Swordsman and Enchantress [蕭十一郎] (1978)
Starring Ti Lung, Lau Wing, Ching Li, Candy Wen Xue-Er, Tang Ching, Lily Li Li-Li, Norman Tsui Siu-Keung, Shum Lo, Ku Kuan-Chung, Lee Hoi-Sang, Yu Hoi-Lun
Directed by Chor Yuen
Expectations: Pretty high.
Swordsman and Enchantress is Chor Yuen’s crack at Gu Long’s 1973 novel The Eleventh Son [蕭十一郎], originally written as a screenplay for the 1971 Hsu Tseng-Hung film Swordsman at Large. Both films and the novel share the same Chinese title, which is Ti Lung’s character name, Xiao Shiyi Lang, and literally translates to The Eleventh Son. According to translator Rebecca S. Tai’s introduction to the English version of the novel, it was common practice in Ancient China to name children based on their gender and order of birth. This was the first (and maybe only) Gu Long story written as a film first, and this genesis helps Swordsman and Enchantress to be one of the more easy-to-follow wuxias. My review of Swordsman at Large indicates it was “impenetrable” to me, so either it’s more confusing than Chor Yuen’s version, or I leveled up my wuxia-following skills considerably in the 10 years since. I didn’t even know who Gu Long was back then, so…
Swordsman and Enchantress hinges around the greatest weapon in the martial world, the Deer Cutting Knife, newly forged with nine kinds of steel by Xu Ruzi, King of Swords. The sword is able to cut through steel and its wielder will be revered as the leader of the martial world. Naturally, people want to get ahold of it, but Xu gifted it to Lian Chengbi of Brocade Villa (Lau Wing). The Four Lethal Leng Brothers guard the sword on its journey to Brocade Villa, but it never arrives as the skillful Little Lord (Candy Wen Xue-Er) bests the brothers and steals the weapon. She tells them her name is Xiao Shiyi Lang, though, who just so happens to be the only other person in the martial world who might be worthy to wield the Deer Cutting Knife. The problems for our main character only grow from here, and we haven’t even been introduced to him yet!