The Story in the Temple
of Red Lily
This is one of those films that you always bump
into when going through the videos in the kung fu shops here in New York.
With its cover of a fierce looking Judy Lee (aka Chia Ling) it is an easy
purchase. I have been a fan ever since watching her final amazing fight
in Queen Boxer, but have not really followed up on many more of her films.
I have had this one sitting amongst a pile of unwatched kung fu videos
for ages now, but I am in the mood for some kung fu femme fatales this
weekend and where better to start than with Judy Lee.
But perhaps not this film. It is like opening
the refrigerator after being away for weeks and discovering that you forgot
to throw out the opened carton of milk. This one is a rancid stinker –
the kind of kung fu film to make you want to stay away from kung fu films
for a while. The plot is unfathomable and the choreography looks to be
in sloooow motion. One would see better fighting in a high school play
than here. Truly bad for the most part. It stars – so the credits say –
Judy Lee and Tan Tao-liang – but not that you would notice. Tan Tao-liang
stops by long enough for a cup of coffee and Judy doesn’t really show up
until the second half of the film.
The story basically revolves around a group of
conspirators – headed by the evil Baron – who have killed all the monks
in the Temple of Red Lily and replaced them with their own. Now these monks
should be in GQ Monk magazine with their fabulous gold robes and these
very large fashionable bells they carry around to kill people with. The
Baron also is trying to kidnap the Prince – and as he whispers to his two
giggly concubines – “then I will be king and you will both be queens”.
They like the sound of that.
Protecting the Prince is a bunch of people with
no personalities and an inability to kill the bad guys. They defeat them
but can’t kill them and so we have to see the same couple of bad guys keep
coming back to get beaten up again. Why don’t they practice more before
getting beaten up again? Now the second half picks up a bit when Judy Lee
decides to lend a hand with her brother Tan. Tan Tao-liang throws a few
kicks and then remembers that he is making another movie next door and
beats it – since Judy has her face on the cover of the video she has to
Her fights are definitely a notch up – but still
feel clunky and much slower than she is capable of. Part of the problem
is that she has no good competition. She is surrounded at one point by
a large party of bell swinging monks – who looked quite deadly in practice
– but have the unfortunate habit of running right into the path of her
two cutting blades. The final fight is probably the best – as Judy, a small
boy with a deadly metal hoop, another good guy and a giant black bird all
take on the main bad guy. You have to feel a bit sorry for the villain
though because he is out numbered, is about sixty years old and has a huge
ugly mole on his face. I don't blame him for bring a little cranky. I always
find it interesting that in many of these kung fu films ganging up on the
bad guy in the end is considered smart not bad manners as it would in a
My rating for this film: 3.0