A classic fantasy movie from Hong Kong
starring Leslie Cheung
and Brigitte Lin
The following summary contains spoilers.
That's a lethal hair-do!
On a snow-capped mountain one man waits for a flower to bloom.
This is no ordinary flower however, it only blooms once every two decades
and is reputed to revive the person who takes it.
This is told by the Emperor's men, who are on a mission to retrieve the
flower for their dying leader. The man on the mountain-top is having none
of this and kills them all. One of the men's last words are
"Who is more important than the Emperor" to which the mysterious man
answers "A woman."
We then find out that the mysterious man's name is Cho-Yo-Hang as he
remembers his childhood as part of the 8 Clans and being trained
hard by his master.
As a child he knew that his master wanted him to lead the clan one day,
but he did not aspire to that. He tries to follow the teachings of his
master and be chivalrous, but this just leads to him being chased by
wolves in the middle of the night while carrying a baby goat. Luckily for
him, he is saved at the last moment by the Wolf Girl playing her flute.
Asleep on the ground afterwards, he is found by a low-ranking soldier
and they share a drink while the soldier offers his views on life.
Cho Yo-Hang recounts that later the soldier goes on to become a General.
Back at the Clan with his brothers and sisters, it seems Cho is always
getting into trouble. Either for eating in calligraphy class or
beating people up. While he is being questioned by his elders after
once such incident, we see that some years have passed and he has grown up.
While taking his punishment (facing the Buddha in the temple for 3 days without food)
the people who testified against him try to make it up to him, and also one of
his 'sisters' give him her father's Jade for safekeeping.
Out in the countryside a group of poor villagers steal military supplies for
something to eat. Their hunger soon evaporates when they are attacked without mercy
by the soldiers they stole it from. Into the middle of this carnage, comes a
mysterious woman dressed in white who then uses her whip to cut up the soldiers.
Two villagers (a husband and wife) manage to escape, but the woman is in labour
and cannot go far. For some reason, Cho Yo-Hang happens to be up a tree near them
and hears her cries. He goes to help her and is surprised when the woman in
white also appears to help.
Intrigued by the woman, he follows her to a ruined city and watches. She catches him
however and says she should blind him for seeing her face, she doesn't do this though
and is summoned back to the palace.
It turns out that the woman is actually the chief bodyguard of a Clan that seems to
have two leaders, a brother and sister who are 'very close'. They give her orders
to kill the leaders of the 8 Clans, which includes Cho's uncle, his master
and Cho himself.
Bank at his clan, Cho has been chosen to lead an attack party against the clan
that the woman in white belongs to. He doesn't agree, but is forced to go along with it.
During the night he is camped out with his fellow clan members, when suddenly the
enemy clan attacks and the woman in white is with them. She tries to kill him,
but stops and is injured by other member of Cho's clan.
Cho takes her to the same ruined city where they were before and removes
the needle that struck her while sucking out the poisoned blood. This obviously does
something for her as they have sex a lot.
Afterwards, Cho discovers that she doesn't know her first name so he
gives her one. Her new name is Lei Ni-Chang.
Back at each of their respective clans, they want to know what happened to them
and they blame each other for them leaving.
Lei Ni-Chang says she has one last thing to do and tells Cho to wait for her,
she has to go see her masters about something...
As it reminded me of one of my favourite Hong Kong fantasy movies, The Storm Riders,
I really liked this film and as it was made years before it was good to see where
the inspiration for it came from.
It also reminded me of Swordsman II as it was very violent in places, but again
it was made up for by the characters, locations and action sequences.
Rating : 8/10