Clan of Amazons (Review)

Clan of Amazons

aka Xiu hua da dao

Lau Wing as Lu Xiaofeng
Ling Yun as Jin Juiling
Yueh Hua as Hua Manlou
Ching Li as Xue Bing
Shih Szu as Jiang Qingxia, 3rd Sister
Cheung Ying as Serpent

This Shaw Brother’s epic features no Amazons, instead you have red shoed women, police inspectors, blind kung fu, sword fu, needle fu, embroidery fu, burning boat fu, and prostitutes getting paid to look out a window.

In the woods a lone figure embroiders a rose upon a red scarf. The figure is blocking the path, and a rich man with servants is caravaning that way. He politely asks the figure to get out of the way, and he and his whole entourage are blinded by the figure by the embroidery needles. Immediately after, the House of Pingnan is being robbed, the treasury is empty save for the lone figure. Master Jiang and his men fight, but the men are blinded instantly, and Master Jiang soon follows to the land where the One Eyed man is king as his eyes get taken out as well.

Across China, Lu Xiaofeng and Hue Manlou are playing chess. Hu is blind, but still manages to bead Lu Xiaofeng. They then eat with some other’s at Lu’s place and discuss the Embroidery Bandit as the figure from the beginning has become known. Famous Police Inspector Jin Jiulang arrives to ask Lu for help solving the Embroidery Bandit case. The only clue is a red scarf with a black embroidered rose on it left at he scene of the robbery. Lu takes it to someone he knows will be able to tell if a man or woman made the embroidery.

The Flashing Needle of Xuebing! Xuebing in Lu’s girl, and she is a deadly throwing needle artist who has perfected the move. After some play with Lu, they go see Xuebing’s mother so she can ID the embroidery. Mrs. Xue tells them that it was made on a special cloth only available in one store, and it was definitely made by a woman. Lu Xiaofeng and Xuebing go out to eat when some random men stroll into the eatery and demand to know who Lu Xiaofeng is. They attack, and are beaten, but they attacked only to find out if Lu was who he said he was. They deliver a letter and scatter. The letter is blank, but a secret code is discovered by a clumsy waiter that reads “Sikong Zhaixing will steal the scarf before dawn.” Sikong Zhaixing is a master thief and martial artsman. Xuebing tells Lu that the red cloth the Embroidery Bandit left is used to make red shoes used by members of a secret order, all of who are women. Thank goodness she finally brought up that important plot point. Any time now she will tell us what happened to Jimmy Hoffa.

Back at Lu’s hotel room, a waiter steals the red scarf, and he was the clumsy waiter from earlier. Sikong Zhaixing is outside and informs Lu of this, and Lu gives chase with Xuebing not far behind. Lu let’s Xuebing know the scarf was a decoy and the real one is in his pocket. They tail him to a nunnery, which has only one nun, named Qingxia, who starts fighting Lu and Xuebing until she finds out why they are there. She is Master Jiang’s sister in addition to her nunly duties, and takes care of the now blind Master Jiang, who talks with Lu briefly.

Lu and Xuebing return to their room where Sikong Zhaixing is waiting with dinner, to repay them for stealing the scarf earlier, as he took the one from Lu’s pocket and replaced THAT one with a decoy also. The waiter who stole the scarf is Sikong Zhaixing’s apprentice, Sikong Zhaihua. Master Thief Sikong Zhaixing fakes a battle with Sikong Zhaihua to make his exit.

Lu goes to the store that sold the cloth, and finds out a nun bought some earlier in the month. He goes back to find Qingxia, but the nunnery is abandoned, save for some attackers, all donning red shoes. Lu and Xuebing rip off the shirts of the assailants to determine their sex, and they are all men instead of the women they should be, and then all the attackers get thrashed. Master Jiang is there, but he just awoke from being unconscious, and knows not where his sister ran off to.

After eating some cat for dinner (poor kitty…) at a local restaurant, Lu tries to meet a Mr. Serpent, and gets an audience. Mr. Serpent agrees to look for the Red Embroidered Shoe Society or whatever their clan is. Serpent tells them the clan was formed by seven women to promote justice. The leader of the Red Shoes tells Lu through a message passed through Serpent’s agents that she wants to meet Lu at a restaurant.

At a resteraunt Xuebing gets a hunchback to look for women in red shoes by paying her a good sum of money, the hunchback lady gives her some chestnuts as thanks. A mysterious lady tells them the chestnuts are poison. Since it is late and no one has arrived, they pretend to take the nuts and fall over in fake death. The hunchback lady returns with goons that drop down from the ceiling. Why no one noticed the goons in the ceiling I will not know. One would think you’d notice 10-12 sweaty men hanging out in the rafters of the building you were in, but maybe goons in the ceiling is some common in ancient China that no one pays any attention. These ceiling goons get thrashed by Lu and the hunchback killed, but Xuebing disappears in the chaos. At the very moment combat has ended and Lu realizes Xuebing has vanished, Jin sends word that The Serpent has been killed. At the dead man’s lair, it is said he was killed because he found out where Xuebing was being held. Which is odd since Xuebing was taken so recently her shadow was still in the battlefield. The Serpent must get his gossip from Speedy Gonzalez. OR The Serpent has a Delorean hidden in his basement, he traveled to the future to find out where Xuebing was, then traveled back in time to tell Lu, but was killed by another time traveler who was working for the enemy. Said enemy left the information of Xuebing’s whereabouts in a note still in the Serpent’s hand! Seriously, the information is still there, Now everyone knows where Xuebing is, and they go, but of course it’s not the real place. Red Shoes and embroidery needles litter the place, and a trap poisons Inspector Jin. LU sends all the extra police away to lure the murderer out of hiding, he and another cop wait for the enemy to show up.

They don’t wait long, soon they see who was staying there…Top Martial Artist The Black Devil! He’s here to sing his number one hit, Baby Catch My Love Train. Just kidding, of course he’s here to FIGHT! Being a top martial artist means you last about 15 seconds as he is killed pretty easily. Since he’s dead, he can’t talk, but a letter he grabbed will answer everything. Well, it would if it weren’t blank. Why not try to read the secret message like before in the movie? Good question, as Lu abandons it immediately. In fact, he goes home.

At home, Lu sends word to Hue he needs help on this case. Then Lu receives a letter telling him to visit a prostitute called Ouyang Qing. As this was before people were unaware of the dangers of SPAM email, Lu immediately does what the letter tells him to. Ouyang Qing is apparently the most beautiful prostitute in the universe. Men leave thousands of gold coins just to see her gaze from a window. Hey, whatever gets you off, buddy. “That’s truly the most famous prostitute ever” one such man states. Lu is up for more than window shopping, and demands to see her red shoes, ending up ripping off her yellow shoes to see them, after betting on her footwear. Ouyang then drugs him (which he saw coming and faked the drugging, as he seems to be quite good at) He starts to follow Ouyang as she leaves, but the mysterious woman from the hunchback chestnut episode returns to bump into him, and he loses sight of Ouyang, but d3ecides to follow this woman instead. As luck would have it, she puts on red shoes! Then heads right to Red Shoes headquarters. He observes some of the members show off trophies they’ve collected for justice, including gold and noses of bandits. First Sister arrives, who was the mysterious lady, and Lu recognizes her as Madam Gongsun. The movie forgot to tell the viewers who she was so it’s about as much a shock as telling someone the sky is blue.

Ouyang shows up as she is also a member, as is Jiang Qingxia. Madam Gonsun knows Lu is there and invites him out. She tells him they are not connected with the Embroidery Bandit, but he still wants to arrest them. So they have a three part challenge– Poetry, Fighting, and Speed. Lu manages to tie poetry with Ouyang, and must get out of a circle of Red Shoes with swords in a certain amount of stances, which he pulls off by ripping off parts of their skirts. I’m noticing a lot of repeating elements in this film. Top Martial Artists being defeated immediately, blind people, Lu ripping off people’s clothes in fights… For speed Lu sees through Gongsun’s trick and captures her, winning the challenge. Gongsun reveals to him in private that there is a spy in their group, and she doesn’t know who. Lu then finally realizes they aren’t responsible, and he takes her to Inspector Jin pretending she is his captive.

After he drops her off he ups and leaves. Have you figured out by now Jin is the Embroidery Bandit? Well, he is, and was blaming the Red Shoes to get off scott free. Jin also looks like an Asian Russel Crowe. He starts monologuing revealing everything, as this is before James Bond movies have taught supervillains to be quiet. Gongsun escapes, and Lu is waiting outside, revealing why he suspected Jin. Jin calls down more goons from the rafters (I guess they ARE common to rafters in ancient China) and the Battle Royale is on! Jin is captured easily, what kind of lame Battle Royale is this? What? More movie to go? Okay. Master Jiang and some of the Red Shoes arrive right then, and they force Jin to reveal where the treasure is stored. They return to the nunnery, but it’s a trap! Master Jiang is in it with Jin, as his sister and Jin are an item. I could think of ways I’d like to steal money that don’t involve blinding myself, but whatever. The villains start to get the best of our heroes by trapping them in a dark barn so the odds are even. Even until Hue shows up, as he is blind as well. Sikong also arrives, Master Jiang is killed, but Jin says he will leave Xuebing to die where she is held unless only Lu goes with him to get her. She’s onboard a boat, but Jin traps Lu in with her, and Qingxia and Jin plan to sail off with the treasure. Jin tells them he will leave them on the boat to die. Qingxia is starting to get second thoughts.

Xuebing and Lu set fire to the boat so the cage will be opened, then battle for their very lives. Qingxia is killed, but Jin is starting to get the best of Lu, he cuts him then de-swords him. They both fall overboard and are still fighting on the burning wreckage outside the ship. The fog around them starts to clear, revealing every other good guy, as they were following in another boat and just caught up. Then Jin is killed. Everyone lives happily ever after. The End.

Ignoring some glaring plot misses that might be explained by bad translations and/or some American cut version, this isn’t that bad of a kung fu flick, fitting for the ’70s era. And women were actually doing things besides being beat up and screaming for help and fainting, which is far too common in many Kung Fu films of the era. The cons were the plot jumping, Lu’s lack of concerned for the kidnapped Xuebing, and the goons in the rafters being ignored until they drop down to be killed. I liked the random characters who would appear, be some important great person, and either get killed immediately or disappear for 99% of the movie. Very Boba Fettish.

Rated 7/10 (Poor Kitty, Hunchy, Master Jiang vs. Embroidery Bandit, The Flashing Needle of Xuebing!, snake, henchman of Jin)

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