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神傘奇俠 (1970)
Swordsman with an Umbrella

Reviewed by: mrblue
Date: 04/16/2008

With a title like Swordsman with an Umbrella -- yes, that's the actual title, not some fake one dreamed up by a nebulous gray market company -- you know you're either in for a cheestastic good time or a dreadfully awful low-budget excuse for a kung fu movie. Unfortunately, from just about the first scratched and faded frame, you'll know this is headed straight into the latter category.

The plot here's the standard revenge stuff found in several hundred other films, with Iron Umbrella going after a group of thugs who severely injured his sifu and killed his parents. Along the way, he picks up a plucky female sidekick, fights a couple of times, and walks for a really long time until he meets up with the nasty villain. Will Iron Umbrella get revenge? Should we even care after being bored to tears by seemingly endless shots of him walking through the countryside?

This reviewer certainly didn't. Granted, I am not the biggest fan of "old-school" kung fu movies, but I would be flabbergasted if anyone actually admitted to liking this movie. There aren't even any decent, much less, good fights.

None of the actors look to be particularly skilled in martial arts, and even the stuntmen are second-grade. During a mass fights, several of them can be seen moving on the gorund even though they're supposed to be dead. The horrible camerawork and editing don't help matters any, as things are either too stagnant or not focused at all.

The finale does try to liven things up, with things like blood (via noticeably placed squib packets), special effects (really awful stop-motion stuff), and strange choreography that I think might be the action director's attempt to create a "bullet time"-eqsue effect. Or maybe he just loaded the wrong film stock in the camera.

At any rate, even if you're armed with some adult beverages and are looking for a movie to mock MST3K-style, one should tread into Swordsman with an Umbrella lightly. The depths of cinematic inepitude don't get much deeper than this.

[review from www.hkfilm.net]

Reviewer Score: 2

Reviewed by: ewaffle
Date: 06/10/2007

The only exceptional or even interesting aspect of “Swordsman with an Umbrella” is the way it ends—or, to be more precise, the way it doesn’t end. What one would assume to be the end of the movie happens after Iron Umbrella (IE hereafter) has killed all of his enemies including the maniac who killed his parents and the followers of some evil religion who crippled his teacher. There is a very long shot of him walking down a long flight of steps with the bodies of the bad guys piled around him—generally this would signal that it was time to turn on the lights and get ready for the next show. In this case, though, there is a coda that follows in which a woman who has been trying to convince IE to stop killing people (and who saved him from certain death a couple of times) shows up once again. This time she is successful in getting him to renounce violence, a task made easier because he has crossed off all the names from his “remember to kill” list. The last shot is of the two of them in a clinch on top of a mountain—not the kind of ending that one has come to expect in martial arts movies of the period.

Otherwise it is plain vanilla. While searching for men who killed his family and crippled his teacher IE meets various bad guys who he kills. His weapon is an umbrella with an edged point at the end but it is almost superfluous since he is able to kill people with the flick of a finger. In his first confrontation IE stops a sword thrust with two fingers then strikes the end of the sword with his index finger. Pieces of the sword fly off and imbed themselves in the foreheads of surrounding thugs. Much later he grabs arrows out of the air and throws them back at the archers, burying them in the archers' chests.

He is set up by an evil religious sect who has their enemies killed and leaves forged notes from IE taking responsibility for the slaughter. He doesn’t do much to change the perception that he is a cold hearted killer since he travels through the area killing men based solely on a scroll given to him by his teacher. His teacher, after giving IE the scroll, commits suicide by striking himself in the forehead with his palm, a remarkable way to end it all.

IE can fly by twirling his umbrella which acts like the rotor of a helicopter and propels him through the air. It is a really dumb looking image, something that one might see in a 1950s television science fiction show with a man flying with a jetpack.

The action choreography was labored and dull with much of it shot from very long range. This particular release was doubly annoying because it was both dubbed and subtitled. The subtitles didn’t match the words spoken by the voice actors and were cropped off to make a square image.

“Swordsman with an Umbrella” might be a better movie than the version I saw which had large chunks chopped out, probably for broadcast purposes but this one from Brentwood Home Video doesn’t have much to recommend it.