Roving Swordsman


Reviewed by: sukting

May 04, 2008

Rating: three

How long
1.5h

Foreword
Since no vcds on this ATV drama are out yet, I had to watch the movie version. Since the movie is in Mandarin, I shall write the characters’ names in Chinese.

Story

Mu Rong Gu Fang (Cheng Hor Wai) wants to control the pugilistic world again after her family falls from glory. Thus she seeks help from (Gu Fung) to plan to abduct the royal prince, Bai Yu Lou’s (Kwan Hoi San) daughter, Bai Bing (Jing Li). Top constable, Liu (Kwan Fung) is after Du Gu Yan (Goo Gun Chung) to capture him for killing a rich man.

Gu Fang enlists Du Gu ‘help in the plan after rescuing him. Liu is puzzled why Yan goes missing. Reverend Wu Xiang has brought him to the secret hideout at the valley behind a hidden door. Beign a master of healing, he soon nurses him back to health and restores his good looks.

Shen Sheng Yi (Di Lung) is having a walk in the woods with Bing when a woman sends the red blossom invitation to them. This indicates that Bing is going to be kidnapped by the red blossom thief. Sheng Yi decides to get his sweetheart, Bu Yan Fei (Ou Yeung Pui San) to protect her. Sheng Yi is with the Bais to stay over at Delightful Inn.

Yan and _____ pretend to rescue Bing from an attack and introduce them to their master, Gu Fang. Both parties have dinner together. Gu Fang introduces a woman replica. Suddenly many men appear for an attack. Gu Fang then kidnaps Bing to put inside the coffin to tie her up. Being a careful woman, she touches her face to ensure that she is Bing.

Pleased with herself, she gets her maid to pretend to be Bing. But soon the men see through Gu Fang’s scheme (this woman wants to divulge news to Gu Fang but gets caught) and demands for the exchange. Bing manages to leave a message for Sheng Yi under a table before she is kidnapped. All come to the woods. Sheng Yi sees that Yan Fei is about to step on a wire to let off explosives and stops her on time. He holds her foot gently away from the wire and gets all to escape.

Soon, both parties get involved in a battle. Yan and _______ manage to get the box back to the inn but Gu Fang suspect that it isn’t that simple. Sure enough, they open the box to only discover rocks in it. Sheng Yi comes to the inn. He exposes Gu Fang’s identity of the red blossom thief. They do the switch when Yan park the carriage under the cliff while both are fighting. Gu Fang is angry and orders her men to retreat.

Sheng Yi decides that the inn isn’t a safe place to stay and they should leave. Liu comes to search for Yan and agrees to help them. A sedan lives with Yan Fei, Sheng Yi and Yu Lou while a box is with Liu. Gu Fang knows that Bing is in the box. She gets two groups of men to ambush both parties. Sheng Yi doesn’t dare to move with many men surrounding them but Yu Lou discovers that ‘they’ are all straw men.

Liu is outnumbered and the box is taken away. Gu Fang wants Yu Lou’s property for exchange. All wonder why Gu Fang chooses the lily valley. Yu Lou deduces that the place only has a route out but Sheng Yi is confident that they can trap Gu Fang’s gang with their army.

Here comes the day of the exchange. Sheng Yi is cautious as Bing is with them. He finally gets the box back but ‘Bing’ attacks them. She is an imposter but he manages to injure her seriously. Gu Fang wants to bribe him in vain. Gu Fang and her men escape back to the valley headquarters. She is sure that her men do not betray her – so what actually go wrong?

Reverend Wu Xiang is angry that Yu Lou does not give in to their terms and pulls Bing’s arm. She pulls away from him and this arouses Gu Fang’s suspicion. She recalls that Yan Fei doesn’t help Sheng Yi in the battle earlier at the inn and prefers to stay indoors. Not many has seen Bing’s face – is this one the real one? Sure enough, Bing is actually Yan Fei. Although Sheng Yi is worried over her safety, she manages to persuade him to let her deal with the danger alone.

All the while, Bing is beside Sheng Yi, under his protection. Who can hurt her when he is with her? (This is unexpected – Sheng Yi is wise indeed – to romance with his sweetheart in the woods at the same time. Yet, he also makes sure that Yan Fei wears purple clothes as him so that they look like a couple in the eyes of others.) Gu Fang is enraged and fights with Yan Fei.

Sheng Yi comes to the hideout. All are puzzled how the people can hide. Sheng Yi discovers Yan Fei’s hairpin at the switch of the secret door. He is pleased that Yan Fei has not disappointed him. Both parties get into a fierce fight. Bing insists of tagging along as she is worried for Yan Fei. Seeing that Yan Fei is trapped in a cage, Sheng Yi sets her free, asking over her injury anxiously. Upon knowing that she is fine, he gets her to bring Bing away.

He tails Gu Fang into a secret chamber and is trapped in a sea of mirrors. Which is the real Gu Fang after seeing so many reflections? He gets confused and is hurt repeatedly. She suddenly vanishes and Reverend Wu Xiang takes over. He is the one who gets the mirrors from Persia to come up with this formation to trap him. Sheng Yi destroys many mirrors but he is lost in the maize. Liu and Yu Lou kill the other enemies before joining him. The three try in vain to find their way out.

Yan keeps ambushing them but gets a wound on his shoulder instead. The three men are clueless over where he has been as they can’t find him behind the mirrors. Sheng Yi finds a trace of blood, follows it but stops when the blood trace vanishes. He then looks up to see a shiny ball tied to the ceiling. He pulls it and finds a secret passage that leads underground.

The three men go down and watch Gu Fang busily clearing her gold and others to the ship. She is sorry to see her family hideout going to waste but vows to seek revenge soon. She then lights up the explosives, thinking that the three are still upstairs. Al l are stunned when the men appear. Both parties put on a fierce fight. Sheng Yi kills Reverend Wu Xiang. Liu and Yu Lou kill Yan on the ship.

Sheng Yi wonders where Gu Fang goes. She suddenly appears from behind and hits his acupoint. He can only watch in silence when she draws his sword away from him. Gu Fang laughs haughtily – so the famous swordsman is going to die in her hands and she can have her revenge now. Sheng Yi is about to close his eyes to accept his sad fate when he sees Gu Fang vomiting blood.

Liu and Yu Lou appear behind her to pierce their weapons into her body. Refusing to give up, she pulls the final switch, wanting to end her life with them. Luckily, the three men run into safety quickly, leaving her to die alone in the explosion. Liu is grateful to Sheng Yi for solving the case so that he can answer to the court while Yu Lou is pleased that Sheng Yi helps him again. Yan Fei promises to visit Bing soon and leaves with Sheng Yi to roam the wilds.

Conclusion

If you wish to watch real kungfu movies, please go for Shaw movies. They are really good. No wonder they are so popular in the 70s or 80s. But this movie falls short of my expectation as the characters are not fully explored. Only the villains stand out. Still, the cast have done their best in handling the fighting scenes. We will not get to see such good ordination now.

Shen Sheng Yi is not like this in the novel. This movie character is very conceited – always claiming that he is Shen Sheng Yi whenever Gu Fang demands to know how he knows of her next step. When Yu Lou mentions that the lily valley is a dangerous spot, he says that he will want to see how Gu Fang can escape from that narrow route.

This aloofness nearly costs him his dear life. If not for Yu Lou and Liu coming in the nick of time, he will be doomed to die in the hands of a despicable woman.

Di Lung did not bring out the chivalry and humbleness Sheng Yi has although he has shown his witty nature. He seems to look righteous on the exterior and the way he lectures others – shows how arrogant he is – even when he is talking to Yu Lou – a prince! I keep shaking my head. Sheng Yi definitely looks like a master and not a swordsman here.

By right, Shen Sheng Yi is supposedly to be best dressed but in this case, it is Yan who stands out in his white gown. Goo was in top form, stealing the glamour from Di Lung with his agility and ruthless strikes. He looks charming for an evil role. All are taken in when he helps them out at the inn. Who doesn’t as he seems to be so gentle and polite? Why isn’t he asked to act as Sheng Yi instead?!

Pui Shan has limited scenes so it is hard to judge her acting. Jing Li compliments Di Lung well although they have very few scenes as a couple. She also does well in fighting scenes too. The mischievous grins and remarks that she makes to Gu Fang will surely amuse you – showing that she has the beauty and the brains too. Both women are compatible with Di Lung when standing beside him. Still, Cheng Hor Wai is the best as she makes an evil Gu Fang.

The story only reserves about 70% of the novel. It isn’t as fascinating as it is supposed to be as many details are omitted. The ATV television version was so much better. Do go for the latter version if you have the chance.


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