Immortal Warriors


This 1977 period martial arts film starts off quite promisingly, but somewhere along the way it begins bogging down in too much plot. Complaining about there being too much plot may seem like a shallow thing to say – but there are times when all you want to do is watch some fairly mindless action – people whacking one another among a flurry of somersaults and spins. This film actually has a reasonably complex story that I just wasn’t in the mood for. What I really wanted was plenty of Polly Shang Kwan showing her wonderful impish humor and her great athletic skills – and though she looks terrific in her head-dress and battle gear, she didn’t have nearly enough screen time or enough action scenes to suit me.
There are tragic elements within that should have involved me more than they did, but they simply left me impatiently waiting for more action. After five months of being besieged by a rebellious army, the castle of Sung General Lu Teng is finally overridden. As he sees the end coming near, Lu Teng plans his death – and that of his family, but the faithful servant, Gua Ah Leh (Lady Rose in Miracles) offers to replace Lu Teng’s young son with her own so that the family line will continue to survive.
She has to watch her own son have his head cut off, but in an ironic twist the commander of the enemy army unknowingly decides to adopt this boy and keep Gua in his employ. The boy, Wen Lung, thus grows up along with the daughter of his father's killer, Polly, believing that the Sung’s are his enemy. They are trained by Lo Lieh (in a white wig) in the martial arts and become quite proficient by the time they are still young. While still a teenager, Wen becomes a General and is ordered to attack the Sung’s in the ongoing war.
It’s a bit confusing at first telling who are the good guys and who are the bad guys – but since the Sung’s wear neat little golden helmets while the other guys run around with ratty racoon tails hanging down their faces, I must assume the Sung’s are the ones we are suppose to be rooting for. Style should count for something. The Sungs learn who Wen really is but can’t get close to him to tell him the truth. How to do this? Why not have someone pretend to defect  - but how to make it convincing? Ah, of course, cutting off your arm brings a certain degree of authenticity to the plan.
They finally convince the young man of the truth – and now he must avenge his family that he never knew against the family that he has come to love. A thorny issue for a teenager you must admit. Should I ask dad for the keys to the carriage for a date or should I kill him. Most of the action is swordplay rather than hand to hand – and not particularly inspired for the most part. Polly is in a few fights – but nothing that really allows her to display her talents to their best effect.

My rating for this film: 5.5