1981 Directed by Cheung San-Yee
Written by Shing-Ming Huang
This film rules!
It is a Taiwanese take on Snow White, which needed giant monsters, guys turned into bears, demon worship, and crystal swords. Take that, Disney! The film is filled with fantastic elements, just when you think the film has exhausted its supply of weird wonderness, it shows that Thrilling Sword has barely scratched the surface. Parts of the film remind me of He-Man, to the point where I suddenly became interested in He-Man again after years of not being interested and now know all sorts of new stuff about He-Man.
Thrilling Sword is one of many awesome fantasy films that came out of the Taiwanese film industry. At the time, they were competing with the Shaw Brothers and their elaborate and expensive productions. No Taiwanese company could compete in making their films look just as good, but that didn’t stop them from trying or from going over the top with the fantasy aspects. And that makes the films that came out of Taiwan from the 1970s and 80s some of the weirdest and most fun films. It is a shame that so many of the films are hard to find or even lost. Many of the surviving films are only found on fullscreen VHS tapes that are running on thirty years old (luckily, most have been archived digitally, so even if the film never is released again it won’t disappear.) This particular rip is taken from a TV broadcast, which is supposed to be more widescreen than the fullscreen VHS releases of Thrilling Sword, but then I saw a VCD case while looking up cast info on the film, so there is at least VCD copies around, which means there might be a DVD somewhere, but who knows how good that copy is. But this is one film I would put extra time into hunting down an upgrade for.
Thrilling Sword has also been released under the titles Heaven Sword and Thrilling Bloody Sword. So now you know. Director Cheung San Yee also directed a few classics such as Lady Constables and Snaky Knight Fights Against Mantis. He also wrote Island Warriors and came up with the story for Challenge of the Lady Ninja.
Yaur-gi (Fong Fong-Fong) – It’s Snow White! The daughter of King Gau-shien who is sent down the river when she is born as a giant lump of flesh, returning 18 years later after being raised by seven dwarf generals. See more of Fong Fong-Fong in Island Warriors.
Prince Yur-juhn (Lau Seung-Him) – Yur-Juhn is a prince of the Yur Chin Kingdom/Yur Min Nation. The name changes as the film goes on, so don’t blame me. Maybe his country should choose a name and stick with it! Prince Yur-juhn falls in love with Yaur-gi and does lots of heroic stuff for the king before he is turned into a bear and has to go get crystal armor. Just your average Thursday night. Lau Seung-Him was Monkey in Monkey War and New Pilgrims to the West.
Gi-err (Elsa Yeung Wai-San) – Gi-err is from Wu Shien Kingdom is said to be a powerful exorcist. The King has her go and kill lots of demons. She also worships demons and is plotting to overthrow the king thanks to all the demons she is letting loose in the country. The King trusts her completely. Elsa Yeung has been seen on TarsTarkas.NET in Island Warriors and Challenge of the Lady Ninja.
Shiah-ker (Chang Yi) – Gi-err’s partner who also has magic powers and also worships a demon master, and he’s totally evil and even looks horribly evil and his name even sounds horribly evil. The King trusts him completely. I think the King would trust Hitler if he knew how to pull a rabbit out of his hat.
The Little Fairy of the Forest (Ha Ling-Ling) – She used to be a rabbit that Yaur-gi was nice to and then turned into a fairy to be a friend and ally. All fairy tales need fairies, which is a rule or something. I think you can go to jail. So be sure to follow that rule, okay?
Magic Master (???) – Magic Master was trapped in a box by Gi-err and Shaih-ker long ago, probably because he has a butt on his head. A butt on his head. And a nose ring. AND A BUTT ON HIS HEAD! Magic Master also has a sweet skull staff, but there is not butt on the skull. Magic Master is let loose by Prince Yur-juhn and heads off to fight the ones who trapped him.
Leader Dwarf (???) – Is the leader, and is also an archer. All of the dwarves are former generals who have been shrunk in size. All of the dwarves raise Yaur-gi when they find her in the river as an infant. Like most of the dwarves, I am not sure who played him. None of the dwarves are given names, so I named them based on their traits.
Vain (???) – He’s so vain, he probably thinks this Roll Call entry is about him.
Drunky (???) – Are these the Seven Dwarfs or the Seven Duffs? I guess Drunky parties hard to hide his crippling lack of self-esteem, his fast-living lifestyle heading towards a colision course with reality one day soon.
Sleepy (???) – He’s sleepy, thus his name. He’s also the only dwarf whose seems to correlate to one of the classic dwarves besides the Leader Dwarf.
Farty (Hui Bat-Liu) – Guess how Farty got his name! Yep, toilet humor isn’t just the realm of modern day PG-13 comedies. Hui Bat-Liu is in the greatest movie of all time, Fantasy Mission Force, as well as Island Warriors
Mohawk (???) – I know if I was a dwarf, I would have a mohawk. Because why not? Mohawk is not the brightest of bulbs, but does help sneak Princess Yaur-gi into the castle to meet Prince Yur-juhn again.
Screechy (???) – Screechy has a screechy voice, thus his name. Yep. Good times.
An ancient kingdom of women fight for survival in the brutal sea, facing a rival male tribe as well as marauding pirates. Along the way they learn to love men and not be Amazons, but until then we have plenty of scenes of women fighting guys, which is the kind of thing I enjoy on my TV screen. There are things I don’t enjoy, namely castration, but as the film seems to think you have no ill effects besides turning gay it is less difficult to watch than films with blood spewing everywhere. Island Warriors is a Taiwanese production, most noticeable with the cast names in the beginning, and a few Taiwanese actors who pop up.
Most of the names are just guesses, thanks to the ambiguous credits and terrible sound quality from the VHS tape (Restored DVD for Island Warriors? Why bother when Into the Blue 2 and Bratz Babyz are taking their place on the shelves! EDIT – I guess now there is one!) The worst part of explaining movies like this with 18 or so main characters is setting up who is who. No matter how organized the beginning section is, half of the time I get confused and I’m the one who writes the review! The confusion is doubled when the credits fail to say who the actors play, and character names become guesses or nicknames given due to them never being named on camera. Oddly enough, it is also one of the best parts of explaining these films, as even if I am completely wrong it is the movie’s fault and not mine. Taiwanese films around this time are one of the worst offenders on having dozens of semi-famous people popping up in the film that I feel obligated to recognize, and mixed up with several different ways of translating Chinese names so you will see a familiar actor running around with a completely different name. So the Roll Call will be long, confusing, but the best we can get with what information we have. If you see something that looks like an error, or know more information, feel free to shoot me an email or drop by the message board. I had help through *Kung Fu Films* and the HKMDB
Queen Nadenwa (Elsa Yeung Wai San) – Queen of the island, and keeper of the tradition that men need to be purged. With the island under constant attack by pirates, no wonder. Queen Nandenwa rules with an iron fist, but isn’t unreasonable. Knows the island needs better defenses against the pirates. Elsa Yeung Wai San was in a bunch of kick-butt movies from Taiwan, including Fight for Survival, The Challenge of the Lady Ninja, Pink Force Commando and the semi-sequel Golden Queen’s Commando, Deadly Silver Angels, The Deadly Angels, and Golden Ninja Warrior. I mention those because I have copies of them and they will be showing up here, hopefully sooner rather than later.
Princess Jung Chi (Fong Fong-Fong) – The Queen’s Sister and easily swayed by handsome men from Men Island. She spends most of the film trying to hide Lu Tin Yi so he doesn’t get Bobbittized. Fong Fong-Fong was in Monkey War, but I don’t remember which part she played.
Princess Pan Hueng Chi(???) – Practices Virgin Kung Fu, a school not too common today. Is over 100 years old, then she dies due to loss of virginity. And you thought your first time was bad! She trains the troops on the island and generally beats up a lot of pirates.
Chen Chi (Ng Haau Ling) – Part of a lesbian couple with Su Chi. Chen Chi turned in the male lover of another girl named Yen Chi, causing him to be castrated and die. The two would later fight over it. Chen Chi is aggressively anti-male. She is probably cutting off someone’s wang right now. Her character name might instead be Ching Gei. Unbelievably, Ng Haau Ling may have made only one other film.
Fanny (Teresa Tsui Jun Jun) – Whip Girl who is among the most anti-male members of the island. Teresa Tsui Jun Jun was also in Pink Force Commando and the semi-sequel Golden Queen’s Commando
Su Chi (???) – Lesbian lover of Chen Chi, in the bath as Ping tries to seduce her. I have no idea who played her, it may be Yue Fung.
Unknown Prim girl (Mary Wong Ma Lee) – This unknown prim girl was present with most of the royal cast but never did or said much. She doesn’t even get a name said for me to misinterpret. Mary Wong Ma Lee shows up in Fantasy Mission Force as the leader of the Amazon Women.
Unknown Other girl (Hsia Kwan Li) – Another girl who never got a name, this one is a good fighter, but didn’t seem included in the big group of royal people. But with so many deaths by the end, maybe she got a promotion. Hsia Kwan Li was in Zu: The Warriors from the Magic Mountain
General (An actual tiger) – A Tiger who is Queen Nadenwa’s bodyguard. He thinks islands of women are Gr-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-reat!
Ping Da Hi (Hui Bat Liu) – The guy who supplied a treasure map to a lost treasure on Women Island, then convinced two of his friends to go with him. They are all captured, and Ping Da Hi has to lie through his teeth to keep everyone alive. It doesn’t keep his crotch alive, as he is castrated for being too much like a horny guy. Hui Bat Liu is best known in the US for playing Stone in Fantasy Mission Force, he is also in Pink Force Commando and Golden Queen’s Commando.
Ha Li (Pa Gwoh) – called Dr. Ha by Ping Da Hi in an effort to save everyone’s lives. Thus the women think he is a real doctor, and he has several “humorous” scenes doing doctor things and bumbling into the right answer. Pa Gwoh is also in Wolf Devil Woman.
Chan Ping (???) – Is a Cannon Maker, but only in told-to-the-women-so-they-wouldn’t-die form. So not a cannon maker, but has to make cannons. Is almost killed when a cannon explodes, but is saved by sex. I got no clue who played him.
Pirate Leader (???) – Leader of the pirates who raid the island for fun and profit, then sell bootleg DVDs of them raiding the island under the name Spiderman 4.
Big Pirate (Cheng Fu Hung) – A rather large pirate who is captured by the women, then leads a breakout in search of treasure. Cheng Fu Hung also shows up in Fight for Survival, The Zodiac Fighters, and Fantasy Mission Force.
Wan Tin Yu (Yun Zhong Yue) – Men Island Chief and a wise leader. Doesn’t want animosity with the women. Helps them against the pirates.
Lu Tin Yi (Don Wong Tao) – Friend of Lao who falls in love with Princess Jung Chi after he goes to Women Island to complain of their constant castration, putting himself next in the queue for castration. Princess Jung Chi saves him.
Lau Seung-Him as Monkey King (Sun Wukong)
??? as Pig (Zhu Bajie)
??? as Tangseng
??? as Sand Monk (Sha Wujing)
Monkey King and his friends encounter two con job fake priests, Spider Women with a Giant Fire-breathing Spider, and flying birdmen lead by shapeshifting bats. This is a collection of what looks like three episodes of a Journey to the West (or Monkey) Series combined into a movie. Problem is, the movie is is Chinese, with zero subtitles! I completely missed the giant “No Subtitles” sticker on the video box, totally enthralled by the painting of a giant flame-breathing spider on the video cover. Not knowing what’s going on in a movie isn’t a new phenomenon here at TarsTarkas.NET, even when the film is in English! Unlike the trickle of Turkish cinema that pops around without any subtitles at all, this time we got the movie’s number. Armed with a Chinese-speaking girlfriend (HI, Honey!) we trudged bravely forward. There is also a second advantage, with a film involving a story with such history as this, it’s easy to find some further information online, so that will be stop number one!