The Imperial Sword

This is a very entertaining Judy Lee (Chia Ling) vehicle that is full of well choreographed action from beginning to end, a serviceable plot that that is not original but provides for lots of opportunities to fight and loads of Judy Lee. Not only does she look very good in her action scenes, she just plain looks great in this film – moving or standing still. Not that an actress looking attractive in a kung fu film should matter to a kung fu purist – but since I am far from that I very much appreciated the charming outfits she wears and the myriad of close ups that director, Chang Chi Hwa, provides us. In most of the films I have seen her in she has been a bit masculine and often disguised as a male, but not here. She even gets a tiny bit flirtatious at times.
The Blood Reign Sword – a valuable imperial treasure – has come into the possession of Judy Lee and nearly everyone in the film is trying to kill her in order to get it. She on the other hand is passing herself off as two people - one a female beggar and the other a sweet waitress -  while she looks for the man who killed her father. As the female beggar she walks about town in a raggedy looking patched up ensemble and wooden staff, but when she spies some men chasing after a frightened woman the staff comes into action as she sends them spinning in all sorts of directions. This first scene clues you in that this will be a good film – the fighting is crisp, Judy looks very able and the stuntmen get knocked about with great panache.
Another mysterious good looking stranger shows up in town and he seems to know a great deal and shows up whenever Judy is in trouble – which is often. Though she is a wonderful fighter, she is not the smartest woman around and she keeps walking into traps and going up against overwhelming odds. The main bad guy – an expert with the eagle claw – not only has lots of expendable minions to get killed by Judy, he also is able to send for some professional killers to take her on. This makes for some fine small action scenes and some other larger scale ones that leave dead bodies piled around the grounds like garden furnishings.
Eventually a relative of Judy’s is killed in cold blood and she brings the Blood Reign sword out of hiding and really gets down to killing. The sword fights are excellent – lots of clashing of blades, spurts of blood, jumping or flipping over opponents or to the roof tops, deadly poisoned darts being deflected – all good stuff. Eventually only the main bad guy is left standing – but his kung fu is much superior to Judy’s and her ally – so they use many clever traps of their own in hopes of bringing him down.

My rating for this film: 7.5