HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Green Knight, The
Beasts of No Nation
One of Our Aircraft is Missing
Picture Stories
Another Round
Tape, The
Limbo
Supernova
Man Who Sold His Skin, The
Sweetheart
No Man of God
Gaia
Oliver Sacks: His Own Life
Scenes with Beans
Sweat
Quiet Place Part II, A
Nobody
Prisoners of the Ghostland
Duel to the Death
Mandibles
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Yakuza Princess
Djinn, The
New Order
Triggered
Claw
Original Cast Album: Company
Martyrs Lane
Paper Tigers, The
Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, The
Hall
ParaPod: A Very British Ghost Hunt, The
Collini Case, The
Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard
Snake Girl and the Silver-Haired Witch, The
Superhost
Plan A
When I'm a Moth
Tigers Are Not Afraid
Misha and the Wolves
   
 
Newest Articles
On the Right Track: Best of British Transport Films Vol. 2
The Guns of Nutty Joan: Johnny Guitar on Blu-ray
Intercourse Between Two Worlds: Twin Peaks Fire Walk with Me/The Missing Pieces on Blu-ray
Enjoy the Silents: Early Universal Vol. 1 on Blu-ray
Masterful: The Servant on Blu-ray
70s Sitcom Dads: Bless This House and Father Dear Father on Blu-ray
Going Under: Deep Cover on Blu-ray
Child's Play: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box Vol. 3 on DVD
Poetry and Motion: Great Noises That Fill the Air on DVD
Too Much to Bear: Prophecy on Blu-ray
Truth Kills: Blow Out on Blu-ray
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
   
 
  Secret of the Dirk, The There will be blood
Year: 1970
Director: Hsu Cheng-hung
Stars: Ching Li, Chang Yi, Shu Pei-Pei, Tien Feng, Helen Ma Hoi-Lun, Wang Hsieh, Cliff Lok, Wong Ching-Ho, Chiu Hung, Fang Mian, Goo Man-Chung, Hao Li-Jen, Jen Man-Jing, Lam Jing
Genre: Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ming Chu (Ching Li) is dazzling friends with her acrobatic kung fu when along rides the town elder Madame Liu (Lam Jing), mortally wounded by the evil Black Tiger Gang. On her deathbed Madame Liu recounts how long ago, bandit Pai Tien Wang lay siege to their city prompting General Liu Tsing (Fang Mian) to nobly sacrifice himself so his subjects could escape safely, while second-in-command General Liu Hai Te (Wong Ching-Ho) was entrusted with the city’s fortune in jewels. Now years later, the townsfolk have seen nothing of their treasure or General Hai Te, though Ming Chu suspects his daughter Qing Qing (Shu Pei-Pei) has some clue.

Qing Qing, a sweet girl with no knowledge of her past, is accosted by bare-chested Black Tiger thugs, whose mysterious, bird-loving leader manipulates events from his shadowy, Bond villain lair. Riding to Qing Qing’s rescue comes dashing hero Zhong Ying Long (Chang Yi), a lethally skilled swordsman who wields four blades at once, with whom she is instantly smitten. However, Ming Chu pops up alongside her colour-coded sisters Xiao Lan (Helen Ma Hoi-Lun) and Xiao Ehr (Jen Man-Jing) and kid brother Hsiao Ying (Cliff Lok), to kidnap Qing Qing again! Furthermore, Zhong is a little disconcerted to unmask one of the Black Tiger group as Wan Tai Zhi (Chiu Hung), his fellow disciple at the Da Law Martial Arts School.

Though seldom heralded by English-speaking fans, Hong Kong critics rank Hsu Cheng-hung among the key figures in Mandarin cinema. Born in 1935, Hsu apprenticed at other studios before joining Shaw Brothers as a cinematographer, screenwriter and assistant director. Upon being promoted to director, he delivered the studio’s first significant martial arts epic Temple of the Red Lotus (1964) along with fan-favourites like King Cat (1967), The Silver Fox (1968) and The Thundering Sword (1967) which marked the screen debut of his frequent leading man, Chang Yi. The Secret of the Dirk was Hsu’s penultimate film after which he supervised the Chinese version of Zatoichi vs. the One-Armed Swordsman (1971), then migrated to Taiwan where he started his own film company.

Hsu crafts a compelling story with pleasing twists and turns, though things do take a while to grow clear being overly reliant on flashbacks to answer the myriad mysteries. In his hands the serial-like plot unfolds through noticeably subtle acting, instead of the broad theatrical gestures common to this genre, which anticipates the revisionist likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Ching Li makes a splendidly feisty young heroine and her banter-filled relationship with Chang Yi’s morally upright hero is nicely drawn. Li had been acting since age six when venerable Shaw filmmaker Chang Cheh noticed she had a rare beauty suitable for both classical and contemporary film roles. She was also a favourite of Chu Yuan, who cast her in over twenty of his films including the much beloved House of 72 Tenants (1972).

The action is consistently brisk and exciting, with the bloody finale proving the most suspenseful set-piece. Yet for such a seemingly light-hearted movie, this blithely massacres two-thirds of its cast before the painfully poignant fadeout.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 3310 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Jason Cook
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
   

 

Last Updated: