The Flying Dagger (1969)

Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 06/26/2010
Summary: The Wire Flying Dagger

This Chang Cheh directed swordplay film from 1969 stars Cheng Pei Pei and Lo Lieh. It is not a bad film but a little slow and rather predictable, it isn't the best film for any of the above mentioned stars of Hong Kong film.
The story is the predictable good overcomes evil but with no new angle here as a fighting film turns into a love story. There are a few things that made this film less enjoyable, like a dagger flying along its wire and some less than average acting, bereft of emotion even during sword fighting to the death; oh you just killed my 3 brothers, oh well OK (well don't do it again!) and some amusing subtitling," he is an evil chap" for instance. Having seen better films with the 2 leading actors, such as Golden Swallow, this disappointed me a little.
Cheng Pei Pei gives a few of her withering stares which always look great but not even those stares can save the slow pace of the action, but there is tomato juice a plenty in the fight scenes.
I'd say this film is worth seeing but certainly not highly recommended, more to say that you've seen it.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 09/07/2008
Summary: AVerage

Nothing special here, another Shaw brothers movie,this time with Lo Lieh being the knight in shining armour. The swordplay is typical of the era, slow paced with lots of metal clashing sounds. The plot is something that has been done many times before. It's lo Lieh's movie and he doesnt have to do much apart from looking bad and being suave at the same time.In fact, Lo Lieh looks so young here i didnt intially recognise him

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 04/15/2007

The wicked Green Dragon clan (led by the Flying Dagger Jiao Lei) rape and kill with abandon, until the Yu family (including Cheng Pei Pei) intervene. They are not strong enough to thwart the clan, so are anxious to earn the services of wandering dagger man Yang Qing (Lo Leih). They think their luck’s in for sure when he starts killing the clan on his own. However, Yang is indifferent to the power struggle and is largely just looking out for himself...

FLYING DAGGER (not to be confused with the 1993 film with the same English title, or HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS for that matter) is another example of the east looking at Westerns for inspiration. There are elements of Leone’s A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (which was a remake of YOJIMBO, of course) and Corbucci’s DJANGO here for sure. Instead of a six-shooter, our antagonist and protagonist both have four-shooters – a belt holding four daggers used with deadly accuracy by both sides. The characterisation of main character Yang Qing is also quite unusual – he’s actually a bit of a bastard. Just when you think you’ve got him (and the film) figured out, he goes and HELPS the evil Jiao Lei, for no other reason than he CAN, it seems.

Cinematically, the film opens in black and white to tell the back-story of Jiao Lei’s son raping and killing, only to be taken down decisively by our heroine. What’s unusual is that the credits are also in monochrome, and colour only enters afterwards in a huge gushing of blood right on the camera – quite an effective trick. Some of the camera work is decidedly unsteady though – and some of the Shaw trademark zooms early on nearly miss their target altogether, and made me rather dizzy for a while! Maybe Chang was training up a new cameraman at the time...

The action scenes are typical of the era, but there’s a bit of flash here and there, and copious amounts of claret. The story stalls a few times, but always manages to get back on track eventually. Its main selling point, though, appears to be Yang Qing’s seeming lack of chivalry – something quite uncommon in a film of this nature.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/08/2006
Summary: Solid swordplay film

The Yu family earn the ire of the Green Dragon clan when the daughter (Cheng Pei-Pei) kills the clan chief's son (who had just raped and killed). The Green Dragon chief wounds family head Yu Yuan with his flying daggers, and kills many others who try to protect the noble family. Wandering swordsman Ying Qing (Lo Lieh) saves the family in a fight, using his own flying dagger skills, but his allegiances and motives are unclear - he mostly seems to be showing off.

The film has many Chang Cheh touches, such as the blood-spurting death scenes and the stoic loner hero, but still keeps ties with the more romantic swordplay films that defined the 1960's. Chang obviously feels more for the macho Lo Lieh character than Cheng Pei-Pei, but gives his leading actress plenty of screen time and enough acting space to shine. The cast features many of the wu xia regulars from the time, with Yeung Chi-Hing given plenty of chances to demonstrate his classic bad guy laugh. The film mostly belongs to Lo Lieh though, who smoulders cooly and never looked more darkly handsome.

Fight scenes are alright for the time - i.e. not very complicated or sophisticated. The Flying Dagger skills don't come across as particularly impressive in a fight - King Hu would have made them cooler! The drama is stronger than the action in this one.

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 09/11/2001

Cheng Pei Pei, or anyone else for that matter, never impressed me with acting or, most importantly, sword skills during the 60s swords/heroic SB films. Those who think Cheng Pei Pei played sword like the sword was part of her obviously come from a different stand point. Because to me, she did nothing special with those swords that she waved around slowly for so long. Those were some of the slowest pacing movies I'd ever seen. But then again all movies from the 60s were like that, so I'm not blaming her. Although I was absolutely shockingly disappointed when I first saw her and Wang Yu in their acclaimed martial arts movies. I was most mislead by those rave reviews about their "magical swordplay," when all it was was something my Spanish teacher could have done given the same circumstances.

And since I am reviewing a movie, I might as well toss in my two cents. It's definitely not Cheng Pei Pei's best, and Lo Lieh isn't really that good here either. The film has good quality, though.