邊城浪子
A Warrior's Tragedy (1993)


Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 02/26/2008
Summary: Delirious & visually impressive wuxia piece

I've seen at least 4 different versions of this, ranging anywhere from 90 minutes to 150! I've *still* not seen one that contains everything though - even the double laserdisc release is missing some footage that's in other versions.

The movie is a fairly lavish wuxia piece filmed in some great desert locations, featuring Ti Lung and director Frankie Chan as swordsmen who are invited to "Man Ma Hall" by an elderly swordsman with evil looking eyebrows. Much intrigue follows as we learn the historys of the swordsmen, and of a clash between Man Ma Hall and Super Sword Hall many years ago that left many dead. Anita Yuen turns up half-way through as Frankie's bell-laden wife.

Frankie Chan handles this colourful tale well, bouncing back and forth between comedic moments, surreal moments and some quite dramatic moments at will. The long running time gives Frankie plenty of time to develop the plot and the characters, and to space out the revelation of plot points to keep intrigue high. The film seems to be shot in Northern China, and makes good use of some beautiful locations. There's also lots of opportunities for action, with some cool and inventive wirework - though it looks a little amateurish in places - and some great cinematography. The action scenes are in a fairly Ching Siu-Tung style, with some great set pieces.

There's much to be enjoyed in this film, which is probably Frankie Chan's most accomplished directorial work. Unfortunately his vanity does show up a bit again, with his character being just a little too charming, smart, cool and talented for us not to feel that Frankie is attention-seeking. Ti Lung is fantastic in a very stoic role, but Anita Yuen steals most of her scenes with a manically over-the-top performance (perhaps why she was edited out of all the edits I've seen to some degree - taking too much of Frankie's spotlight?).

It's a shame it's not currently possible to see the whole, unedited film in any commercially format. I'd estimate that there's about 160 minutes of footage in total, which does all flow together when it's edited properly. It'd be great if Hong Kong Legends dug out the original film, restored and remastered and released it in a premium edition as part of a "Frankie Chan Collection". It's also extremely unlikely that will happen :p

Oh well, it's nice to have these rareties for collectors to long for and discuss - the world would be dull if we had instant access to everything we wanted!

Reviewer Score: 8

Reviewed by: Inner Strength
Date: 02/16/2003
Summary: Boring

This is a bit bias. I hate these films, there are far too many of these, and they're all exactly the same as each other. With the exception of Ashes of Time - an excellent film.

1.5/5


Reviewed by: danton
Date: 12/27/2002

This Frankie Chan wuxia fantasy was filmed as a two-part movie with a total running time of 173 mins, but was then released in theatres severely edited down to approx. 110 mins. The Winson DVD seems to be the same version as the theatrical release.

To add to the confusion, Widesight also released an alternative cut of the film with an even shorter running time (90 mins) under the title "The invincible power of kindness".

Other than on Laserdisc, I don't think the full length uncut movie was ever released, which is a shame because the film has a few good things going. It's the typical revenge-driven wuxia plot centered around two warriors: Yip Hoi (Frankie Chan) is a light-hearted and kind kung fu master who is driven by empathy and mercy, whereas Wu (the legendary Ti Lung) is a merciless killing machine eaten up by thirst for revenge. They both arrive at an isolated village somewhere in mainland China to avenge a murder that took place 25 years earlier. Soon, everybody is engaged in one wirefu fight after another, limbs are separated, bodies fly through the air and nobody is quite who they seem.

The movie focuses on contrasting the two conflicting viewpoints symbolized by the two main characters, and even offers up some ironic twists on the dichotomy of kindness vs revenge by throwing in some unexpected plot twists and revelations about who these people really are towards the end. Much of this is filmed in the stark beauty of Northern China, with blood-stained snow as a recurring leitmotif. The storyline is somewhat reminiscent of a Spaghetti Western, except the battles are obviously not carried out with six-shooters but with the typical assortment of Eastern blades, daggers and the more excentric emblems of supernatural kung fu. The action choreography is competent, but never quite reaches the absurd over the top heights of some of Ching Siu Tung's and Yuen Woo Ping's best period fantasies from the same period.

Unfortunately, none of the above really becomes that clear when watching either one of the two available DVDs in isolation. They both are so severely cut that much of the storyline becomes butchered, leaving the viewer somewhat befuddled. Here are the main differences between the two versions:

TIPOK focuses more on the first third of the movie, depicting the backstory as well as Yip Hoi's childhood, and then going into more character development details when the two leads arrive in the village. The motivations of the protagonists are much clearer in this version. However, this is achieved at the expense of the plot. In particular, the last third of the movie is completely missing and the movie ends kind of abruptly, leaving the viewer somewhat confused. And in terms of the villains, the focus here is shifted through selective edits from the bearded head of Horse Hall to the female ex-lover of Pak, further adding to the narrative butchery.

AWT, on the other hand, cuts out all of the back story and much of the story elements not essential to the main plot. If you haven't seen TIPOK, I would imagine that this would create some degree of befuddlement, as characters like Anita Yuen suddenly are part of the film without ever having been introduced. On the plus side, the last third of the movie seems almost intact, so you do get to see the actual ending.

Taken together, the two films actually start to make sense. Watched in isolation, they don't. So I would only recommend you pick up AWT if you've already seen TIPOK and vice versa.


Reviewed by: RLM
Date: 05/18/2002
Summary: Has what you want and hope to get in a film...

This period fantasy/kungfu/swordsplay epic is visually scrumptious from beginning to end. I saw the 2 VHS English dubbed version.
The major cast members put in jawbreaking and humorus performances and we finally do care who they are, why they are there and what will happen to them.
The chemistry between actors and actresses is a joy to watch.
The martial arts fighting is superb with wires not getting in the way of performance or esthetics.
It does have the very traditional revenge element so often found in Chinese films, but luckily the plot is sufficiently developed in other places to make it much more than that.
Makes a person believe that a crippled swordsman can defeat an army!
Highly recommended -
10/10



Reviewed by: johnlewis
Date: 07/22/2001
Summary: Best martial arts soap opera/action film

This is a wonderfully made action/adventure/martial arts soap opera of somewhat epic proportions; but most of the action takes in or around a small town in the northern China desert.
The DVD shows good picture quality, and the Mandarin dubbing seems to always match perfectly, so I believe this to be a Mandarin language film (I might be mistaken). The Thunder Media version DVD is the lesser cut version, running at 127 minutes. I'm pretty sure this is still a shortened version of the two part movie series, but this version is so much easier to understand and follow than the radically shortened version called The Invincible Power of Kindness (which for no reason at all cuts off the entire ending and story resolution!).
This is one of those really good early 1990s swordplay adventure yarns about a misguided and misunderstood wandering swordsman, and another more well-adjusted peace-loving swordsman. They seem to have a link from thier past, but it takes the whole movie for this to unwind. It has all the usual exploding and throwing trees, invisible cloaks, and wire-work like all the best B-movies have from Hong Kong. This is really great!


Reviewed by: leh
Date: 12/09/1999

Unusual looking martial arts fantasy, kind of a MongolianDragon Inn. A group of heroes gather in a small village, to settle the score for a tragedy that took place 20 years before. Ti Lung is the troubled warrior out for revenge. Some wirework looks a bit dated, but all in all this is an engaging movie with many inventing and exciting action scenes. The vague spaghetti-western feel, with the lonesome hero out for revenge, is a neat touch.


Reviewed by: spinali
Date: 12/08/1999
Summary: NULL

On China's freezing northern frontier, Fung Hu Suet is the heavy-hearted, limping swordsman who meets up with a flashy kung fu virtuoso as shadowy forces pit the most powerful martial artists against one another. The plot is a hall of mirrors in which someone reading ambiguous subtitles might very well end up seeing his own confused reflection in the theater bathroom as he tries to make sense of it all. The numerous imaginative fight scenes are especially welcome, as are the unexpected dashes of humor.

(3/4)



[Reviewed by Steve Spinali]

Reviewer Score: 7