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Young swordsman Feng Xiwu (Max Mok) visits Moonlit Sky Palace out of
curiosity mainly, because according to legend, many a swordsmaster has
visited the Palace but none has left it alive. Near the Palace, he saves a
girl, Shuiling (Yung Jing-Jing), from a gang of rapist, and is then invited
by her mother Tianjiao (Yim Chau-wah), a Japanese princess, to Moonlit Sky
Palace ... where he is poisoned, mainly because Tianjiao bears a grudge
against his father. Shuiling however refuses to let her saviour die, so
she somehow gets him out of the palace and manages to suck the poison out
of his body. Her mother, who is really an evil spirit, has foreseen that
and has possessed her. But that means that now that the sun comes up, the
girl grows weak, and Feng Xiwu takes her from one master to the next to
cure her, until Master Xinying (Tony Liu) manages to get her mother's evil
spirit out of the girl, and he and his disciples fight Tianjiao and almost
manage to kill her, too ... when against all expectations, Master Xinying
saves her life and lets her escape - because 18 years ago, he was her
husband, but then all other masters from the martial arts world conspired
to kill her because she was Japanese, and he did nothing to stop them.
Tianjiao has since become a vengeful spirit, but Xinying knows the blame
is at least in part his.
Having been set free by Xinying, Tianjiao goes
on a mission - to erradicate the entire martial arts world. This gets
Xinying, Feng Xiwu and even her daughter Shuiling worried, so they turn to
the almost all powerful Master Purple Robe for help, who in turn calls on
the 7 Stars of the Galaxy, the Spirit of the Sword, Princess
Qingxia and even Buddha for support, because Tianjiao has since made
hell itself her headquarters and has revived all those who have been
killed with her 18 years ago to help her on her vengeful path. After a
finale full of magic, martial arts, light rays, exploding bodies and the
like, Xinying realizes the only way to defeat Tianjiao and help his
friends escape from hell is to give his own life, which he has promised
her long ago, and ultimately he lets her possess him then kills himself
and her both ...
This is Chu Yuan at his best: A completely
over-the-top martial arts tale that drifts off into fantasy territory ever
so often without becoming silly, set in beautiful and extremely colourful sets
and costumes, with an expert use of colours to create atmosphere, an expert use
of his obviously studiobound sets to create a world all of their own, many
a macabre detail - but above all else, lots of action. And even if the
martial arts are somewhat lame in execution not only from today's point of
view, they are enrichened with so many over-the-top ideas and breathtaking
elements that it's pure joy watching the whole film unfold.
though, this might not be Chu Yuan's most intelligent film - but while
watching, you simply can't help enjoying the madness going on onscreen.