Film: Vengeance is a Golden Blade (1969)
Director: Meng Hua Ho
Writer/s: Meng Hua Ho, Yun Chih Tu
Cinematographer: Kuo-Hsiang Ling
Producer: Run Run Shaw
One of those rare Wuxia films from the Shaw Brothers that revolves around a father-daughter relationship, Vengeance is a Golden Blade shows a lot of promise but falls flat with all its dramatics and jerky sword fighting.
Its a story about a girl wanting to avenge her disgraced father from the Vicious Long Brothers, a bunch of evil doers who are also his father’s business rival. Think about that for a second. If you have an agency hired to protect things and people, why would you name your company Vicious Long Brothers? Well that point is moot, but it sure comes into play in regards on how the story was written.
It was written poorly.
It doesn’t have a logical narrative and the climax is rushed and sloppily staged. The film anchors itself with its never ending plot twists that don’t go anywhere, making it look and feel like a soap opera on mid-morning TV with some martial arts and swords thrown in.
Indeed this is a Wuxia film and we’re here to see some swordplay, but alas it fails on that end as well. There are a couple of good fight sequences but it has been mired by the slow pace of the story. “When are we going to get to the juicy bits?” I kept asking myself, but once there my patience has already been sucked dry by the story line. Also, the build-up of the Long Hung Sword versus the Golden Blade didn’t make a significant impact as promised throughout the film, taking a backseat to the dramatic theatrics of the story.
There is one thing going for the film and its the use of a female heroine. Pao-Shu Kao, who later was on Taiwanese productions such as Blood of the Dragon and Bandits, Prostitutes and Silver, is one of the few women in martial arts movies during its golden age, and its a refreshing change of pace with its testosterone packed counterparts. She most definitely had an impact on strong female roles in this genre (and probably others as well).
All in all, this is not Shaw Brothers best release. I’ll give it an A for its effort to keep the genre fresh with a more dramatic pace with its father-daughter issues, but to speak bluntly, I am not here to watch relationship issues. I wanted to see swordplay like other top notch Shaw Brothers releases, instead I saw a soap that is not sure of itself.
by Tomi Uysingco