Have Sword, Will Travel (1969)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2006-01-28
Summary: Very good Chang Cheh wuxia film...
Chang Cheh's classic wuxia film Have Sword, Will Travel centers on the transport of a cache of silver. Lord In (Ching Miao) has always been entrusted with this task, but in his waning years, his kung fu is not what it used to be. Realizing this, In hires a pair of trustworthy students from a famous martial arts schools. Siang (Ti Lung) and Piau-piau (Li Ching) are a brother and sister in-laws that are well versed in sword play and throwing knives. After a brazen attempt to assassinate him, Lord In comes into the knowledge that a local gang of thugs called the Flying Tigers are planning on stealing the shipment. To make matters worse they have a couple of nearly invincible fighters, and the road that they must travel goes right by a large tower they use as their home base. Siang decides to find Yi Lo (David Chiang), a homeless, formidable fighter he had encountered earlier, in hopes to recruit him to help their cause. Complications arise when Piau-piau begins to have feelings for Yi Lo, straining her relationship with Siang, who was already in love with her and was asking for her hand in marriage.

Have Sword, Will Travel is an excellent film that shows Chang Cheh near the top of his game in the wuxia genre. Both Ti Lung and David Chiang are fantastic as rival swordsmen working for the same cause but also vying for the same woman. It is obvious why Cheh used these two in so many of his movies, as their on-screen personas play so well off of each other. Tons of trademark Shaw Brothers bright red blood is used to highlight the many battle scenes, which delve into the stylistic side of choreography. In one of the more drawn out fights Yi Lo and one of the Flying Tigers, the mute Ghost Shadow (Wang Chung), jump in great, leaping bounds from tree-tops to hillsides all while executing crisp and slashing sword strikes. It is interesting to see a more modern variation of this in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. One of the more interesting elements of wuxia films is the ability of the most skilled fighters to have overcome the law of gravity, allowing them to fly short distances or battle in mid-air. This film has great examples of Cheh's desire to show this ability.
Reviewer Score: 7