鐵掌旋風腿
Lady Whirlwind (1972)


Reviewed by: cal42
Date: 02/28/2010

In 1972, the Golden Harvest studio was producing an abundance of cheap kung fu quickies, and LADY WHIRLWIND is a prime example of their typical output from the era. Starring Angela Mao as an avenging spirit whose sister was wronged by the apparent carelessness of Ling Shih-Hao (Chang Yi) towards her sister. However, Ling himself is after revenge on a gang of villains, and the two find themselves fighting on the same side despite past grudges.

LADY WHIRLWIND is undeniably cheap, but appears not to have been filmed in Hong Kong due to the obviously cold weather on the set. It features a young Sammo Hung as a mid-level henchman with rather humorous muttonchop sideburns. He directed the action scenes, and although the choreography is rather uninspired and basic, it is clear to see where he was heading. The fight scenes are ambitious but don’t really have the ‘bang’ to excite the viewer, despite Mao’s evident enthusiasm and intensity. Like the rest of the production, it appears that the fight scenes were shot in something of a hurry.

Another problem, for me at least, is that there was not nearly enough ambient noise in the sound mix. I’ve no idea if this was present in the original print or is a product of the Fortune Star release, but the absence of almost all background noise is a real distraction.

However, LADY WHIRLWIND is not a complete write-off. In fact, I thought it was quite enjoyable. Don’t ask me why Chang Yi’s character (does anyone else think he looks remarkably like a young Wong In-Sik?) is being hunted by the villains of the piece, but there is some definite tension when Mao is added to the mix. Maybe it was the bottle of wine I drank as I watched this, but the film got better and better as it went on. And it’s a testament to the lasting appeal of Angela Mao (who, let’s face it, didn’t have that much of a stellar career, despite her potential) that this film has even seen the light of day in the digital age.

Creaky as it is, LADY WHIRLWIND is nevertheless fun to watch (and doubly so when under the influence), and has a couple of rather neat touches to it. If you’re a fan of Mao, it’s likely you’ve already seen it, and if you’re not there are so many better films to recommend. But if you catch it in the right mood, you might find yourself enjoying it.

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 10/17/2008

The Huang Feng/Angela Mao films of this era all seem fairly interchangable, and this one is probably on a par with the others... which is to say, not that great to be honest. It all looks very dated now, and the fighting is often visibly fake, but occasionally interesting. Watchable.

Reviewer Score: 5

Reviewed by: bkasten
Date: 04/11/2005

First, let me point out for this review, apart from reading other reviews and capsule summaries, the plot is not completely clear as I did not listen to the audio. I obtained a poor English-dub VHS copy; and while it's been many years since I have listened to any English dub film (of any type), this is worse than anything I have ever heard or ever imaginged in my worse dreams. It is bad even for a old "Kung Fu" movie dub. The dubbing is singularly ghastly--almost as though it was a joke for those doing the dubbing...but (un)fortunately, it was not amusing.

Even watching without sound, several things became immediately clear. First, I cannot imagine the budget for this film was larger than the cost of the celluliod. Although, oddly enough, it appears to have been filmed somewhere in the north where it was very cold (Korea?).

Second, remember this is 1972, and on-screen fighting (without weapons at least) was still far from being refined to the point it would be just a few years later by Lau Kar-Leung, Yuen Wo Ping, Jackie and Sammo, and to a lesser extent, others. But one can already see the Sammo-choreographed touches here, and the fighting is nonetheless suprisingly good for the day. Although given the limited budget, one can see a lot of this was done with minimal takes, as choreography mistakes, even by Sammo, are blatantly obvious.

The dramatic acting in this film is surprisingly good as well. Angela, Sammo, Chang Yi as well as several supporting cast performances all stand out without being completely over the top. A nice job. The Huang Feng direction may have helped here.

Without a doubt, though, the most obvious, unusual, as well as refreshing, aspect of this movie is Angela: she is depicted as 100% invincible. Nobody as much as lays a glove on her...and yet she mops the floor with entire roomfuls of bad guys...several times. Her displayed martial arts ability is certainly good, and although she is stunt-doubled in a few short summersault and jumping scenes, the one problem is her power delievery does not appear to match the effect on her opponent. And in that respect she is not completely convincing: certainly nowhere near as convincing as she would be in some of her other movies (especially later ones) where her kicking combinations and reversals are wickedly fast. Still, however, given the lack of budget and lack of takes, Angela is just as impressive as pretty much anyone (ever).

In this respect--without digressing into a lengthy social commentary--this movie may be among those that set a precedent in that the female lead is a physically and emotionally invincible action star--essentially playing the mythological male-hero role, and performing essentially all of her own stunts. How many movies or actors can fit that description? Outside of HK cinema? Nearly zero.

Reviewer Score: 4