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Film / Holy Flame of the Martial World

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Holy Flame of the Martial World is a 1983 Martial Arts Movie produced by the Shaw Brothers, directed by Chun-Ku Lu.

Yin Tien-Chou (Max Mok) and his sister (Ching-Ching Yeung) are separated at birth due to their parents being killed by Tsing Yin (Leanne Lau), the leader of the Er Mei Clan, and her associate Monster Yu (Jason Pai) for trying to hide the location of the two blades known as the "Holy flames". Tien-Chou is rescued by someone known as You-ming Elder (Phillip Kwok), the sworn enemy of the two, who trains him to avenge his parents and find the first sword, both which were specifically made for a male and female, while Tsing Yin took the sister and trained her to be her disciple and pawn.

This is notably one of the last psychedelic-fantasy epics made by the Shaws at the beginning of the 80s after the success of The Battle Wizard (from 6 years earlier) released alongside (all in 1983, in fact!) a slew of similar crazy, visual-effects loaded martial arts films including Buddha's Palm, Descendant of the Sun and Demon of the Lute.


Holy Tropes of the Martial World:

  • Ambiguous Gender: It's not entirely clear whether or not "Kid Golden Snake", who is sometimes referred to as "Snake Boy", is at all male.
  • Anomalous Art: Invoked; the Blood-Sucking clan's leader uses paintings to summon demons to fight their enemies.
  • Back for the Dead: After being absent for most of the movie, the 7 Grandmasters show up to take the yin variant of the Holy Flame from Tsing Yin only to be killed off in a matter of seconds.
  • Badass Normal: Subverted; the 7 grandmasters seem like a formidable bunch given their skills, but the Shaolin sect teacher is a coward and the other 6 are shown to be absolutely useless in the end as they've no qi and are killed by Tsing Yin after trying to fight her.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Where to begin...
    • You have Tsing Yin of the all-female Er Mei Clan and her associate Monster Yu who want the Holy Flames out of sheer lust for power.
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    • The Blood-sucking clan, whom Yin Tien-Chou and Tuan Yun-Hsiu fight when trying to rescue Tu Chuan-Erh and acquire the Yang variant of the Holy Flame from the clan's leader.
    • The 7 Grandmasters who are only shown in the beginning and pop up at the very end when they learn of the location of the Yin variant of the Holy Flame.
  • Bullying a Dragon: After the 7 grandmasters catch wind of the fact that Tsing Yin had the yin-variant of the Holy Flame the entire time, they charge against her despite the fact they know how powerful she is; justified since this is the holy flame they're talking about, which the grandmasters have all spent 18 years searching for, and they are hell bent on getting the swords for profit.
  • Dem Bones: At one point of the film, there's a living, walking skeleton rising out of the holy flames.
  • Deuteragonist: Tan-Feng serves as this because she's Tien-Chou's sister and the wielder of the yin-variant of the Holy Flame.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Downplayed; Tsing Yin has this reaction to Tu Chuan-Erh after she accidentally blasts the former with qi that she had no idea she had until that point.
  • Dirty Coward: Downplayed; Of all the 7 grandmasters the Shaolin Monk is by far the least helpful in that he literally sends the other 6 to go fight Tsing Yin and get killed for nothing, and when it's his turn? He begs for mercy, only for Yu to finish him off when he tries to flee the hideout.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: During the ritual in which Yu and Tsing Yin gain immunity from the "Ghostly Laughs" technique, the only shots shown before that is them throwing their clothes to the side and having only shots of their faces as they're being bathed; without context, its meant to look like they were having sex together.
  • Dub Name Change: Not only is You-ming Elder's name changed to "Yama Elder" in the American version, but his technique "Ghostly laughs" is changed to deadly echoes.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A very rare case in Shaw Brothers films; Despite the hardships Tien-Chou and Tan-Feng went through, they finally reunited as family and through You-Ming Elder's Guidance, they defeated Tsing Yin and Monster Yu. Although Yun-Hisu took a heavy blow from Chuan-Er by accident, it's guaranteed he's going to survive thanks to You-Ming's treatment and right on time for the feast that the two heroes head off for.
  • Laughing Mad: Invoked with the technique used by You-Ming Elder and Tien-Chou known as "Ghostly Laughs"; it is literally meant to manically laugh in order to create enough winds to either bleed their opponents out through piercing sounds or to blow them off their feet.
  • Lighter and Softer: Downplayed; it's still as bloody as most Shaw Brothers films, but in terms of tone it's alot more idealistic and upbeat compared to other films.
  • Magical Weapon: The two swords known as the Holy flames; there's both a yin and a yang variant, which can only be used by a woman and man respectively. Those with qi can tap into the magic power of the weapons, simply launching them at their opponents, shooting lasers, or even using them as a platform to crush their enemies or fly around on if the two wielders are together.
  • Mysterious Protector: "Kid Golden Snake" appears to be a guide and a mentor to Tan-Feng throughout the movie, essentially guiding her down the path of good at the very end after revealing the truth to her.
  • Names To Run Awayfrom Really Fast: You probably don't want to mess someone who is literally named Monster Yu.
  • Nun Too Holy: Gender-inverted; among the many schools working under Monster Yu's thumb, a shaolin monk is amongst one of the many greedy fighters.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The ghosts in this film are spawned by enchanted flames.
  • Parental Substitute: You-ming Elder takes in Tien-Chou as his own, raising him to be good and to become strong enough to avenge his parents. He even takes Tu Chuan-Erh, who's father was killed by Blood-Sucking Clan ghosts, as another pupil.
  • Power Glows: Occurs whenever qi users imbues themselves with a powerful aura of energy.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The 7 grandmasters are kung fu masters of various schools under the thumb of Monster Yu, all eager for the Holy flames to profit.
  • The Reveal: Tan-Feng is revealed to be Tien-Chou's sister during her fight with him and You-Ming Elder, the latter who reveals the truth about her origins.
  • Sword of Plot Advancement: The holy flames are twin swords, the red yang-variant and the blue yin-variant, that are central to the plot of the story; the yang-variant is primarily used since Tien-Chou gets it early in the film. The Yang-variant is only useable by a male whereas the Yin-variant can only be used as a female, as stated by Tsing Yin when lecturing Yun-Hsiu.
  • Technicolor Blade: The Yin and Yang variants of the Holy Flame are blue and red respectively.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Justified; the Holy Flames are magical in nature and smaller in nature compared to other swords, and thus are meant to be launched at their opponent using qi when trying to strike their opponents with it physically.
  • Token Good Teammate: Tuan Yun-Hsiu, despite being Monster Yu's protégé, clearly wants nothing more than to have fun with his skills and has a moral compass as he hesitates to betray Tien-Chou after he saved his life and gets very distraught when Tsing Yin kills her two bodyguards whom failed to protect the Yin-variant of the Holy Flame.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Evidently the 7 grandmasters thought it a good idea to try and harass Tsing Yin, a martial artist of great skill and powerful qi, into giving the yin-variant of the Holy Flame to them knowing full well she's far more skilled than them...they severely overestimate their skill greatly thinking that they can overpower Tsing Yin through strength in numbers and all get themselves killed.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Later on in the film, Tu Chuan-Erh learns how to concentrate her qi through her finger thanks to You-Ming Elder, allowing her to use qi blasts against her opponents.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: Many of the abilities and powers of the fighters in this movie are all supernatural, from the Ghostly Laughs of You-Ming Elder to the capabilities behind the twin swords known as the "Holy Flames".
  • Wire Fu: This technique is used in practically all the action scenes.
  • Xianxia: Naturally, given the overall theme of the movie.