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Film / Have Sword, Will Travel

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Have Kickass Martial Arts Skills, Will Take Tons and Tons of Names in Massive Action Scenes

Have Sword, Will Travel is a 1969 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Movie directed by Chang Cheh, starring Chang's frequent collaborators and star players, Ti Lung and David Chiang, with the Shaw Brothers' "Deadly Doll", Li Ching, in a key role as well.

Lung and Chiang, having appeared the same movies like Return of the One-Armed Swordsman and Vengeance! (1970), but separately without each other onscreen, finally shows up together in this movie, the first of twenty-odd Shaw Brothers films with Lung and Chiang appearing - and kicking ass - side-by-side.

Xiang-ding (Ti Lung) and Yun Piao-piao (Li Ching) are sword-fighters, martial artists, mercenaries and a pair of lovers engaged to be married, but a week before they can tie the knot, they're given one last assignment: to escort a valuable cargo of gold through hostile territory in the Northern Fields, a territory owned by the powerful Flying Tigers gang of marauders. To make things complicated, the arrival of a new elite swordsman, Lu-yi (Chiang), serves as a potential romantic rival for Xiang-ding.


Have Sword, Will Tropers:

  • Action Girl: Yun Piao-piao, the girlfriend and fiancee of Xiang-ding, who leads the cavaliers into battle along his side and is capable of taking names as well. Unfortunately she's closer to a Faux Action Girl; getting injured right before the final confrontation, she's left out of the final assault on Chao Hong's pagoda.
  • Arrow Catch: Dart Catch. During the restaurant scene, Xiang-ding decides to test Lu-yi by throwing a dart at him. Lu-yi catches said dart with his chopsticks.
  • Barbarian Longhair: Chao Hong's entire army of marauders have long, flowing hair. ALL of them.
  • Battle Amongst the Flames: Halfway through the film's climatic battle in a paddy field, random flaming arrows causes the entire field to go alight, culminating in a huge battle sequence where both extras and named characters have to fight each other amidst the flames.
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  • Battle Couple: Xiang-ding and Piao-piao against multiple faceless mooks.
  • Big Bad: Chao Hong, the feared marauder chief and leader of the Flying Tiger clan, who covets the precious cargo of gold the bodyguards are transporting.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: One that takes up most of the entire third act, a massive battel between the cavalier army led by Xiang-ding, Lu-yi and Piao-piao, against Chao Hong's marauder legion.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Lu-yi ultimately decides Piao-piao is better off with Xiang-ding, her fiancee.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Lu-yi in the final scene; after getting wounded by several archers, he managed to cut down all of them and keep going to the top of the pagoda to fight Chao Hong, one-on-one. And win.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: For the Power Trio, Piao-piao suffers an injury at the end of the battle in the fields, necessiting her to stay out as Xiang-ding and Lu-yi enters the pagoda themselves. And merely one floor away from the pagoda's top, where Chao Hong awaits, Xiang-ding gets put out of action thanks to an ambush from Chao Hong's mooks, leaving Lu-yi to battle Chao Hong alone.
  • Dying Alone: Lu-yi.
  • Elite Mooks: While the standard mooks are clad in brown outfits, Chao Hong's best fighters on the other hand wears unique clothing, and puts up a far better fight than the faceless mooks.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany: From Xiang-ding, the moment Piao-piao - his fiancee - starts having feelings for Lu-yi, the new swordsman and mercenary, being visibly fawning over Lu-yi right in front of him.
  • Horseback Heroism: The Power Trio of Lu-yi, Xiang-ding and Piao-piao both travels on horses throughout the movie, and especially during the battle in the fields.
  • Human Pincushion: Lu-yi, on the second level from the pagoda's tip, ends up getting assailed by several archers. He kills all of them anyways, and then marches to the top to confront Chao Hong.
  • In a Single Bound: Both Lu-yi and Xiang-ding can cover great distances and heights in the battle scenes, a skill that comes in very handy when they had to traverse their way upwards to the top of Chao Hong's pagoda.
  • It's All Upstairs from Here: For the final action scene, Xiang-ding and Lu-yi had to traverse Chao Hong's Pagoda lair - just the two of them - going upwards, one level after another, each of these heavily guarded by mooks and traps, before facing Chao Hong on its top floor. Xiang-ding enters first, with Lu-yi following closely behind, and ultimately Lu-yi ends up battling Chao Hong alone.
  • Love Triangle: Between the three bodyguard leaders, Xiang-ding and Lu-yi, both who had the hots for Piao-piao. Eventually Lu-yi decides Piao-piao is better off with Xiang-ding and gives her up. And also the fact that he's been mortally wounded...
  • One-Hit Kill: Basically, if a faceless mook (either marauder or cavalier) gets hit even once by a named character, they die. This trope explains how Xiang-ding and Lu-yi managed to kill at least 60 people (each) in the finale.
  • Secret Stab Wound: Lu-yi hides his mortal injury while bidding farewell to Xiang-ding and Piao-piao, only succumbing after they're well out of range.
  • Sword Fight: Between Xiang-ding and Lu-yi, and later on when the main characters have to fight off Elite Mooks outside the pagoda.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Ultimately, it's up to Lu-yi and Xiang-ding, both men caught in a Love Triangle with Piao-piao, to team up and infiltrate Chao Hong's pagoda lair for the finale. Neither of them are really keen with the thought of working alongside each other.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Lu-yi, Xiang-ding, Piao-piao. Plenty of Cock Fight scenes occurs between the former two throughout the earlier parts of the film.
  • White Shirt of Death: Inverted. In the final battle, Lu-yi wears black, while Xiang-ding wears white. Both of them suffers multiple, life-threatening injuries while killing their way to the top of the pagoda base, but in the end it's the black-clad Lu-yi who ends up dying.


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