Saturday, July 23, 2016

THE LADY HERMIT (1971) #59


The elder Shaw Brother, Runme Shaw produces another hit with THE LADY HERMIT (1971) released January 22nd, directed by Ho Meng Hua, written by Yip Yat-Fong (The Jade Raksha and Heads For Sale), with action directed by Leung Siu-Chung. An action filled revenge tale introducing a brand new female action star: Shih Szu!. Let's get busy!

Cui Ping has traveled all the way to Dugan Town with a letter of recommendation for Chief Wang Cheng En of Da An Security Service from her father. Cui Ping is determined to learn martial arts at the foot of a real martial arts master, in particular, the one known as "The Lady Hermit". She heard rumors of The Lady Hermit being sighted in and around Baijiang Town near a Chung Kuei Temple and is determined to go there to ask The Lady Hermit to be her master. Cui Ping has already learned "all the basics" and literally cracks a mean whip. She is confident The Lady Hermit will accept her as a student.

What Cui Ping does not know is that Chung Kuei Temple is a trap for The Lady Hermit set up by her nemesis, Black Demon. When Black Demon and The Lady Hermit last fought three years ago she was severely injured during the battle and has been hiding out recovering from her wounds and developing a counter for the Black Demon's deadly technique "shadow-less claw". If Cui Ping is not careful, instead of just becoming the disciple of The Lady Hermit she may also become the cause of her death! Game on!

Yes, that is SAMMO HUNG third person from the left
the good: Introducing Shih Szu in her first movie as Cui Ping. Cheng Pei-Pei as Leng Yushuang / The Lady Hermit. Lo Lieh as Chang Chun. Fang Mien as Chief Wang Cheng En.
the bad: Wang Hsieh as Black Demon.

HONORABLE MENTION: Black Demon disciples -- Sammo Hung, Chiu Hung, Chuen Yuen, Tong Tin-Hei, Lee Siu-Chung, Law Hon, Woo Ka-Kei, Siu Wa, Cliff Lok, Yeung Chak-Lam, Suen Lam, Ng Ming-Choi, Bruce Leung Siu-Lung, and Bruce Tong Yim-Chaam.

FIGHT TIME: THE LADY HERMIT (1971) has Leung Siu-Chung (Lady of Steel) as its action director and just as he did in his last work, his choreography is still crisp and easy to follow while he ups the ante with more fights: I counted ten (10) fight scenes including the finale while Lady of Steel had eight (8) and a creative under-cranking that spiced up the fight in spots. I would love to see more of this style because it adds some suspense to the fight. Action-packed and creative fight scenes, need I say more?

THE LADY HERMIT (1971) features the return of Cheng Pei-Pei and Lo Lieh together in a love triangle but unlike GOLDEN SWALLOW, this movie's third wheel is a woman, the newcomer Shih Szu. There is a saying: "Hindsight is 20/20". and looking at the future of Cheng Pei-Pei this movie could have been her swan song and would have been perfectly fitting as such. The truth is, she did make two more movies for Shaw Brothers one more wuxia and one comedy (released in 1972) before leaving for the rival studio Golden Harvest. The drama of the love triangle added texture and interest to THE LADY HERMIT (1971) and the action was top notch making my recommendation for this movie a must-see and collectible for all audiences. Cheng Pei-Pei's star presence is undeniable but this is definitely Shih Szu's movie and they don't debut better than this! See you next time!

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