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影子神鞭 (1971)
The Shadow Whip

Reviewed by: Gaijin84
Date: 03/11/2021
Summary: Slightly above average Cheng Pei Pei showcase

Cheng Pei Pei stars in this Shaw Brothers film that teems with hidden identities, spectacular scenery and interesting use of weapons not normally seen in martial arts movies. The legend of “Shadow Whip” is one of a caravan guard that went rogue and hijacked a load of jewels that he and his crew were supposed to be transporting. One of the original group, Chief Hong (Ku Feng) has been searching for the Shadow Whip for 15 years, hoping to catch and punish him. Joining the search is Wang (Yueh Hua), whose father was slaughtered during the fight for the jewels. They all converge in a small town and start to suspect a local innkeeper and his daughter (Cheng Pei Pei) who is more than competent with a whip. Once traps are set and the fights begin in earnest, true identities are revealed and the facts about the jewel heist 15 years before come to light.

As with most collaborations between Cheng Pei Pei and Yueh Hua, The Shadow Whip is an enjoyable, albeit short, kung fu film. The scenery might be the star of the film, with snowy fields and forests standing out in contrast to the costumes and blood. I read somewhere that it was filmed in Japan, which is entirely possible, but it also could have been the north of China. The whip fights are quite good, with some excellent innovation using the whips as tools to fling victims into other weapons or impale them on sharp, splintered refuse from clashes. The chemistry between Pei Pei and Hua is good, but not quite to the level that there appears to be any romantic possibilities between the characters. Excellent supporting roles from Ku Feng and Tien Feng round out the cast. Entertaining but not entirely thrilling would be how I’d describe the film. Worth a single watch.


Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 08/12/2010
Summary: Weakened by acute undercranking and plot holes

Shadow Whip features a semi-angry Cheng Pei Pei throughout the film. It also went overboard on the undercranking of fight sequences, which looked like fast forwarding in some scenes. There are a few head-scraching / laughable moments, such as when Cheng Pei Pei's character's uncle is in the middle of a major fight, she shouts some trivial news to him. One would think that's an unnecessary distraction that could have led to his demise.

Not one of the best swordplay movies of this era.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 05/23/2010
Summary: Let one hundred Macguffins bloom.

“Why, we are the 16 Bandits of Yunyun--didn’t Fang Chengtian mention us?” asks Go Ming, playing the leader of the gang. As it turns out that is just one of many questions that Fang Chengtian hasn’t addressed regarding his past a failure which will cause significant problems for Miss Yun/Yang/Fang. Since it is Cheng Pei-Pei who is discommoded a lot of blood will be spilled before this movie is over.

Much of what made Shaw Brothers wuxia films enjoyable for a couple of generations of fans is present here: excellent action choreography carried out by principals and extras who have worked with each other and with experienced action directors; super-sharp “Shaw-scope” print showing the wide-angle and close-up cinematography; dependable stars who can sell the evil nature of their characters (Ku Feng) or change sides as they learn the truth (Yueh Hua). The blood was bright scarlet and as thick as latex paint.

Bad guys show up early to bother Miss Yang and her employees and new ones keep showing up. First to arrive are the Serial Trio, three ruffians who expect people to get out of their way and who have the martial arts and swordplay skills to force them. They are working for Chief Hong who is distracted when Wang Jianxin shows up in town on the same mission as Hong. The 16 Bandits have the best costumes, head to toe black leather trimmed with white piping. Their cool outfits don’t help--come and go (mainly dead) in one scene.

The target for all this mayhem is Fang who is suspected of killing a politician that Chief Yang was guarding and stealing a hoard of priceless jewels fifteen years before. He has been hiding out as proprietor of a small inn on the edge of town, tucked away in snow clogged foothills, raising his niece Miss Yang who is strong, courageous and simply amazing with her whip--and pretty good with the short sword that she pulls from the whip’s handle.

It is all a mistake--Fang is righteous, Miss Yang, while deadly, is pure of heart, the Serial Trio realize the error of their ways but may also get killed. With bodies, parts of bodies and abandoned weapons everywhere--Chief Hong follows the accepted tactics of either a general commanding battalions or leaders of armed raiding parties, at least according to Hong Kong movies, and has his men fight until they are all dead. Both Fang and Yang seem to account for over one hundred bad guys each.

The main reason to see “The Shadow Whip” is Cheng Pei-Pei. She cuts quite a figure even swaddled as she is in a long coat and a floppy fur hat. Wherever the setting was supposed to be it must have been during an extended cold snap since none of the characters went so far as to loosen a scarf or unbutton a coat. Chief Hong removed his tall fur hat and it was more surprising than any of the sudden appearances of yet another group of evildoers for our heroes to slash and whip their way through.

The jewels stolen when Chief Yang was ambushed and murdered fifteen long years before the action takes place are a MacGuffin. Everybody wants them or the 300,000 taels they are worth but once the bad guys are exposed and the killing is done they aren't mentioned again which defines this plot device as well as any of the films of Alfred Hitchcock the director who invented the term (but not the device).

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: sharkeysbar
Date: 07/25/2004
Summary: crack that whip!

Zheng (or Cheng) Pei Pei, in a novel kungfu film, where whips are the preferred style. It is a short film (78 minutes) set far in the north of China. There is lots of wirework, making for a fun and rapidly changing film, the finale has a great cast and some good fighting, though I keep thinking that it was in some way meant to be longer, that it was just too short. Possibly the story couldn't sustain a longer film. It has left me with a feeling of "great, but what else happened".... but what the hell any film with Zheng Pei Pei (those eyes!!) is all class for me!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 01/19/2004
Summary: 4/5

**** THE SHADOW WHIP: Cheng Pei Pei and Yueh Hua together again, with more intrigue in an inn... i.e. Lo Wei does King Hu - not as well as King Hu did, but still better than most of his (Lo Wei's) films. Tons of well choreographed action, with lots of wires. Unfortunately whips are too unwieldly to make really great action scenes, but their use does distinguish the film, and they are used inventively. Cheng Pei Pei is of course cute as a button And Yueh Hua too, I guess

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: mpongpun
Date: 01/11/2004

Interesting flick where instead of the weapon being a sword, we see a whip being used as the “Master” weapon. A man named Feng Chang Tien (Tien Feng) aka Shadow Whip has been in hiding for over 15 years. Turns out everybody are after him. The 16 bandits are after the Shadow Whip for stealing some jewels that they wanted their mitts on. A former sworn brother named Hong De Peng (Ku Feng) wants to avenge the death of a good friend, Chief Yang (Lo Wei), who lost the jewels and life over the matter. An unknown swordsman by the name of Wang Jian Xin (Yueh Hua) wants to avenge the death of Chief Yang too as he was his Uncle. In the end, after the Shadow Whip, Wang and the Whip’s niece, Yun (Cheng Pei Pei), are whipping up on their enemies and of course, some questions are being dropped as to why the Shadow Whip went into hiding? Who is Yun and where is her parents? Who is the Wang guy? What are Chief Hong’s REAL intentions? After all the questions are posed, the answers come out. Decent flick that happens to be Cheng Pei Pei’s last flick with the Shaw Brothers before moving on to Golden Harvest.