The Beautiful Swordswoman

A young woman brought up in a respectable household, appears to the entire world to be a sweet and innocent daughter whose interests lie mainly in finery and pretty things. Instead though, she has secretly been training in the martial arts and has become extremely accomplished with the sword. The only other person in the house who is aware of this is her silent, deadly and devoted governess.
This is really the only thing the film has in common with a more recent and much better-known film, but I thought it made for a good lead in! This 1983 wuxia film isn’t in fact very well known, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. A similar plot has been done a few other times that I know of – but partly because the female is the protagonist – it feels fresh and interesting. The film also makes a real and successful effort to create a sense of tragedy that carries the film much more than the action does. There is a fair amount of swordplay in the film – and a good deal of bloodletting – but though done with some style (especially the opening) the two women don’t seem to have the physical and action skills needed to pull it off. They do give fine dramatic performances though that really pulls you into the story.
The film opens with the stylish slash of a lurid pulp novel cover. A new bride is being led to the bed by her expectant fiancé – but as she raises her veil – he receives something highly unexpected – a smile and a knife thrust to his belly. Three merry wedding guests are outside the room voyeuristically listening to the newly wed couple – one quick fling later and all three have sharp objects protruding from their heads. The young widow then quietly jumps out the window where another female meets her and the two of them disappear into the dark. Within a few minutes (of screen time), the two of them have laid ambushes for two other groups and with flashing swords have killed them all.
Soon though they are back home, the young woman – Yuan Yuan (played I believe by Wong Ling) is giggling and coquettishly flirting while the governess sternly looks on. As the story precedes it is revealed that Yuan Yuan has been ordered by her mysterious sifu – an old man – to carry out these assassinations. Yuan Yuan has no idea why – but feels obliged to follow his direction – but after a few more assassinations she receives one to kill her father. It gets quite emotional, as ugly secrets from far in the past spill out and the daughter who truly loves her father – and the father who dearly loves his daughter – have to face each other in a deadly duel.

One actress in the film with only a small non-action role looks to me an awful lot like Elaine Lui - but this film is three years before her first credit on the HKMDB.

My rating for this film: 6.5