Issue #240        HOME          E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com        BACK ISSUES           November 29th, 2004

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Clan of Amazons
(1978; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Luk Siu-fung chuen kei ji sau fa dai do
Mandarin: Lu Xiaofeng chuan qi zi xiu hua da dao
English: Legend of Lu Xiaofeng (Luk Siu-fung): Embroidery Bandit

 

RATING: 7/10

REVIEW:

Second-string Shaw Brothers leading man Liu Yung plays resourceful hero Lu Xiaofeng in this picturesque Chor Yuen adaptation of a characteristically intricate Gu Long martial arts mystery. A thief calling himself "The Embroidery Bandit" is preying upon rich citizens, taking their valuables and then blinding them with his needles for good measure. When no one is able to apprehend the Bandit, or even ascertain his identity, Lu’s talents are pressed into service. Aided by maiden Xuebing (Ching Li), Lu encounters much duplicity and collusion, and eventually must match wits with the titular clan of enigmatic heroines, known for their embroidered red shoes.

Background: Ching Li (left), Liu Yung Liu Yung (left), Ling Yun Shi Szu

The storyline would have benefited from two or three fewer twists, as invention eventually gives way to contrivance, and some might be disappointed to learn that the swordplay remains subordinate to the mystery. However, the various duels are staged with panache and, coupled with charismatic performances and lovely art direction, Chor effortlessly engages the viewer throughout. Lu Xiaofeng is always depicted as a lusty, gregarious sort and Liu’s interpretation is on-target. In between dodging attempts on his life (it is never a good idea to eat or drink anything offered to you in a Gu Long story), he flirts with the ladies, and uses deductive reasoning with estimable skill. A strong central character is key to a good mystery and the film has one, though it is curious that Liu does not sport Lu Xiaofeng’s characteristic pencil-thin moustache. The other players include Chan Man-na, Ling Yun, Yueh Hua (as blind swordmaster/chess expert Hua Manlou), Deborah (aka Dik Bo-lai, in a plum role as a prostitute so revered that men will pay a fortune just for a glimpse of her face), Shi Szu, Chan Shen, Yuen Wah (as a master called The Black Devil), and Kara Hui Ying-hung. The score makes extensive use of the track heard during the Librarian segments of the 1971 Canadian children’s series, THE HILARIOUS HOUSE OF FRIGHTENSTEIN.

Dik Bo-lai Chan Man-na (left), Kara Hui Norman Tsui


PRESENTATION:

Cheesy, video-generated credits aside, the presentation looks superb, but the blockheads at Celestial have once again seen fit to undermine their restoration efforts by including a terrible, overly aggressive re-mix. New music and sound FX are ineptly layered on top of the originals and sound far too prominent for comfort. The effect is bothersome and constantly takes one out of the movie. It would take up hardly any space at all to also include a 2.0 mono track – so why does the company continue this practice when other releases, like Intercontinental’s own line of Fortune Star titles, extend this courtesy to the true fans of these films? Alas, one can only hope that the more ham-fisted of these re-mixes does not occur on titles you have been waiting ages to see. The standard extras (video promos, bios/filmographies, a still gallery) are included.

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.


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DVD Specifications

  • Hong Kong Release
  • NTSC Region 3 Only
  • Intercontinental Video Ltd. #102998
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 88 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Ontario: PG
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: PG
  • Contains moderate violence

FILM REVIEW RATINGS KEY:

  • 10 A Masterpiece
  • 9 Excellent
  • 8 Highly Recommended
  • 7 Very Good
  • 6 Recommended
  • 5 Marginal Recommendation
  • 4 Not Recommended
  • 3 Poor
  • 2 Definitely Not Recommended
  • 1 Dreadful