The Jade Bow (1966)
Reviewed by: MrBooth on 2003-04-05
A villain steals a kung fu manual and kills the good swordsmen it belongs to. He masters the powers it offers and goes on to commit various evils. Twenty years later, a young swordsman heads off to take him to account. On the way he meets a couple of feisty young swordswomen, and his life gets more complicated.

This non-Shaw Brothers movie was roughly contemporary with King Hu's COME DRINK WITH ME, and has been cited as a similarly influential work. Of prime interest seems to be the fact that it was the first collaboration of Lau Kar Leung and Tong Gaai, who were picked up by Shaw Brothers as a result, and quickly became their top choreographers.

It must be said that the action in the movie is a bit sloppy though, and it doesn't have King Hu's knack for dramatic tension and innovative camera work to disguise the lack of any great skills from the performers. It's a reasonably respectable effort though, and the use of wires in a few places is interesting. None of the action is as good as that in TEMPLE OF THE RED LOTUS, though.

The movie is still not a bad effort though, with likeable characters and an interesting enough story. Of particular note is the especially sassy swordswoman played by Chen Sze-Sze. Her character and her performance both impressed me a lot.

Mei Ah must have been inspired to release the film by the success of the Celestial Shaw Brothers releases. The disc shows what a tremendous job Celestial are doing, because despite being anamorphic it looks absolutely terrible next to the Shaw Brothers discs. Colours are all strange, shadow detail is non-existent and compression artefacts are evident throughout (or maybe artefacts of digital noise reduction). It's also a good reminder that Celestial have done a really good effort with their subtitles, as Mei Ah give us there typical poor translation where 3 English words stand in for 30 Chinese words, and grammar and spelling are only loosely based on the English language.

Despite these shortcomings I did enjoy the movie though, mostly because of Chen Sze-Sze (if I'm assigning the right name to the right actress. It's worth picking up, though it should take a back seat to the Shaw Brothers discs.
Reviewer Score: 6

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