Posts tagged "Lau Hak-Suen"

The Swords of Tien Shan (Review)

The Swords of Tien Shan

aka 天山龍鳳劍 aka Tian shan long feng jian aka 神劍女瘋俠 aka The Magic Sword and the Eccentric Lady Knight aka Shen Jian Nu Feng Xia

1961
Written and directed by Wong Fung

Mysterious super swords cause a whole heap of problems in The Swords of Tien Shan. This Cantonese wuxia flick is believed to be a coproduction of two different companies, each producing one part of the two-part feature film. According to reports, part 1 was produced by Hoo King Motion Picture Co., while part 2 is credited to Lap Tat Film Co. Wong Fung (How The Ape Girl Stole The Lotus Lamp, The Blonde Hair Monster, and Golden Skeleton) wrote and directed both parts, so this looks like just a unique way of crediting a coproduction. The two films were later edited down into a single film and retitled The Magic Sword and the Eccentric Lady Knight (神劍女瘋俠), which is the version I am reviewing as the original two films are unavailable (and might be lost?)

The editing of two films into one does cause a bit of a problem, because the flow of the film is now even more disjointed, and at times characters wander off for reasons not explained, or are introduced as already established people. This is complicated because there are already so many characters, and because this is an older Cantonese wuxia flick, the pacing is already a lot more casual than a modern film. The disjointedness hurts the film, but it doesn’t mean it’s awful, it just becomes a weirder wuxia epic. It also focuses on different actors than the story of the original films, downplaying and almost eliminating several major characters. Instead, the film focuses mainly on Josephine and Sek Kin, with a lot of Connie thrown in (though at least one major Connie Chan scene is MIA)

The important thing to remember is there is a guy in a gorilla costume! This is important, because that makes The Swrods of Tian Shan TarsTarkas.NET’s entry into the new MOSS conspiracy, Hairy Beasts! MOSS is the Mysterious Order of the Skeleton Suit, and is a collection of all the cool cats with cool websites/podcasts/shows who review and watch and read all sorts of crazy stuff. Check out other Hairy Beasts entries at the above link, including houseinrlyeh taking on Bigfoot, TeleportCity vs Red Riding Hood, and Monster Island Report and TheCulturalGutter discussing hairy beasts!

The gorilla costume looks like it is the same one used in How the Ape Girl Stole the Lotus Lamp, though this film was made first and the gorilla Yin-yin is a semi-major character here. I would theorize that the gorilla costume was made for this film, but I would not be surprised at all to see it show up in other earlier films, either.

Being a Cantonese wuxia flick from the 1960s, some of the familiar stars are here. Young Josephine Siao and Connie Chan are running around (Connie playing a boy once again!) Sek Kin is a former villain, Lau Hark-suen is a weirdo, Sai Gwa-Pau and Mui Yan are “comic relief”, and Simon Yuen Siu-Tin is an eccentric kung fu master and teacher. Because of how things were carved up as the two films were merged, I’ll add in some missing portions quoted directly from the HKFA synopsis. But there will be some gaps where things make little sense. And since this film is pretty darn rare, the film synopsis will be detailed detailed detailed.

Kam Ming-chu (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Female Kam sibling who is a student of Kei Sun-kung, before her brother is killed and she is driven crazy by Snake Fruit thanks to getting involved in the Swords of Tien Shan mess.
Kam Siu-long (Connie Chan Po-Chu) – Male Kam sibling (yep, Connie Chan is playing a boy again!) who is killed when the Swords of Tien Shan mess is dropped on his rooftop. Eventually risen from the dead in a non-zombie form. Oddly enough, the Kam parents disappear from the film after his funeral and neither sibling bother to look them up later or even let them know Kam Siu-long is alive again.
Kei Sun-kung (Sek Kin) – Sifu of the Kam siblings who is a former bandit, and might not be as former as you think. He has one weakness: being behind him!
To Sam-tin (Lau Hak-Suen) – An eccentric witchdoctor who has been driven insane via ingesting Snake Fruit. He’s sane enough to try to steal the Swords of Tien Shan when they surface. Lau Hak-Suen was an actor who appeared in 488 films from 1934 until 1983 (his death). Towards the end of his career his output slowed down and he tried his hand at directing a few times. His quote “Ladies, please drink up for it’s only sugar water” lives on in the internet today.
Fatty Disciple (Mui Yan) – To Sam-tin’s larger bumbling assistant who spends most of the film doing goofy things.
Scrawny Disciple (Sai Gwa-Pau) – To Sam-tin’s scrawny bumbling assistant who also spends most of the film doing goofy things. Can act like a cat.
Iron Arhat (Simon Yuen Siu-Tin) – Monk who lives in a cave meditating all day, when he isn’t wandering around in graveyards reviving dead children. Is the most powerful person in the film, thus he doesn’t do much of anything.
Yin-yin (???) – Awesome gorilla who lives with Iron Arhat and screams an all too human scream. Likes to do good deeds.


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4 comments - What do you think?
Posted by Tars Tarkas - May 20, 2012 at 10:24 pm

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