Follow TV Tropes


Film / Ambush

Go To
It's an Ambush!

Ambush is a 1971 wuxia swordplay action-drama directed by Ho Meng-hua, produced by Shaw Brothers starring Chao Hsiung (in his sole leading role, the studios are no doubt attempting to groom him into another major star, which unfortunately isn't as successful), Li Ching, and Dean Shek.

In the aftermath of an Ambush (hey, that's the title!) an Imperial convoy carrying a crate of priceless jewelry gets raided, with the convoy's Chief Escort, Fan Zhi Long, presumed dead. The bandits responsible for the raid however lose the jewels, and Constable Wen Chao Fan (Chao Hsiung) ends up becoming a suspect for working with the bandits. On the run from the law and becoming a wanted fugitive, Wen must recover the jewels in order to clear his name, but unfortunately he's not the only one seeking the treasure.

This trope list... it's an Ambush!

  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • In the opening battle scene, a bandit who fortunately escapes the ambush ends up losing his leg. The same bandit shows up much later in the film, with a wooden leg.
    • The film's lengthy final battle between Constable Wan and Chief Fan fighting in an abandoned mill, culminating in Chief Wan getting his leg messily chewed off after being caught by gears.
  • Arrow Catch: In the opening ambush for the treasure, Chief Fan catches an arrow fired at his direction, right before the bandits swarms over to attack.
  • Booby Trap: The final battle in an abandoned temple has a pitfall trap, installed by Tu Ba, that he intends to use to dispose all his enemies after getting the treasure.
  • Bound and Gagged: Shiou-shiou, the daughter of Chief Fan, gets captured alive by Tu Ba the bandit leader, and when she tries screaming (for the fifth time in the entire film...) Tu Ba responds by gagging her.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: The selected hiding place for Chief Fan, in order to hide the truth that he had faked his death. His supposed daughter Shiou-shiou is the first character to find that cave when she tried hiding from two bandit mercenaries, and ends up stumbling across her father, which she fails to recognize because of his demonic mask.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: During the tavern arrest scene, Constable Wan knocks out a few officers by kicking chairs into their faces, knocking them out cold. He's trying not to kill Imperial officers whom are just doing their jobs, after all.
  • Clear My Name: Constable Wan's motivation, after being framed as the traitor behind the opening ambush, and have to find out who is the one behind the incident.
  • Enemy Mine: Constable Wan and Swordsman Hong Lieh aren't on the same side, as the former is trying to retrieve the stolen treasure to prove his innocence, while the latter is a rogue warrior who wants the treasure for himself. But when facing a whole horde of bandits on a bridge, they end up fighting together side-by-side.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Tu Ba, the Bandit Lord, against Chief Fan Zi Long, the corrupt imperial escort chief who wanted to hoard the stolen treasure all for himself.
  • Faking the Dead: The supposedly loyal Imperial Head of Escort, Chief Fan Zi Long, appears to have died in the opening ambush. But he didn't, because he orchestrated the bandit raid, and faked his own demise in order to cover his tracks. He's forced to resurface when he failed to get his treasure, as a mysterious masked assassin.
  • Gold Fever: Well, it's not gold, but it's a chest filled with pearls and jewels. But it's still good enough for multiple factions in the martial world, including Bandit Lord Tu Ba and Chief Fan, the corrupt escort leader to kill each other over.
  • Gorn: The movie is quite gory. It's from the same director of The Lady Hermit and The Rescue (1971), after all.
  • Ground by Gears: The battle between Constable Wen and Chief Fan, in an abandoned mill, has the latter getting his right leg caught in and messily ripped off by the mill's gears. And somehow it's not enough to stop him - the fight actually continues to the exterior.
  • He Knows Too Much: Just as Constable Wan is interrogating the one-legged bandit, suddenly a dart flung by an unseen assailiant hits the bandit in the throat, killing him. The dart was flung by the supposedly dead Chief Fan, who had faked his death after orchestrating the opening ambush, and intends to ensure none of his minions can spill the beans about his betrayal.
  • Hidden Villain: Chief Fan being the traitor isn't made clear until later in the film.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bandit Lord Tu Ba intends to assassinate his co-conspirator, the traitor Chief Fan, by tricking the latter to fall into a spike pit trap he had prepared. Unfortunately, Chief Fan turns out to be a much better fighter, and simply makes him fall into his own trap.
  • I Have Your Wife: Bandit Lord Tu Ba, after revealing he had intentions to hog all the treasure for himself, reveals to Chief Fan, the corrupt escort leader he's working with, that he had abducted Chief Fan's daughter, Shiou-shiou. What follows is a subversion with The Reveal, that Shiou-shiou isn't Chief Fan's biological daughter at all, and the Chief never cared for her.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • More than one faceless extra suffers this fate by way of spears or projectiles.
    • Bandit Lord Tu Ba, trying to trick Chief Fan into falling into a spiked trap, ends up being pushed into his own trap instead, where he gets skewered by a dozen spikes.
    • In the final battle, Constable Wen managed to finish off Chief Fan by throwing his sword into the villain, skewering him on one of the blades of the windmill. The mill continues spinning, with the corpse pinned on it.
  • In a Single Bound: In classic Shaw Brothers wuxia fashion. Mostly displayed by Chief Fan, Constable Wen, and Hong Lieh. Especially the final duel in an abandoned windmill ( Constable Wen vs. Chief Fan) with both of them leaping between the gears and machines.
  • Interesting Situation Duel: The climatic final battle at the mill culminates in Constable Wen and Chief Fan duelling in a Sword Fight... while hanging on one of four blades of an old, rickety windmill.
  • Jump Scare: When Chief Fan, disguised as a ghost, suddenly pops up behind Shiou-shiou when she's hiding in his waterfall cave.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: Chief Fan and his demonic mask when he's disguised after faking his death.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Chiang Niang during the bedroom scenes. Well, she Sleeps Inthe Nude...
  • Ms. Fanservice: Chiang Niang, the mistress and personal concubine to Bandit Lord Tu Ba. She only had minutes of screentime, and spends it all naked, either showering in public under a waterfall, or in the nude on her bed. Her only role besides revealing the truth of the treasure hoard's location after being interrogated Constable Wan... while naked (this part can be fulfilled by literally any other character, by the way) is basically providing eye candy.
  • The Namesake: The titular Ambush occurs in the film's first five minutes, right before the opening titles, and kicks off much of the entire movie's plot; the treasure hoard being stolen, the allegedly loyal Imperial Security Chief Fan Zi Long getting killed, the bandits losing the stolen loot, the heroic Constable Wan becoming a fugitive, and the rogue swordsman Hong Lieh seeking the treasure for himself.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Constable Wan, during the tavern arrest, had to face off against dozens of Imperial officers ordered to arrest him, all of them whom are not affiliated with the villains, but are merely doing their jobs. As such, the Constable ends up defeating the officers by smacking them unconscious with the hilt of his sword or simply sending them crashing into tables in a non-fatal manner.
  • Oblivious Adoption: Shiou-shiou is completely in the blank that Chief Fan, the man who she believed to be her father, actually bought her from traffickers as a baby, and she is NOT his biological daughter after all.
  • One-Word Title
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: Cold-faced Swordsman Hong Lieh, a rogue swordfighter from the martial world, who also wants the treasure for himself, but isn't affiliated with Tu Ba the Bandit Lord or the traitor Chief Fan.
  • Screaming Woman: Shiou-shiou. She screams... a lot. At everything. Until she ends up being gagged.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: Chief Fan uses a broadsword with a jagged tip as his primary weapon. The final duel between Chief Fan and Constable Wen notably had the hero's sword getting locked in between the blade's "teeth", making the duel difficult to resolve.
  • Sword Fight: Several times; Constable Wen against Bandit Lord Tu Ba, Bandit Lord Tu Ba against the traitor Chief Fan, and finally the climatic duel with Constable Wen and Chief Fan after Chief Fan had killed Tu Ba. The last one lasts for maybe twelve minutes, going through the grounds of an abandoned temple, to the courtyard, and finally an abandoned windmill.
  • Take It to the Bridge: In one of their Enemy Mine moments, Constable Wan and Hong Lieh teams up and fights their way across a bridge full of enemies.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works:
    • How Constable Wen finish off Chief Fan, after an extremely lengthy sword battle.
    • Hong Lieh, the rogue swordsman, is killed in the same way, a sword flung In the Back, although he's not killed by Chief Wen.
  • Title Drop: Sort of, the "ambush" that kicks off the plot is discussed before the audience see it happens, right at the start.
  • Unpleasant Parent Reveal: Chief Fan, after revealing himself to be a traitor and killing Bandit Lord Tu Ba, spitefully tells Shiou-shiou - his daughter, who was still Bound and Gagged in the aftermath of her abduction - that he actually purchased her as a baby, and raised her to be an "object". He never loves her either, saying he will let her stay in the abandoned temple and maybe starve to death in three days.
  • Villainous Rescue: When Constable Wen is rescued from an Imperial prison by Hong Lieh. Wan isn't aware Hong is an enemy at that point however.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: More than once, from Constable Wen. Even when he's clothed, his shirt is open enough to bare his chest.
  • Waterfall Shower: Chan Niang's first scene, with her boobs exposed. And a lot of close-ups.
  • Wuxia