quiet moment that speaks volumes. That this happens so late into this excellent movie makes it a welcome surprise.
Watch The Magic Blade with Prime Video: http://amzn.to/2EtCCYG
Shaolin Mantis (1978) by Lau Kar-Leung. While Executioners from Shaolin (1977) boasts the perfect LK-L love moment (the bedroom scene); it is the growing adoration between Wai Fung (David Chiang) and Chi-Chi (Cecilia Wong) that winks at traditional tropes while pulling your heartstrings because you know what they do not. This superb courtship showcases a softer side of the legendary director, making Wai’s journey all the more bittersweet.
Watch Shaolin Mantis with Prime Video: http://amzn.to/2GevmfQ
As it can be in the real world, love inspires, destroys, -and sometimes- even conquers all in the martial realms too.
When not honing her pen fu for ShawBrothersUniverse.com or studying the precepts of film and media, Kim August can be found writing, drawing and thinking about Shaw Brothers movies at her blog. Kim’s short story based on Chang Cheh’s Vengeance! was recently published in NANG Magazine #3.