Set in the Chinese-Mongolian border during ancient periods, a treasure vault is raided and the Yun family, tasked with protecting its contents, is massacred. But the Yun family's young daughter, Yang Kai-Yun / Miss Yun survives the bloodbath. Eighteen years later, Yun (Cheng Pei-pei) grows up seeking to avenge her family, and she is assisted by Wang Jian-xin, a swordsman who had reasons of his own for helping her.
Unusually for a Wuxia movie starring Cheng Pei-pei "The Queen of Swords", in this movie she uses a whip as her default weapon instead.
Shadow Whip provides the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Yang Kai-Yun.
- An Arm and a Leg: During a big fight scene against various Elite Mooks, one of them tried leaping over Yun to attack from above, only for Yun to lash out her whip and grab his legs, then yank it right off causing his legless body to fall to the ground.
- Antagonist Title: The Shadow Whip actually refers to the Red Baron title of Fang, the Big Bad.
- And the Adventure Continues: By the end of the film, Yun and Wang have defeated their common enemy Fang together, and they prepare to ride off for their next adventure.
- Back-to-Back Badasses: Yun and Wang, the Battle Couple, in several fight scenes where the two of them take on hordes and hordes of mooks.
- Cool Old Guy: Chief Hong, one of the martial arts seniors, who is Yuns Badass Teacher who gets to kick plenty of ass alongside her.
- Dual Wield: Yun gets to kick ass using a whip on one hand and a small dagger on another.
- Grim Up North: Majority of this movie is set in the Northern Chinese-Mongolian border, where the weather is snowy all the time.
- Human Shield: During the battle against a horde of Elite Mook, Yun manage to grab hold of one of them using her whip, just as six others flings their spears at her. She instinctively uses the unfortunate mook as a meatshield turning him into a Human Pincushion.
- I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Fang, the Big Bad, accidentally confessed in front of all the Martial Arts seniors and elders of his crimes on how hes responsible for the theft of jewelry and silencing the entire Yun family decades ago, when Yun delivers her Armor-Piercing Question on him about what happened that fateful night 18 years ago...Yun: "You didn't realize I watched you murder my parents that night when you raided the treasure vault, did you? I was there the whole time, and I recognized that scar on your cheek even today!"Fang: "Nonsense! You couldn't have recognized me that night, because my face was covered behind my veil..." *oops* (suddenly realized that he said too much)
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Fang dies in this way when leaping towards Yun, only for Wang to intercept him mid-jump and shove his sword into Fangs guts.
- In a Single Bound: Wang, who can scale a wall half a meter taller than him with a single jump.
- Leave No Survivors: Fang, who raided the treasure vault protected by the Yun family decades ago, decides to kill everyone he sees, including servants and handmaidens and both the Yun seniors. He didnt realize Yang Kai-Yun, then a little girl, watching the massacre though.
- The Not-Love Interest: Yun and Wang may spend the whole movie kicking ass together, but by the credits nothing romantic came up between them. They're closer to being Platonic Life-Partners.
- Parrying Bullets: A variation, Yun parries spears flung at her using her whip.
- Pretty in Mink: Yun, who wears her red fur coat and winter hood in every scene shes in.
- Spear Carrier: Most of the Elite Mook warriors use double-sided spears.
- Terrible Trio: The Serial Trio, three Elite Mook bandits serving Fang. Against expert swordsman Wang however they are quickly sent packing after a single fight.
- Whip It Good: True to the films title, Fangs preferred weapon is a whip. Yun also uses the same weapon against hordes of mooks, although with a small knife as a sidearm.
- Wire Fu