Indonesian-born Shaw Brothers actor Lo Lieh is again the leading man in this late 60s revenge wuxia outing directed by Chang Cheh. He plays a wondering swordsman who gets caught up between two rival clans but saves the day in the end.
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The Green Dragon clan has a son who’s also a rapist and a murderer. At the start of the movie, he comes across a couple, he takes a shine to the woman, thereby kills the man and proceeds to rape the poor woman before killing her. Howeve,r he is caught in the act and killed by Yu Ying, daughter of the Yu family. Upon learning the bad news, the leader of the Green Dragon clan proclaims war on them. However, their leader, though injured, escapes with his young son and daughter Yu Ying.
Needless to say, the pursuit is on, lead by Jian Lei, the boss of the Green Dragon, who’s hell-bent on killing them all. Enter our hero, mysterious swordsman Yang Qing, a righteous man who decides to help the Yu family, under a condition: their beautiful daughter Yu Ying must spend one night with him.
“The Flying Dagger” is blessed with an incredible black and white opening sequence in which the rape takes place; there’s hardly any nudity but the fight here is quite bloody. Interestingly, this is followed by a song which is like an introduction to what’s to come for the rest of the film. The black and white cinematography has a Japanese samurai movie look to it which sets it apart from most Shaw Brothers productions of the time.
Also from this sequence, we are introduced to Yu Ying (Cheng Pei Pei) and one might think that this could lead to a strong female-driven wuxia film; Yu Ying takes a big step back when Lo Lieh appears soon after and takes over the rest of the film. However, Cheng Pei Pei puts in a strong performance as usual and proves to be a great match for Lo Lieh. The chemistry between them is strong and their romance part adds a bit of intrigue and human touch.
Of course, the main event here is Yang Qing, the lone swordsman, plays wonderfully here by leading man Lo Lieh. He’s good with the sword and amazing at throwing daggers and he always carries four concealed daggers with him. The fights between him and the Green Dragon Clan are short but very bloody; this is a Chang Cheh movie after all. Again the action choreography is from the team of Lau Kar Leung and Tang Chia, however wires are not used much at all so we don’t see people ‘flying’ or jumping to great heights.
However, there is one fight sequence between Yang Qing and two members of the Green Dragon Clan that stands out. After being wounded, Yang Qing is left for dead and unarmed; one member gets closer to check on him, he steals his sword and stabs him. As the second member advances from behind, Yang bends backward and runs the sword through him, it happens very fast and it’s definitely worth repeated viewings.
The villain here is Jian Lei, the boss of the Green Dragon clan. He’s deviously played by Yang Chih Ching who was the ‘Long Armed Devil’ villain in “The One Armed Swordsman“. He specializes in throwing daggers with deadly precision and not many victims can escape his wrath. Show regular Wu Ma, who plays one of his four bodyguards, has such a great charisma that one can hardly take one’s eye off him.
“The Flying Dagger” is fun, entertaining and emotional. Credits must go to the performances of Lo Lieh and Cheng Pei Pei,while the supporting actors are just as colourful and memorable.