aka 白骨陰陽劍(四集) aka Bai gu yin yang jian, si ji aka Ingenious swords, part four 1963HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Directed by Ling Yun
American elections in gif form!
This is it, the final chapter of the saga of The White-Boned Sword, the thrilling tale of some powerful swords that everyone wants so of course it attracts a bunch of jerks! Don’t leave yet, we still got one more brand new monster showing up later in the film, but first we have the amazing battle of the undead happening! When last we left, Wong Tin-ho had been poisoned, so Wu Sheung-fung was in search of the rare White-bone Grass to save him, but there was a pack of dancing skeletons in the way! Luckily, Luk Fong-fei and Vampire Lady were also around so Vampire Lady could send her pack of hopping vampires to fight the dancing skeletons. Thus the battle is joined…
Wong Tin-ho (Walter Tso Tat-wah) – Poisoned at the end of the last part, after Wu Sheung-fung rescues him by getting the antidote, he can help the group with several adventures before the final fight against the villains!
Wu Sheung-fung (Yu So Chow) – Spends the first half of the film questing for the White-bone Grass to save Wong Tin-ho, and impresses Taoist White-bone with her bravery that he gives her the Grass. Later helps the gang battle against he Fire-spitting Deadly Dragon.
Luk Fong-fei (Connie Chan Po-chu) – She’s certainly around and probably does stuff, but nothing exciting enough to get a blurb.
Vampire Lady (Kong Bo-Lin) – Vampire Lady and her vampires return to kick butt of both the skeleton and normal variety!
Kam Yan-kit (Yu Kai) – Still looking to avenge his father against Chung Ching, but he’s not so avengful that he doesn’t have time to hit on Luk Fong-fei! Stay focused, buddy!
Chung Ching (Sek Kin) – Evil conspirator who works with the three devils Heaven, Earth, and Man to possess the White-boned Swords and thus rule the martial world. Also has a dragon, which seems cooler than some swords, but what do I know?
Fire-spitting Deadly Dragon (Himself) – A dragon who hangs out at Devil Mountain, he’s either part of Chung Ching’s group or he just chills on Devil Mountain and is angry when people bug him.
Tree Spirit (Himself) – Everyone’s favorite tree monster is back, this time to fight the Fire-spitting Deadly Dragon in a battle of the sparklers!!!
aka 白骨陰陽劍(三集) aka Ingenious swords, part three aka Bai gu yin yang jian san ji 1963HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Directed by Ling Yun
Me after seeing the Kong: Skull Island trailer!
It’s now SOME UNKNOWN TIME LATER, a few things have happened. Okay, mainly one thing happened, which is Black Girl ran off and possibly recovered the White-Boned Swords only to hide them somewhere else. Exactly what happened to her will have to remain a mystery as the actress doesn’t appear in the series any more and there are no subtitles, so we can only assume she got on a bus to Mars. But who needs Black Girl when we got Wong Tin-ho, Wu Seung-fun, and Luk Fong-fei to wander around looking for Black Girl and/or the White-Boned Swords? Plus, if you are a fan of Vampire Lady, you will be happy to know that she is back as well, with an even larger squadron of hopping vampires to command! This leads to some amazing fight sequences later on with skeleton men. And there is a cool gorilla, which is all you need to know that it’s time to watch!
Wong Tin-ho (Walter Tso Tat-wah) – At one point Wong Tin-ho dresses up as a pregnant woman, and later he gets poisoned. And he’s the main star!
Wu Sheung-fung (Yu So Chow) – She doesn’t get poisoned, and goes on a journey to get to cure for Wong Tin-Ho. As well as getting involved in more martial intrigue and searching for Black Girl and/or the White-boned Swords.
Luk Fong-fei (Connie Chan Po-chu) – Now a martial arts veteren, but uncovers that Chung Ching is up to no good and that the White-boned Swords are loose once again and need to be tracked down!
Vampire Lady (Kong Bo-Lin) – Vampire Lady now has a full dozen hopping vampires, ready and able to take down the biggest threats! All hail Vampire Lady!
Kam Yan-kit (Yu Kai) – The son of Kam Tin-fung, who is killed by Chung Ching. Chung Ching convinces him that Wong Tin-ho and Wu Sheung-fung killed his father, which causes Kam Yan-kit to seek revenge against them.
Chung Ching (Sek Kin) – Sek Kin 3.0! An evil guy who does stuff that appears less evil and gains friends, though he really does what he does for more selfish reasons. Appears to have the missing White-boned Swords, killed Kam Yan-kit’s father, and conspires with his partners Heaven, Earth, and Man to poison Wong Tin-ho!
Old Devilish Eccentric (Ling Mung) – The mad wondering monk is still around and still helping people in need. This time it’s Kam Yan-kit.
Awesome Excited Gorilla (Himself) – Excited gorillas are the best gorillas, especially when they are excited to find wounded people that their master can then rescue. Awesome Excited Gorilla belongs to Old Develish Eccentric, because of course he does. He’s far too awesome to be owned by anyone else, and you can bet he’s only owned voluntarily.
aka 白骨陰陽劍(下集) aka The Yin Yang Blade aka Ingentious Swords, Part Two aka Bai gu yin yang jian, xia ji 1962HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Directed by Ling Yun
Dancing with the Trees never took off like Dancing with the Stars did…
The magic of The White-boned Sword continues with Part 2, which features slightly less monsters but slightly more martial intrigue. Which means the entry is less friendly for watching without subtitles. There is some nice sword fights, nice animated martial effects, and the return of the Tree Spirit. But there is also a bunch of people arguing, a pointless martial tournament, and weird pipe fighting that sounds cool but gets old really quick. A disappointing second entry, but the next two parts give us some more monsters so I’ll take this brief break in the fun.
Wong Tin-ho (Walter Tso Tat-wah) – Helping Luk Fong-fei and Black Girl train along with Wu Sheung-fung, but is drawn into more sword-related martial intrigue. Doesn’t really do much amazing stuff in this entry.
Wu Sheung-fung (Yu So Chow) – Still helping Wong Tin-ho train Luk Fong-fei and Black Girl, she proves her martial superiority early in this entry, and even tricks some of the dumbest villains in martial history.
Luk Fong-fei (Connie Chan Po-chu) – Daughter of a murdered family and training to get revenge, while also being a rebellious teen who sneaks out to do more martial arts stuff. Like teens do.
Pak Ha-mui aka Black Girl (Yip Wai-Ngai) – Daughter of a murdered mother and possessor of magic swords. She also is easily offended when you blame her for people being killed. She’s so over being part of a franchise and being responsible for magic swords
Vampire Lady (Kong Bo-Lin) – Vampire Lady is back in domino form. This is probably her weakest appearance in the series, but she makes up for it in the other entries.
Tree Spirit (Himself) – He’s dead but he’s back, because you can’t kill a spirit. Or at least a spirit that is connected to the sword via magic and it can summon him to fight evil.
Ghost Mother (Kam Ying-Lin) – The nefarious Ghost Mother returns, now teamed up with a new group of baddies who don’t give her any respect. She’s graduated from being the big bad to being the person killed by worse villains just to show how evil they are. At one point the synopsis calls her Blue Flower Ghostly Mother so that’s probably her full, legal name for you trivia buffs out there!
Pipe Guy (Chow Gat) – Part of a pipe-based martial sect who briefly orchestrates posession of the White-boned Swords before his group is easily tricked out of them. That must not be tobacco they are smoking in those pipes!
Sek Kin 2.0 (Sek Kin) – I never figured out what his character name was, but Sek Kin 2.0 keeps up the tradition and dies just like his identical twin brother did in Part 1. He works with the Five Element Taoists in a sword-snatching scheme that backfires because they are the villains and not the heroes in the story, you see. His name might be Three-hand Lohan Mak Tin-lung, which is a cool name but as I couldn’t prove it was him, it will go unassigned until I use it in a story I write years form now…
Old Devilish Eccentric (Ling Mung) – A mad wondering monk who is good and trains Black Girl after she runs off after fighting with Luk Fong-fei. The world needs more crazy martial guys who wander around and live in trees, so I support him 100%!
aka 白骨陰陽劍(上集) aka White-Boned Sword (Part 1) aka The Yin Yang Blade aka Ingentious Swords, Part One aka Bai Gu Yin Yang Jian, Shang Ji 1962HKMDB Link Written by Sze-To On
Directed by Ling Yun
Break out the vintage machine because we’ve got some classic Cantonese fantasy wuxia for your entertainment. The White-Bone Sword dates from 1962, and is a four-part epic that features plenty of kung fu battles, along with lots of animated martial effects and three wonderful monsters to add to our Field Guide to Cantonese Fantasy Monsters and Creatures!
The White-Bone Sword (which also goes by a lot of names such as The Yin Yang Blade and Ingentious Swords, “Ingentious” isn’t even a real word so someone done goofed up the translation machine! The Chinese title 白骨陰陽劍 has “white bone” in the name so we’re going with The White-Bone Sword as the “real” English title) is based on a serial novel by Luk Yu featured in the newspaper Wah Sing Pao. I am guessing the story has the same name in the paper, but that wasn’t explicitly stated, so don’t take that as gospel. We’re going to call the sword the White-Bone Sword, but don’t be too shocked if a stray White-Boned Sword or two slips in.
The White-Bone Sword was the inaugural film series from Longway Movie Enterprise production company, which would make about six or seven other films before disappearing. It’s directed by Ling Yun (who would go on to direct the excellent Buddha’s Palm films!) and the scripts are by Sze-To On, who wrote over 250 Hong Kong movies and if you’re even a moderate fan of Hong Kong cinema you will have seen something he wrote. Basically, this is a great creative pedigree that helped produce an above average fantasy flick series that has some cool monsters and effects even as it suffers from some of the conventions of the day, such as a slower pace and weird filler spots. As usual with these rarities, there are no English subtitles, but at TarsTarkas.NET, we don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Wong Tin-ho (Walter Tso Tat-wah) – Martial arts hero selected by his sifu to track down the White-Bone Sword along with Wu Sheung-fung. Ends up saving Luk Fong-fei and Black Girl again and again.
Wu Sheung-fung (Yu So Chow) – Martial arts heroine selected by her sifu to track down the White-Bone Sword along with Wong Tin-ho. Ends up saving Luk Fong-fei and Black Girl again and again.
Luk Fong-fei (Connie Chan Po-chu) – Daughter of a nice local dignitary until he’s murdered and their house is torched by Ghost Mother and her gang. Flees with Black Girl and her servant with the gang in pursuit until Wong Tin-ho and Wu Sheung-fung begin saving them.
Pak Ha-mui aka Black Girl (Yip Wai-Ngai) – Her mother Pak Ching-wah has a secret knife that can kill the Tree Spirit that guards the White-Bone Sword, but luckily she hid it by giving it to her daughter. Pak Ching-wah was murdered along with Luk Fong-fei’s father by the Ghost Mother gang, and Black Girl seeks revenge. Yip Wai-Ngai is sometimes called Yip Wai-yee.
Vampire Lady (Kong Bo-Lin) – Though we don’t know her real name, Vampire Lady was ubiquitous in the series and often saves the day after our heroes get in trouble bumbling into villains. She commands an army of hopping vampires with flag commands.
Tree Spirit (Himself) – A spirit who controls the weather, has a magic sword stuck in its body, and is outfitted with mouth sparklers!
Ghost Mother (Kam Ying-Lin) – A woman who uses a skull prop as a conduit to magical powers. She is the boss of Monk of Black Wind and Cheng Hang.
Monk of Black Wind and Cheng Hang (Sek Kin and Ho King-Fan) – One of them is played by Sek Kin, and the other is Ho King-Fan I don’t know which one is which, but as Monk of Black Wind has the cooler name and Sek Kin is the cooler guy, I’m assigning the roles that way. Both of them are thugs who work for Ghost Mother.
Animated Skeleton (Himself) – Ghost Mother sends this animated skeleton to attack the heroes. It can shoot animated flames from its mouth. Totally not a prop guy off camera waving a skeleton around on a string.
1963 Written by Fung Kam-pui
Directed by Mok Hong-See
It’s time for an old school Cantonese wuxia flick, and there are only two reasons to watch: The choreographed swordplay and the low budget effects. And the swordplay is brought, but the low budget effects are what brings The Invincible Yuanyang Swords to our attention. Particularly one low budget effect. Godzilla. Yes, Godzilla. Okay, he’s not really Godzilla, he just looks suspiciously like a dimestore Godzilla, complete with stolen audio of the Godzilla roar! Yes, a dragon the main character fights is pretty much Godzilla. Also there’s some complicated plot involving treasure map pieces and an evil gang that the hero thwarts, but MAN IN SUIT MONSTER!!!
Director Mok Hong-See directed 160 films in his long career, most of which are so old they probably don’t exist any more. His career is largely done by the end of the 1960s, but he is notable for helming many of Connie Chan’s Lady Bond films (which exist, we just can’t ever see them!!!) Hong Kong Film Archive also notes this is child star Lee Tsi-yeung’s screen debut. I can’t find out any more information about the kid actor, but I guess he’s important enough and will probably show up in other old wuxia films I watch. Maybe he won’t even be a brat in them!
The film’s choice to portray the dragon as a Godzilla-looking creature instead of a traditional Chinese dragon is an interesting one. It shows the popularity of Godzilla films in 1963 (who would have been fresh off his third feature, 1962’s King Kong vs. Godzilla) and how the iconic imagery can even creep into places that were filled with people who still harbored much hatred towards Japan over what they did during the war.
There are several different old Cantonese wuxia flicks with dragons and other giant monsters, the problem is there is so little information about these films in English, finding one is just luck. I know there is one other one I saw clips from (though I don’t know the name) with a different dragon monster. We’ve also found ape costumes are surprisingly common, so there are probably other cool fantasy things running around just waiting for me to write a long rambling review about! Luckily, I have a stack of vcds with a few looking very promising. I hope this costume was used again and again.
Yau Hei-sing (Walter Tso Tat-Wah) – Kung fu master who has a bratty son that gets his family involved in secret treasure maps and evil kung fu gangs. He fights a very familiar looking dragon, and later loses his kung fu. Next time, use a club so no one takes it, dude!
To Fei-yin (Law Yim-Hing) – Yau Hei-sing’s wife and a martial arts master herself. Easily provoked to jealously, but also loves her husband very much. Comes from a long line of increasingly grim sifus. Law Yim-Hing was one of the major starlettes of the post-war boom, becoming very prolific from the late 1940s until the late 1960s. He was only lured back for one film after her 1969 retirement, 1988’s Love Me and Dad. She did both martial and Cantonese opera roles, and was a well-respected dramatic actress.
King Thief Wong Ng (Leung Sing-Bo) – The greatest thief in all of China and a master of disguise. Also is a good thief, sort of like Robin Hood with a stick. I’m sure the thief’s name of Wong Ng being very close to master thief Wong Ang the Heroine is a complete coincidence!
Cheung Tai-fu (Cheung Chi-Suen) – Good government official who wants to use a treasure to help out a lot of poor people. But the evil Diu Lung and his Three Monsters are causing problems and have most of the map.
Diu Lung (Ho Ging-Fan) – Greedy official who lives by the rule that you can never have too much money. Hired the Three Monsters to find a treasure before some do-gooding idiot uses the money to help people. Can you believe it? Money belongs in vaults that you swim in!
Three Monsters Guy (Sek Kin) – Not sure of the name of Sek Kin’s Three Monsters character, but he likes to scowl.
Kwai Kin-hook (Ling Mung) – Member of the Three Monsters with prominent eyebrows. Is the de facto leader of the group.
Kwai Kin-shou (Chu Yau-Ko) – Fat member of the Three Monsters who I think is supposed to be humorous, though the comedy isn’t that physical.
Not Godzilla (man in suit!) – The King of Monsters sired some sort of bastard child while vacationing in China, and the poor monster gets killed dead. Actually, it’s a “dragon”! Because traditional Chinese dragons look like that.
1969 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:
Masked Mau (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – Masked Mau is also called Masked Hero in the subtitles. She’s the mysterious thief giving people fits and also dispensing justice from the end of a blade…a Chin Fang Sword blade, which is like the best sword blade ever! No one knows who she is or that’s she’s even a she! Who could she be…
Lo Fang-ying (Josephine Siao Fong-Fong) – orphan raised by relatives who own an inn. Her Uncle Ma taught her to hunt, shoot, and swordfight, which she totally doesn’t use as skills when dressed up as a masked thief who goes all Robin Hood on villains. Nope!
Au King (Kenneth Tsang Kong) – Mystery swords guy who comes into town just in time to catch Masked Mau, but he actually falls for her and Lo Fang-ying, which we knew would happen because he’s the only available guy in the film who isn’t instantly killed!
Lord Chao Pai-tien (Sek Kin) – Jerk who acts like a jerk because his brother-in-law is the evil emperor. Terrorizes the land and the people, and totally hits on all the young ladies. But don’t tell him he does that, because he hates facts as well.
Uncle Ma (Ling Mung) – Fang-ying’s uncle who has raised her since her parents were murdered by Lord Chao. Taught her the fighting skills she uses to slaughter hundreds of people.
Aunt Ma (Yung Yuk-Yi) – Fang-ying’s aunt who isn’t too keen on all this heroine business until she decides to pick up a sword and kill people as well. And she’s good at it. Which means she had combat training also and probably killed lots of dudes…
Hsiao Lan (Sum Chi-Wah) – Constantly endangered girl who made the mistake of being attractive in an area where Lord Chao wants all hot babes chained to his bed. Wears a hairstyle that looks like she’s sporting a mickey mouse hat at certain angles.