Issue #255            HOME          E-mail: Contact Us        BACK ISSUES            March 14th, 2005

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The Lady Hermit
(1971; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Chung Kwai leung ji
Mandarin: Zhong Kui niang zi
English: Chung Kwai (Zhong Kui) Woman ["Chung Kwai" or "Zhong Kui" is a Taoist deity that protects people from evil spirits.]

 

RATING: 8/10

REVIEW:

Impetuous, whip-wielding martial maiden Cui-ping (Shi Szu) seeks instruction from the legendary Lady Hermit, but her current whereabouts are a mystery. In actuality, this matchless swordswoman is right under her nose, disguised as an insignificant maid named Leng Yushuang (Cheng Pei-pei). Both women seek to destroy powerful bandit Black Demon (Wang Hsia), who has immodestly proclaimed himself "No. 1" of the martial world and perpetrated many murderous and criminal acts. After a period of pleading (albeit much shorter than the norm for these movies), Yushuang agrees to teach Cui-ping her kung fu. Of particular importance is the mastery of the Flying Tiger technique, which will allow her to counter Black Demon’s judo-style throws. This female bonding is thrown off-kilter by handsome swordsman Chang-chun (Lo Lieh), whom both women love, prompting Cui-ping to go and face Black Dragon on her own.

Cheng Pei-pei Shih Szu Lo Lieh

A stirring, violent swordplay adventure, Ho Meng-hua’s THE LADY HERMIT was Cheng Pei-pei’s swan song for Shaw Brothers and it seems partially structured to accommodate her departure, with the torch more or less passed to Shi Szu. The teacher student dynamic is not as integral to the plot as the synopsis might suggest, but Cheng and Shi inhabit the parts in pleasing fashion and there are some unusual touches in the storyline (a gang of extortionists terrorize the villagers disguised as ghosts: those who refuse to buy expensive charms to ward off the phantoms are brutally killed as an example to the others). The climatic battle is consistently exciting and kicks off in grand fashion with Cui-ping fighting her way up the outside of a tower, in order to make the symbolic gesture of toppling Black Dragon’s flag.

Wang Hsia Cheng Pei-pei Shih Szu


PRESENTATION:

Another day, another dollar, another dunderheaded Celestial re-mix. New music and sound FX have been ineptly utilized here and often prove to be a very irritating distraction, constantly taking one out of the movie (who out there thinks it is a good idea to have two different musical cues running at the same time?!). The visuals are as crisp, clean, and lovely as one has come to expect, but given the disastrous audio tampering, prospective buyers would be better off determining whether the VCD version offers the original mono. The DVD includes the standard extras.

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. #103834
  • Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Post-synced Mandarin Language
  • Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese
  • 12 Chapters
  • 16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)
  • 93 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Ratings & Consumer Information

  • Great Britain: BANNED
  • Quebec: 13+
  • Singapore: NC16
  • Contains brutal violence and cruelty to animals

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