The Silver Spear (1979)
Reviewed by: Gaijin84 on 2009-05-12
Summary: Rough edit of what could be a superior film...
Wuxia fantasy fare, The Silver Spear looks to be a rough edit of a much longer and more intricate film from director and actor Roc Tien. The film starts with four legendary martial arts masters, Green Lotus, Red Leaf, Silver Spear and Fast Steed meeting on a snowy mountaintop. They are there to take place in a tournament that will determine which of them will take the hand of the daughter of Madam Green Plum, mistress of the legendary Jade Palace. Before the judges can arrive though, Green Lotus and Red Leaf are poisoned and fall into the grave that Silver Spear had dug for himself, citing his love for a previous woman in his life. Eventually Silver Spear is seemingly killed as well, leaving Fast Steed (Roc Tien) to take the blame and fight to escape. Silver Spear is revived and sets the tournament officials off to find Fast Steed and bring him to justice. Steed follows the one clue he has, an opera singer named Sharon Chow who Silver Spear was in love with, and eventually tracks her down. Once again though Spear has a trap set, killing Sharon and poisoning himself to make it look like Fast Steed is the culprit. Narrowly escaping again, Fast Steed looks to Mistress Yu Liu (Chin Meng) and her followers to solve the mystery behind Silver Spear's actions. It turns out Spear and others are working for No 13, a vampire who has clashed with Madam Green Plum in the past and is looking for revenge. Spear's plot involved an attempt to kidnap Plum's daughter and hold her ransom in exchange for entrance to the Jade Palace. Fast Steed must thwart the plot and defeat the vampire in order to save the Jade Palace from certain destruction.

If the plot sounds complicated, you should try watching the film. I must have spent 20 minutes replaying certain scenes to find out who was who and what they were attempting to do. Seemingly important characters appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly with no explanation. Add to this the atrocious dubbing on the Crash Cinema dvd and you have a very frustrating movie on your hands. Unfortunately the VHS to DVD transfer does not help matters, as night scenes are basically a black screen with people talking or swords clashing. The martial arts that you can see are quite good though. Tien is obviously a skilled straight sword practitioner, as he wields the weapon in a majority of his films. The swordplay scenes are well done and exciting, with the feeling of a wuxia character abilities captured well. The set pieces are very well done and evoke, as mentioned in another review, a sense of King Hu's work in Touch of Zen. I would be very interested in seeing an unedited version of this film, which seems like it could be twice as long. The characters and plot are interesting enough to warrant a much more in-depth epic. Just as interesting would be to find out what wuxia novel the story is from, as it seems to be completely derived from a fantasy novel, much like the Crane-Iron Pentology from which Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was taken. More investigation is needed, but a recommendation can be given to this initial piece of the puzzle.

Follow up: The story is from the wuxia novel called "Righteous Blood Cleansing Silver Spear," about half of which can be found online via fan translations.

6.5/10
Reviewer Score: 6