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Film / The Bastard

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He's the one on top.

The Bastard is a 1973 Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Movie starring Lily Li and Chung Wa.

The titular bastard refers to Chung Wa's character, Xia, an orphan raised by a hermit from the mountains; upon completing his training, Xia's mentor tells him to head for the big city and find his true aim in life, which he constantly questions during his apprenticeship. But without friends or relatives, a seemingly random run-in with the spunky beggar-girl Hsiao-yi (Lily Li) results in both of them becoming inseparable as Xia and Hsiao-yi tries making a living in the big city.

But with a twist of fate, Xia eventually finds out his true parentage; he is the long-lost son of Master Gu, a wealthy landlord and local baron, who has been seeking his true child for years, and is immediately appointed as the heir to the Gu family's riches, on the condition that he cuts of all ties with his past; including those with his best friend, Hsiao-yi.


The Bastard Contains Examples of...

  • Affair? Blame the Bastard: The reason why Xia is an orphan and homeless vagabond? He's actually the bastard older son of Master Gu, which Gu disowns shortly after his birth. Xia made his way back to the city and ends up being identified as Gu's long-lost son... only to be made a sucker as Master Gu actually plans to have Xia take over his other son's place in the firing squad.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: Xia towards Hsiao-yi; he originally considered her to be an annoying tagalong sidekick who can't stop following him for most of the movie, and flat-out accuses her for trying to ride on his coattails after he made it big as Master Gu's biological son. But then she gave up her life to prove that Master Gu is using Xia as a scapegoat and the Fall Guy, the truth which Xia eventually realized... beside her corpse.
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  • Chaste Hero: Xia never shows any interest towards women, even the attractive Hsiao-yi after she had a complete change of clothing.
  • The Cutie: Hsiao-yi, a spunky, friendly beggar-girl who befriends Xia, considers him to be her first actual friend and constantly tags along behind him. She's the friendliest character towards him and ultimately revealed to be the only friend who actually cares for him towards the end. Too bad Kill the Cutie gets in the way.
  • The Everyman: Xia, the only character in the film that isn't a punk, criminal or gangster. His normalness and naivety makes him an easy scapegoat when Master Gu wants to use him as a sucker and Fall Guy to take his son's place in execution.
  • Females Are More Innocent: Hsiao-yi, the only named female character in the film, is the only character who genuinely cares for Xia the titular bastard, and sees him as a friend and not a tool to exploit after he's accepted in the Gu household.
  • Foreshadowing: Hsiao-yi's Attempted Suicide doesn't really work when she overheard a ploy to have Xia framed for murder and used as a scapegoat for an actual villain. But that doesn't mean she's going to survive the movie.
  • Hate Sink: While Master Gu, despite his manipulative nature, ultimately does love his other biological son, Gu Ying-hsiong (a murderer, by the way) enough to have his older bastard son set up as a scapegoat and therefore have some redeeming qualities, the same thing cannot be said for the latter. Gu Ying-hsiong is a prodigal son and Entitled Bastard who abuses his family's powers and wealth, and actually expects his father to bail him out of jail after he is arrested for raping and killing a woman. After Xia took over his place and is sentenced to execution in his place, Gu Ying-hsiong shows exactly zero signs of remorse or gratitude, instead continues berating his old man for taking too long to get him out and badmouths Xia, his biological long-lost brother, even as Xia faces impending doom from execution (if Hsiao-yi didn't risk her life to help Xia escape). It's obvious that audiences aren't supposed to see Gu Ying-hsiong in a positive way and should cheer when he gets deservingly shot at the end.
  • Identical Stranger: Xia looks exactly like Master Gu's biological son Gu Ying-hsiong, a convicted murderer about to be executed, which makes him just perfect to take over the murderer's place in the firing squad. They turn out to be long-lost brothers, although they aren't twins.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Xia, despite the trappings of wealth, luxury and power after being identified as Master Gu's long-lost son, still maintains his belief towards friendship and loyalty.
  • Interrupted Suicide: An example that doesn't involve an outsider barging in to stop the suicidal one's attempt; Hsiao-yi, believing her Only Friend Xia had disowned her, intends to hang herself in a basement. But when she moved a plank to tie a rope, she ends up opening a hidden entrance in Master Gu's hall, and overheard Master Gu discussing with his underlings his plan to have Xia framed for murder. At which point Hsiao-yi promptyl decides her suicide can wait and sets off to alert Xia.
  • Karmic Death: Master Gu's biological son, Gu Ying-hsiong, a convicted murderer, escapes the firing squad thanks to his father using Xia, an Identical Stranger, as a scapegoat. But Xia managed to escape, and when Master Gu orders a firing squad to open fire on Xia, the squad mistook Gu Ying-hsiong to be Xia and guns him down on the spot.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Inverted with Hsiao-yi, the beggar girl; the story took a turn into seriousness after she died trying to expose Master Gu's plans to have Xia framed for murder and used as a scapegoat.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: After Xia kills off six of Master Gu's thugs and asks if the rest are willing to die as well, the remainders quickly turns tail and flees.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Xia, a newcomer, takes everything that comes into his way with stride and doesn't even bother asking questions.
  • Only Friend: Hsiao-yi towards Xia early in the film, she is the first person who's actually kind to him when he entered the city, supports him even when he's an outcast wherever he goes, and later on when Xia become a powerful, influential figure in society due to being accepted as Master Gu's long-lost son, Hsiao-yi gave her life to expose Master Gu's true plans, to have Xia as a scapegoat for his other son serving prison for murder.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Male example with Xia, his default hairstyle in the movie, as seen on the above poster.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Ultimately, the thugs serving Master Gu; when ordered to kill Xia, Master Gu tells them whomever lands a killing blow will be rewarded 50 pounds of silver and 10 acres of land. But then Xia effortlessly kills six of them in ten seconds, and asks the rest if they value wealth over their life. The remainders quickly beats it.
  • The Reveal: Xia, allegedly the long-lost biological son of Master Gu that Gu spends most of his life searching, turns out to be nothing but a bastard. He was re-accepted into the Gu family only because Gu's other younger son, Gu Ying-hsiong, is a murderer facing an execution sentence, and Master Gu intends to use Xia as a sucker to take his other son's place in the firing squad.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Xia early on in the film. That changes when he finds out he's actually the long-lost son of Master Gu and is entitled to the Gu family's huge inheritance.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Xia's final rampage in Master Gu's mansion to kill Master Gu and Gu Ying-Hsiong, is dedicated to avenging the deceased Hsiao-yi, his true friend.
  • Say My Name: Xia does one of these when holding Hsiao-yi's corpse.
    Xia: HSIAO-YI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • The Scapegoat: The reason for Master Gu to accept Xia, formerly a bastard son he disowned? So that Xia can take over Master Gu's other son, the convicted murderer Gu Ying-hsiong's place in the firing squad.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Hsiao-yi after ditching her beggar outfit into a nice silk dress.
  • Spanner in the Works: Master Gu intends to frame Xia for murder become the Body Double for his biological son, a convicted murderer. But Hsiao-yi overheard Master Gu discussing his plans with his underlings, and quickly sets off to warn her best friend.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Xia does this under Say My Name, and also after killing a few henchmen while staring down the rest in the climatic revenge fight.
    Xia: Do you want the silver, or do you prefer your life?
    (several thugs surrounding Xia looks at each other, unsure, after Xia killed half a dozen of them)
    (All remaining twenty-odd thugs quickly retreats, much to their boss' chagrin)
  • Walking the Earth: Xia's eventual fate after the end credits. The murderer Gu Ying-hsiong is dead, Master Gu had gone insane, and Xia's only true friend Hsiao-yi died for him. But Xia will continue travelling from city to city to find his true aim in life.


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