(Xiao Ao Jiang Hu Zhi Dong Fang Bu Bai)
The plot with its multiple running characters and individual subplots remains fairly incomprehensible even more so in subtitling. Like A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), Ching Siu-Tung dazzles in the amazing blend of classical martial swordplay combined with Oriental mysticism (Wu Xia Pan cinema). It is the swordplay one has come for and as such Swordsman II moves like a rocket train and Ching Siu-Tungs visions are genuinely unworldly. Most of the sword battles are conducted in mid-air with people crossing strokes as they fly by one another at one point, a battle becomes an amazing melee with all the contestants hopping up and down like a mad trampoline party. People travel by bouncing off cliffsides, walls, even running along on the tips of long-grass. Armies of attacking swordsmen fly on thrown nunchukas; magicians whip up magical storms and whirlwinds that longitudinally bifurcate horses. One magician tears out an entire bowl of soil and ends up hanging onto it in mid-air before it is blasted apart and he has to duck the flying rocks like the asteroid storm out of The Empire Strikes Back (1980); the villain(ess) has a stock of sewing needles that prove handy weapons that she throws through the air to penetrate peoples veins or where trailing threads can act as entangling traps or to slice off ankles. Another character wields a bullwhip, even managing to uproot entire tress and whirl them around her head.
It is good to see the women getting into the action just as much as the men, although the comic scenes of Michelle Reiss assistant and her attempts to attract Ling are played broadly and become strained. The film achieves something unique, its blend of fantastic action a far cry from anything that even enters the head of most Western directors. There is even a scene where the warrior hero sings soulful a dirge about drinking his wine and not being concerned for tomorrow.
Ching-Siu Tungs other genre films are:- Duel to the Death (1983), The Witch from Nepal/The Nepal Affair (1985), A Chinese Ghost Story (1987), A Chinese Ghost Story II (1990), A Terracotta Warrior (1990), A Chinese Ghost Story III (1991), New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), The Heroic Trio (1993), The Heroic Trio II: Executioners (1993), The Mad Monk (1993), Swordsman III: The East is Red (1993), The Scripture With No Words (1996) and The Sorcerer and the White Snake (2011). Siu-Tung is also known as an action choreographer par excellence and has coordinated sequences on films like Shaolin Soccer (2001), Invincible (2001), Hero (2003), House of Flying Daggers (2004) and In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale (2007).
Film available online in two parts (Part 1 here):-
Film available online in two parts (Part 2 here):-