It’s a pretty simple story – Shih Szu plays Chin Tsui-peng, a skilled fighter and aspiring swordswoman who is on a mission to find The Lady Hermit, otherwise named Shang Yu-ling, played by Cheng Pei Pei. Lady Hermit is in hiding as a maiden with a friend, when Tsui-Pen comes knockin’ – asking about the Lady Hermit. Despite knowing who she is, the man asked does not reveal the information and offers Tsui-peng somewhere to stay.
Tsui-peng meets the maiden, Yu-ling, and the two become friends. But Tsui-pen, ignoring advice from her new friend, sets out to find Lady Hermit as she wants to learn from her and defeat The Black Demon – all for the glory of it!
Before long Tsui-peng is pulled into a dangerous situation and faces a man posing as the Lady Hermit and rescued by real Lady Hermit in the process. Shortly after she puts 2 and 2 together and realizes that Lady Hermit is in fact Yu-ling.
The next day she hurries to speak to Yu-ling, but she has left. Tsui-peng tracks her down and becomes her pupil. She begins to train, but also trains a man on the side named Wu Chang Chun (played by Lieh Lo of Five Fingers of Death), whom she begins to have feelings for. Unbeknownst to her, Wu Chang Chun has got a thing for Yu-ling.
Confused? Bloody Love triangles!
Yu-ling reveals her horrible past with the Black Demon and how she is seeking to defeat him also, so the two women train and work together but tensions begin to erupt between them as the love triangle between them and Wu Chang Chun begins to make things complicated.
Simple and Well Done
This movie does one thing well – tells a story in a simple, easy to follow fashion!
The whole idea of two women training together, both after one man and still going after their enemies could have easily become complicated but this movie keeps it all nice and simple. After a while you start to forget that there’s even a villain at all, while these relationships are thrown around a little bit. But there are the odd reminders, such as Yu-lings old friend she lived with (masquerading as a maiden under) is killed by Black Demon’s men.
Despite the fact a lot seems to be going on, the story never seems too complicated yet gives us good insight into each character and what’s happening.
I think the relationship between the characters really sits this movie above the old ‘cheap storyline, lots of action style’ Kung Fu movies that were pumped out by the hundreds back in the 70’s – but only by a small amount. Ultimately it’s a good balance of story and action any lover of the classics can appreciate.
The Action and Martial Arts
It’s 1971, and the action is only as good as it’s time. However, a lot of the weakpoints you find in these older films isn’t as present in The Lady Hermit.
That annoying stop-go-stop-go rhythm of 70’s kung fu films is a lot smoother and fluid. The fight are a little chopped up though, as a cheap way of showing the results of a sword strike or stabbing, but it’s done incredibly well and sells perfectly.
The action consists moslty of sword fights and these are performed quite well. This movie definitely holds up as a classic of martial arts cinema in my opinion!