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Issue #117 HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES July 22nd, 2002

Golden Swallow
(1987; Alan and Eric Films)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Gam yin chi
Mandarin: Jin yan zi
English: Golden Swallow

One of the first imitations of A CHINESE GHOST STORY to hit theatres, GOLDEN SWALLOW follows that Ching Siu-tung hit closely but has rewards of its own. While travelling across the countryside, scholar Lao Chih-chiu (singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming) saves a golden sparrow from some children. Unbeknownst to Chih-chiu, the bird transforms into Hsiao-hsueh (Cherie Chung Cho-hung, looped by someone else), a beautiful spirit forced to acquire victims for a powerful, soul-draining demon (played by 60s star, Ivy Ling Po). Hsueh and Chih-chiu fall in love but the demon discovers their affair and tries to kill the scholar. Hsueh saves Chih-chiu's life and the demon agrees to let him live on the condition that he never reveals anything about the spirit world to anyone. Some time later, Chih-chiu encounters Lu Hsiao-ping (also Chung), a young woman who, unbeknownst to him, is actually Hsiao-hsueh. The pair gradually fall in love and marry, with a daughter following soon after. Their happiness is shattered one day when Chih-chiu accidentally breaks his vow of silence, prompting the demon to take Hsiao-hsueh and his child away. His only hope to save them from eternal damnation lies in the hands of the powerful swordsman Fong Ching-tien (Norman Tsui Siu-keung), who fought the creature years before.

As beautifully designed as its model (both the work of celebrated art director Hai Chung-man/Yee Chung-man), GOLDEN SWALLOW is consistently dazzling from a visual standpoint and its plotting corresponds more to the sort of old-school storytelling one associates with the classics of Chinese literature. The costumes, locations, wirework, and special effects are also first rate. The one area where it falls short is the central romance. While attractive, Cherie Chung and the bland Anthony Wong Yiu-ming just do not have the same chemistry that Leslie Cheung and Joey Wang possess in A CHINESE GHOST STORY, so the main dramatic conflict of the narrative does not generate the intended anxiety. In an unusual bit of casting, Eric Tsang Chi-wai (who also produced the picture) and Richard Ng Yiu-hon provide amusing comic relief as rival Taoist swordsmen who are forever arguing over who has the superior abilities. Memorable line: "There's only one type of man...the edible ones." Talented composer Law Wing-fai (DREAM LOVERS) is credited with the music but there are also cues lifted from the Hollywood films NO WAY OUT (Maurice Jarre) and NEAR DARK (Tangerine Dream). Nat Chan Pak-cheung (in a rare, non-comic role) and Chen Jing put in brief appearances. O Sing-pui (MY FLYING WIFE, COMIC KING) directed.

Cover art courtesy Mega Star.

Eric Tsang (left) and Richard Ng (right). Image courtesy Mega Star.

Cherie Chung. Image courtesy Mega Star.
Mega Star #MS/DVD/392/HK (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synched)

Optional Subtitles In English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)

9 Chapters Illustrated In the Menu With Stills

Letterboxed (1.86:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

Macrovision Encoded

93 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains mild fantasy violence and mild horror

DVD menu courtesy Mega Star.

Hong Kong: IIA
Ontario: PG
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]

The first few minutes are heavily speckled and drab but the presentation improves thereafter, offering attractive hues and good detail. The 5.1 sound is just re-distributed mono but adequate. A trailer is the only extra.

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