Hong Kong Digital is sponsored by Poker Industries. Please see the Hong Kong Digital home page for a special offer from Poker Industries to Hong Kong Digital readers.

Issue #157a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES April 28th, 2003

The Twelve Gold Medallions
(1970; Shaw Brothers)

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

Cantonese: Sap yi gum pai
Mandarin: Shi er jin pai
English: Twelve Gold Medallions

During the war precipitated by a Tartar invasion, patriotic swordsman Miao Lung (Yueh Hua) sets about eliminating a series of messengers carrying twelve imperial decrees fashioned in the form of golden medallions. With these edicts, traitorous Prime Minister Qin Hui hopes to stop General Yao Fei and his supporters from continuing to resist the Tartar advance. Miao has successfully intercepted and killed three of the men thus far but he now faces a dilemma. His former master, Hua Shan clan leader Jin Yantang (Ching Miao), has been given the responsibility of seeing that the medallions are delivered, which means that the two are now mortal enemies. Complicating matters further is the fact that Jin's daughter, Jin Suo (Chin Ping), is Miao's intended. The elder Jin poisons his daughter's relationship with Miao but the girl shares the swordsman's view of her father's actions and works to undermine him. Jin concocts and executes some elaborate deceptions to try and sneak the medallions past Miao and some other loyal swordsmen. Although these ultimately fail, Jin remains a grave threat and the only person in the region powerful enough to defeat him is Green Bamboo Cane Master Meng Ta-pei (Ku Wen-chung) but the elderly hermit refuses to get involved in the conflict.

Set during the Sung Dynasty, this Shaw Brothers production gets off to a roaring start and offers periodic bursts of swordplay and kung fu (co-choreographed by Sammo Hung Kam-po, in one of his very first outings as an action director), with more wire-enhanced stunts than were generally seen at this time. The film does not fare quite as well with its dramatics, however. The strained relationship between Miao and Suo is not very convincingly depicted, as the former never really even tries to explain the reasons behind his actions and the girl's misinterpretation of them. Also, some more could have been made of Suo's decision to betray her father, the magnitude of which only really registers during the climax. That said, genre fans will still find much to engage them here, including not one but two duels at the local inn. Trivia note: the movie's writer/director, Cheng Kang/Ching Kong (KIDNAP), is the father of Tony Ching Siu-tung who, of course, went on to choreograph and/or direct more than his fair share of high flying period martial arts fantasies. Ku Feng, Fan Mui-sang, James Tien Chun are among the men Miao faces during the course of the picture. THE TWELVE GOLD MEDALLIONS received "Honorable Mention for Dramatic Feature" at the 1971 Golden Horse Awards in Taiwan.

Cover art courtesy Intercontinental.

Back cover Intercontinental.
Intercontinental #611957 (Hong Kong label)

Dolby Digital 5.1

Post-synced Mandarin Language

Optional Subtitles in English, Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indonesian

12 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Clips

Letterboxed (2.35:1)

Coded for Region 3 Only

NTSC Format

101 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains brutal violence

DVD menu courtesy Intercontinental.

Ontario: PG
Singapore: PG [Passed With Cuts]

The presentation is up to Celestial's usual high standards, boasting a spotless image, rich hues, and excellent detail. The 5.1 re-mix finds the company once again playing around with the score by adding additional instrumentation that is not complimentary but merely distracting. Some minor noise can be heard on the track from time to time but the audio is, otherwise, perfectly acceptable. Both the original theatrical trailer (looking far inferior to the restored transfer) and a video spot can be found in the Special Features section, along with two interesting interviews. Noted cinematographer Arthur Wong Ngok-tai (13 minutes) discusses his memories of Cheng Kang, the differences in filming kung fu films vs. swordplay pictures, the problems of shooting effective close-ups with anamorphic lenses, how to disguise wires during action sequences, etc. Chiao Chiao (who has a supporting role in the movie as Chin Ping's elder sister) discusses her early work in Taiwan for the Central Motion Picture Company, dubbing assignments, her memories of Shaw Brothers, and other topics in a 19 minute segment. The Movie Information section includes the poster, stills, and behind-the-scenes shots, while the usual bios/filmographies and additional promo spots are also available. The English packaging blurb makes the ridiculous claim that Yueh Hua later "starred" in RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, when he has, perhaps, 30 seconds of screentime in that Jackie Chan hit! Celestial would have been wiser to mention Sammo Hung's involvement with the picture, which goes undocumented, possibly because he is credited here under the pseudonym Chu Yuan-lung.

is available at Poker Industries.

Having problems printing this review with Netscape? Go to the File option in the Netscape Task Bar, click the Page Setup from the sub-menu and make sure that in the Page Options listings, the Black Text box is clicked. This should resolve the "no text" printing problem.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2003. All Rights Reserved.
E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com