Sword of Emei
aka 峨嵋霸刀 aka E Mei ba dao
Written by Wan Hoi-Ching and Ling Hon
Directed by Chan Lit-Ban
A Cantonese swordplay flick featuring a masked heroine, plenty of swordplay, piles of bodies, and one of the fastest paces I’ve seen in a Cantonese language feature from this time. Sword of Emei was a great surprise and a highly recommended action film. By 1969, the rails were starting to come off of the Hong Kong film insdustry, as pressure from the far superior Shaw Studios was making the local productions look like child plays. One way the industry tried to take up the slack was to push for some more adultish wuxia flicks, thus what would have probably been a slower female sworswoman (nuxia) film with a lot of gabbing in 1966 suddenly is a fast-paced action bonanza focused on one of the hot female leads of the time. And while it isn’t one of the Jane Bond flicks of the era, it does feature some of the plot tropes transplanted back to older China, along with the standard wuxia ideas like super swords and being noble bandits.
The main reason why this is so enjoyable is the pacing, so let’s give a hooray to action directors Han Ying-Chieh and Leung Siu-Chung for coming up with modern action film pacing 40 years ago! Sure, with the vast amount of action going on vs the probably minuscule shooting schedule, the action isn’t complex, and most characters get killed in a slash or two, but there is a ton of it and it makes up for the complex swordfighting that was still in its infancy at the time.
Sword of Emei was originally filmed in color, but the only released version I could find was a black and white vcd with a beat up print and burnt in subs (subtitles are rare on a lot of these films, so I’ll take what I can get!) thus explaining these blurry, blown up screencaps I have for you. According to the cast listings, there is an attempt to give some cross-national appeal with Mitr Chaibancha! Except I couldn’t spot him and didn’t even know he was supposed to be in this film until after it was over. Oops! Sammo Hung Kam-Bo is also somewhere among the many men slaughtered, but with all the carnage, he could be Guard #3 or Guard #343! So instead, let’s focus on the cast we know: