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Film / The 14 Amazons

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The 14 Amazons is a 1972 historical war epic produced by Shaw Brothers, starring Ivy Ling-po, Li Ching, Yueh Hua, Lo Lieh and Fan Mei Sheng.

Very Loosely Based on a True Story, notably the generals of the Yang family (楊家將) who defended the Song Dynasty from Tangut invaders from Western Xia at the cost of their lives, after the Yang family generals died in the war, they are taken over by their wives and sisters, a whole legion of Amazonian warriors dedicated to avenge their husbands and brothers.

After Commander Yang Tsung-Po is brutally executed in a war against invading Tanguts, with none of his soldiers surviving the battle, the Yang family matriarch led by Mu Guiying (Ivy Ling), Yang Tsung-po's wife, is eager to avenge her husband, as was Yang's sisters and the other wives of the Yang family who had lost their spouses in the war as well. But facing rejection from the imperial court due to gender inequalities, the wives and sisters and a top female guard of the Yang family — fourteen of them — ultimately decide to embark on a campaign with their own private army, to take on the Tanguts in an epic final battle.

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The 14 Amazons contains the following examples:

  • Actor Allusion: Ivy Ling-po, who plays Mu Guiying, previously plays Mulan in the Shaw Brothers' adaptation of Hua Mulan, yet another Action Girl-character based on actual Chinese history.
  • Amazon Brigade: It's right there on the film's title. Besides the 14 wives, mothers and sisters of the Yang family, there are also numerous female warriors and sergeants commanding the Yang family troops, who can take names as easily as the men.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Plenty of characters gets to do this, notably the Battle Couple which is Lu-chao and Pat-mui.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The movie climaxes with one of these, as the Yang family finally made it to the Tanguts' fortress, and takes on the Tangut warlords in a massive large-scale battle with plenty of extras being killed en masse.
    • Here's a screencap of both armies facing off before shit gets real.
  • Big Dam Plot: Partway through the film, the Yang family receives news of a whole platoon of Tangut reinforcements returning to the fortress. They won't stand a chance against an increase in such numbers of enemy soldiers, but luckily the Tanguts would need to cross a narrow gorge with a dam to reach their destination. A big part of the middle act is then dedicated to the Yang army trying to formulate a plan to destroy the damn and wipe out the Tanguts before they can return to the fort.
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  • Big Fun: General Chiao, played by Fan Mei-sheng (the Sammo Hung of his time). He's a huge, jolly brute of a man who likes joking around, but still a competent fighter and loyal hero.
  • Blood Is the New Black: On all fourteen of the Amazons at the end of the lengthy final battle.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Audiences knows who to cheer for in the final battle. The Tangut invaders all wears red, while the Yang family's soldiers wears brighter colours - white for the men, yellow for the women.
  • Downer Beginning: The film opens with the Song Imperial army being defeated by the Tanguts and the patriarch of the Yang family, General Yang Tsung-po, being captured alive and pleading with the Tangut warlords to spare his men. The Tanguts were led by the sadistic Fifth Prince, who orders his soldiers to have captured Imperial soldiers to be slowly flogged to their deaths, before having General Yang killed right before the opening credits.
  • Dual Wielding: Some of the Yang sisters use dual weapons in combat, such as Pat-mui the Eight sister who use twin shortswords.
  • Giant Wall of Watery Doom: That wipes out an entire platoon of 200-odd Tangut reinforcements.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Well, it's a Shaw Brothers war film after all.
    • General Chiao and a handful of soldiers loyal to him deliberately stays behind to destroy a dam to wipe out a platoon of Tangut reinforcements, drowning themselves in the process. Chiao in particular said he's more than willing to give up his life if it means he's taking more than two hundred Tanguts along with him.
    • Over a hundred men and women of the Yang family uses themselves as a makeshift human bridge to allow the majority of the army to cross a chasm. The hundred-odd volunteers all end up falling to their deaths, causing the Yang army to suffer massive casualties, but at the least most of their soldiers made it to the Tangut fortress.
  • Home Guard: Most of the soldiers of the Yang family consist of volunteers, conscripts and trainees from their private army, due to the Imperial army suffering too much casualties in the war.
  • Human Ladder: Halfway through the film, a long rope bridge over a chasm meant to be used by the Yang family army to reach the Tanguts' fortress gets burnt down, leaving the Yang army stranded. So over a hundred members of the Yang army, men and women alike, starts stacking themselves into a makeshift human bridge to allow most of the army to cross.
  • Human Pincushion: The Fifth Prince at the end of the final battle, after being skewered by Mu Guiying and her sisters.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: General Chiao managed to infiltrate the Tanguts' ranks via Dressing as the Enemy, but he gets spotted because he forgot to put on the pointy-toed boots as worn by all the Tangut soldiers.
  • Lady of War: Mu Guiying is also a Frontline General who leads her army into battle.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Completely averted; the Yang family armies' ranks consists of both men and women in equal numbers, and plenty of women soldiers dies during the battle against the Tanguts.
  • Off with His Head!: Before the final battle, there is an execution scene in the Tanguts' fortress where three female sergeants from the Yang family captured alive by the Tanguts are sentenced to death via decapitation. The Fifth Prince in particular carries out the execution himself, gloating away as he send the women's heads flying with his BFS.
  • Sixth Ranger: Lu-chao doesn't show up until late in the first act, being a prisoner who escaped from the Tanguts who joined the Yang family army.
  • Tagalong Kid: The Yang's grandson, Yang Wen-kuan, who insists on tagging along for the adventure despite being a prepubescent kid. He ends up contributing quite a bit when it comes to spying on the Tanguts, since he can sneak in and out through crevasses and holes where the adult characters couldn't.
  • Undying Loyalty: The women of the Yang family, towards the Imperial Court and the honor of their family name. There's also the chubby General Chiao, who would sacrifice himself to stop the Tangut reinforcements from hindering the Yang family.
  • World of Action Girls: Fourteen of them. Led by Mu Guiying, and several Yang sisters who are hell-bent on avenging their husbands.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The Tanguts have no qualms killing female soldiers from the Yang army (Truth in Television, as ancient Tanguts sees their fellow warriors as equals, regardless of gender). A special mention goes to the Fifth Prince, who shows glee when executing female sergeants captured alive by his men and specifically targets Mu Guiying and her sisters in the final battle.

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