The Jade Hairpin Alliance (1980)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2006-07-06
Summary: Complicated but interesting none the less...
After being captured during an attempt to rob a Shaolin temple, Hsu Yuan-ping (Lau Wing) finds himself at the feet of an aged, exiled priest. Reluctantly, the priest imparts his fighting knowledge to Hsu just before passing away, ensuring that he can fight off some corrupt Shaolin monks that showed up to harrass the two. Hsu then gets involved in a search for the powerful kung fu Nanhai Book of Marvels, whose secret location is being guarded by Hsiao Cha-cha (Nau Nau), daughter of the former head of the powerful Nanhai martial arts school. Seven powerful martial arts masters have gathered in the school's vicinity, all hoping to snatch the book and learn its secrets before the others. However, their greed and lust for power leads to death and disaster.

The Jade Hairpin Alliance (a strange title considering a jade hairpin never makes an appearance or is even mentioned) is not a bad movie, but its complicated plot (made even more so by subtitles cut on both sides) and multitude of similar characters made it difficult to follow. The Jade Hairpin Alliance was based on a book by Wo Long-Sheng, a very prominent wuxia novelist, so I’m sure that the plot and characters lend themselves better to an extensive novel. The initial scene in the film with Hsu in the Shaolin temple seemed to have no connection to the rest of the story, other than give a reason why Hsu is so skilled at kung fu. However, I'm sure I was missing something, again due to the abbreviated subtitles. The fight scenes are above average, with the participants obviously skilled in martial arts, but they are clumsily edited, detracting a bit from their excitement. Lau Wing and Nau Nau are acceptable in the lead roles, but the most enjoyable characters are the masters that arrive in order to steal the book. Their constant scheming and conflicts bring a fair amount of humor and intrigue to the story. The ending to the movie is also quite a shock and was about as dire and dark as you'll see in any film. It should also be mentioned that the version I saw had just about every classic kung-fu sound effect used, which was especially enjoyable.

This review refers to the Videoasia Double Feature (along with Iron Ox) DVD version of the film
Reviewer Score: 7