Legend of the Bat [蝙蝠傳奇] (1978)
Starring Ti Lung, Ling Yun, Derek Yee, Yueh Hua, Ching Li, Wong Chung, Candice Yu On-On, Yuen Wah, Norman Chu Siu-Keung, Ku Kuan-Chung, Lau Wing, Wang Lai, Lau Wai-Ling, Ching Miao, Ai Fei, Yang Chi-Ching, Yuen Bun, Chan Sze-Kai, Chong Lee, Shum Lo, Alan Chui Chung-San, Huang Pei-Chih, Chan Shen, Keung Hon, Tang Tak-Cheung
Directed by Chor Yuen
Expectations: High. Clans of Intrigue was awesome.
Legend of the Bat was Chor Yuen’s second adaptation from Gu Long’s Chu Liu-Xiang series, this time tackling the fourth novel (and first of the five-novel New Legend of Chu Liu-Xiang cycle): Legend of the Bat [蝙蝠傳奇] (1971). Clans of Intrigue is one of my favorite Chor Yuen films — a perfect mix of wuxia and mystery — so I eagerly awaited Chu’s new adventure of investigation in the martial world. But Legend of the Bat is a different film entirely from its predecessor, so I couldn’t help but feel let down. Regardless, Legend of the Bat has some good thrills, and I hope they play better when I know what I’m in for. I like to be challenged as a viewer, but that means sometimes you just have to take the bitter hit of not really getting it during the first go-round.
We open on Bat Island in autumn, during a Jiawu Year in the sexagenary calendar, where an auction has begun. Mr. Bat, the head of Bat Island, conducts the yearly auctions completely in the dark so no one can know each other’s true identities. The first order of business is a request for the death of our intrepid hero Chu Liu-Xiang! Say it ain’t so! From there we reconnect with Chu (Ti Lung) and his martial brother Yi Tien-Hung (Ling Yun), who appear to be just leaving the final scenes of Clans of Intrigue. They stop at the Simin Villa, only to find it deserted, with a banquet laid out and undisturbed. Further inside, they discover the bodies of many formidable members of the martial world; the only survivor is afflicted with amnesia and a burning compulsion to visit Bat Island.