The Enigmatic Case (1980)
Reviewed by: STSH on 2001-12-14
Summary: Eastern Western
Stunning scenery, escaped prisoners pursued on horseback over wide plains, missing gold, bandits. Man, you really know that these guys watched a lotta Westerns.

The story starts out as a loopy take on McKenna's Gold, mixes in any number of Japanese swordfighting epics, then a hint of mystery, which is presumably where the not-very-accurate English title comes from.

For the most part, the pace is pretty slow, which gives it all the more of a Japanese feel. And the cinematography is terrific, particularly the slow-motion swordfight in the cave near the end, lit by only one torchlight.

Cherie Chung, in her first role, has never looked better, and is a fine match for a quite-striking Damian Lau in his prime.

For all these good points, though, the film is not as involving as one would like, and at times the slow pace allows your attention to wander.

This is a film which appears to be trying hard to be an A-class Hollywood film with an Eastern flavour, and succeeds in some departments. The major flaw, I thought, was the ridiculous over-repetition of the theme. It's a stirring tune, so much so that I played the opening creds twice just to enjoy it. But I needn't have bothered, as it is repeated at least 20 times. Gets very irritating after a while.

All in all, a mixed bag worth a look.
Reviewer Score: 6