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江湖第一劍 (1969)
Supreme Sword

Reviewed by: dleedlee
Date: 06/15/2004

I’m very impressed, this is one of the best, if not the best, Chan Po-Chu martial arts films I’ve seen. I generally lean more towards her romantic comedies, but this one is a real winner.

Connie Chan Po-Chu plays Wong Tsui Ying a young woman (often times, in her martial arts films she plays a male) out for revenge. Both her parents commit suicide due to some counterfeit gold that her father is responsible for and that he received from Gold Fist. In her search for Gold Fist, she encounters a strange, scruffy wanderer, Fang Tien Hung (Tso Tat Wah). Seemingly mild mannered, he turns out to be adept as a martial arts swordsman and also possesses a few other hidden skills. The pair meet on the road and loosely pair up when Fang befriends a young man, Cheng Wen Chieh (Lam Kam-Tong?) and his mother. After his mother is slain, Fang promises to fulfill her dying wish and help find his father. Wen Chieh seems to develop a crush on Tsui Ying, but unbelieveable as it sounds, Connie and Tso Tat Wah’s characters develop their own below the surface quasi-romantic chemistry. Or maybe it’s just the jiang hu brotherhood.

The Four Tigers gang responsible for the mother’s death are holding Gold Fist as a hostage because he refuses to do any more counterfeiting work. The gang kidnaps Wen Chieh and imprison him in an attempt to change the father's mind. Gold Fist and the father are, no surprise to the audience, one and the same person. Father and son are reunited after a fierce and bloody sword fight in the Four Tigers’ lair. Fang goes on his way having completed his mission. Tsui Ying now attends to her own mission and tracks father and son down for the final showdown to obtain vengeance for her parents.

Fang Tien Hung has a back story told in flashback about why he, once the great swordsman know as The First Sword, gave up the sword. Later, he counsels Tsui Ying against the futility of revenge.

The film is laced with quite a few good extended action scenes and more violent that usual. There’s an arm lopped off and two men get speared by two halves of a broken staff. In addition, there’s an ‘eat the rice’ scene and the end fight with the underground tunneling certainly reminded me of the end of Tsui Hark’s Dragon Inn, except this time it’s a beach not a desert. Early in the film there is a Sam the Seed-like scene where Fang, sleeping outdoors on a beam has it cut out from under him, but his skills are such that he remains undisturbed asleep cross-legged.
Coincidently, Simon Yuen is listed on the Winson site on the credits but I couldn't spot him or recognize him.

Ko Lo-Chuen makes a brief appearance before meeting an early demise under Connie’s sword. Sek Kin, as one of the four tigers, doesn’t chew the scenery as much as he typically does is still quite effective. Lai Man briefly plays the mother before being slain, too.

That the vcd of the film is in color, widescreen and has English subs certainly added to my enjoyment. As far as I know, the video is only available as part of a four movie Connie Chan box set and not sold separately. The other films in the set are Eternal Love, Wedding Gown and Heaven Never Lets the Kind Hearted Down / Story About Three Families.

Reviewer Score: 8