|The Deadly Breaking Sword (1979)|
|Starring:||Fu Sheng, Ti Lung, Ku Feng and Lily Li|
|The Plot: Our story begins with Tuan Changqing (Ti Lung) ordering a coffin for a duel that he is to have with a speerman name Liu Yinxu (Szu Shih). Tuan, who is a martial expert, takes his duels very seriously. Notorious for his habit of breaking a piece of his sword inside of his victims within each duel, he is one of the most feared swordsmen across the land. He soon defeats the spearman, but Liu runs away before the fight can be finished. Xian Dao (Fu Sheng) is a gambling addict who is more than a little down on his luck. When he is tricked by the young heiress of a gambling den, he believes that he owes a large amount of money. This leads him to becoming a indentured servant, but he doesn’t realize that the entire reason for this servitude is that the young heiress fancies the young lad. Xian Dao eventually meets Tuan Changqing outside of a teahouse, where the young gambler is caught admiring the fancy ruby that adorns Tuan’s horse. Tuan at first assumes that the young man is a thief, and thus a bit of antagonism is felt between them. When the brothel that neighbors Xian Dao’s new home at the gambling den acquires a very famous worker, it seems that she is the toast of the town. However, this new worker has some form of revenge on her mind, but who are the characters that she wants revenge upon? And what about Brother Liu Yinxu, who escaped Tuan Changqing’s wrath in our introduction? How long before he is finally able to begin practicing again and take his own revenge against Tuan Changqing?|
The film is certainly one that doesn’t pander to its audience. Despite being constricted by genre aesthetics, the film does a good job of zigging whenever one expects it to zag. For instance, Ti Lung, who is almost always cast in the role of the never-fledgling good guy, is slightly ambiguous in his role. Although it is hard to imagine him as anything other than the good guy, this is a role that really pushes the boundaries between simple bravado and pure conceit. This character, at some point, really starts to resemble something darker than a general Kung Fu hero, but this is a movie with few shades of white or black. Despite being a chauvinist, and a all around narcissist, Ti Lung somehow still manages to come across as fairly charismatic. He is the sort of man’s “man” that we like to see in our martial arts film, quiet and self-confident, but unfortunately whenever he opens his mouth he proves to be such a totally unlikable character. However, this isn’t necessarily a negative attribute in my opinion. Anything that differs from the norm in a conventional Kung Fu movie generally proves to be valuable.