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Film / Raw Courage

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Who knew the "Three X and a Baby" formula dates back to the Ming Dynasty?

Raw Courage is a 1969 Wuxia Shaw Brothers martial arts film starring Cheng Pei-Pei, Yueh Hua (one of their many, many collaborations in martial arts movies, common as it is in the late 60s/early 70s) and Ng Fung.

An attempt to usurp the Ming Emperor's throne by the sinister martial artist simply known as "Old Monster" and his armies results in most of the palace being massacred, and the emperor's infant son, the prince, in the hands of the Shangguan family who have sworn their lives to serve the Imperial court, with their daughter, Shangguan Hsiu-yi (Cheng) bearing the responsibility of bringing the infant prince to the capital city for reinforcements. Tagging along with her is the warrior Chin Chen Hsiung (Fung), and as they try their best to evad eenmy spies who wants the emperor's bloodline wiped out, unexpected help comes in the form of wandering swordsman and veteran badass of the martial arts world, Chou Fei-yun (Yueh Hua).


Will the three heroes be able to secure the baby prince all the way to the Imperial city?

Raw Courage provides the following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Shangguan Hsiu-yi, played by the ever-badass Cheng Pei-pei.
  • Badass and Baby: The Power Trio of Hsiu-yi, Fei-yun and Chen-hsiung have to make their way to the Imperial capital while carrying the Emperor’s baby son, who is being pursued by enemies all over the place.
  • Beneath the Earth: Near the end of the movie there’s an extended fight scene in a series of underground tunnels.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: The East Sea Clan Chief leading the invading army, Yu Hua-chiao of the "Scarf" Clan who wants the emperor’s royal seal, and the villainous Old Monster.
  • Cave Behind the Falls: The Power Trio took a break behind one of these in the forest after fleeing from enemy soldiers.
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  • Coffin Contraband: After their close shave with enemy soldiers at an earlier checkpoint, the Power Trio inevitably have to cross a forest with another checkpoint. At which point they decide to pose as funeral pallbearers, Fei-yun and Chen-hsiung carrying a coffin (whose bottom had a hole to allow breathing) containing Hsiu-yi and the baby prince. It doesn’t work, she ends up jumping out the coffin when enemy soldiers try to inspect it. Cue epic fight scene.
  • Cool Old Guy: Mo Wen Tien, who leads the beggar clan, contributing the Big Damn Heroes moment of the final battle and even personally killing Old Monster, the Big Bad of the movie.
  • Dark Action Girl: Hua-chiao, the Evil Counterpart to Hsiu-yi. Their Designated Girl Fight turns out to be a hilariously short Curb-Stomp Battle where Hsiu-yi kills Hua-chiao in less than four seconds.
  • Dirty Old Man: Old Monster is shown to have his own Paid Harem that he cuddles while waiting for his men to hunt down the baby prince.
  • Heroic Second Wind: The Beggar clan, emperor’s reinforcements and La Résistance arriving in the underground caves where Hsiu-yi and Fei-yun are fighting off the remnants of the enemy army.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Mostly averted, but played straight when Old Monster gets Mo Wen Tien’s staff shoved through his back, and resulting in a small blood geyser when the staff is pulled out.
  • In a Single Bound: Most named characters can scale tall structures such as guard towers and fortress walls just by jumping; Hsiu-yi, Fei-yun, Chen-hsiung, Old Monster, but then again this is a 70s wuxia so it’s not really that surprising.
  • Mama Bear: Hsiu-yi spends most of the film kicking ass while carrying the baby prince on her back, and will slaughter every enemy who threatens the baby’s life. In contrast, the two male protagonists barely spend any time with the baby at all.
  • No Name Given: The Big Bad is simply called Old Monster. Kinda Exactly What It Says on the Tin too, given his character.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Even though the heroes emerged victorious at the end of the movie and kills off the entire remaining force of the invader's army, unfortunately Chen-hsiung doesn’t live to see it.
  • Secret Underground Passage: The hidden escape route hidden in the Emperor’s palace, which leads to a back exit and allowing Hsiu-yi and Chen-hsiung to escape with the baby prince while enemy soldiers searches the place frantically for them.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Fei-yun and Chen-hsiung doesn’t really agree to each other’s decisions, and more than once both men nearly end up fighting each other before Hsiu-yi tells them to quit it.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Even better: Kicking Your Sword into Your Enemies Always Works!
  • Two Guys and a Girl
  • We Need a Distraction: When Hsiu-yi and Chen-hsiung (both disguised as farmers) unsuccessfully tries to bluff their way past a checkpoint and ends up having enemy soldiers demanding for them to remove their hats and coats which they’re using to disguise themselves, Fei-yun (who follows a minute later behind) immediately steals a horse from the enemy soldiers’ sergeant, creating a brief confusion so his two partners can escape.
  • White Shirt of Death: Exaggerated when the Power Trio gets Lured Into a Trap by Yu Hua-chiao, who leads the Scarf Clan; soldiers clad entirely in white headscarves and uniforms. When they attack, Hsiu-yi, Fei-yun and Chen-hsiung effortlessly slays them a dozen at a time, and five minutes later the arena of battle is cluttered with nearly a hundred dead white-clad Scarf Clan mooks.
  • Wire Fu