The Imperial Swordsman (1972)
Chuan Yuan is the noble, powerful hero and Shu Pei-pei, one of Shaw’s top swordswoman, is a reluctant bride who comes upon a rebellion plot. They are joined by a large cast of expert fighters and actors all keeping the intrigue and adventure foremost in the film. There’s even a nice surprise ending amidst all the action.
THE IMPERIAL SWORDSMAN opens with a rather funky shot of a miniature castle (this proves to be a detriment to the film throughout: there are numerous miniatures used that only serve to detract from the story being told,), though the sets themselves are often outstanding (including the darkened ruins of several buildings and some mountain caves and tunnels). We meet our hero, Yin (who looks and acts like a Toshiro Mifune wannabe, down to a sword hidden in a staff), camping out in some ruins. He meets an Official and his retainer, who are promptly attacked by bandits. He saves them, of course, and runs into a mysterious masked assassin who he chases off. The Official hires Yin to protect him on his journey into the mountains (his destination is the Devil Cliff hideout of a band of bandits). En route, they meet up with Lady Shi and her retainers (who are being pestered by a pair of ne'er-do-wells- one of whom, Gu Wan, is played by Lu Wei, who wore the horned helmet and flew through the air like a missile in THE BLACK TAVERN), who clearly manipulate Yin into letting them join his caravan. The group arrives, after much tribulation, at the mountain stronghold. Before long, it becomes apparent that Lady Shi isn't the fragile flower she has been pretending to be, after all. Nor is the Official. Will our hero manage to extricate himself from this mess in time, or will the bandits win out in the end? Check it out and see.