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Film / The Jade Faced Assassin

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The Jade-faced Assassin is a 1971 Shaw Brothers wuxia film loosely based on the classic Gu Long novel, The Proud Twins.

A forbidden love affair in the martial world sends the clans in a massive uproar. The warrior, Zhang-Zhen, and the youngest daughter of the powerful Chang Clan, Yue-Nu, are lovers, despite their romance being forbidden by their respective families, and with Yue-Nu having bore a pair of twins as a result of their courtship, they are forced to be on the run from their clans with their children. But an unfortunate encounter with a band of marauders left the parents, Zhang-Zhen and Yue-Nu, killed in battle, with the babies taken in by Yue-Nu's older sisters.

Intending to restore honor to the Chang Clan, the eldest Chang sister intends to have both babies raised into adulthood and later make them kill each other to decide whom will be their worthy successor. The second sister, who saved the babies from the marauders in the first place, opposes that idea, and decide to have the babies separated into different allied families to prevent them from even meeting each other. The baby boy is taken in by the Hua Clan, given the name Hua Yu-chun and grows up to be a heroic swordsman, but as luck would have it, the baby girl, originally adopted by an old martial artist, ends up being stolen by a band of murderers called the Ten Villains, who ultimately decide to raise the girl, later named Hsiao Lu-er, into becoming their "deadliest champion".


When the eldest Chang sister found out the babies' fate, she will pull the strings to manipulate the long-lost twins into fighting each other to the death.

See also The Proud Twins, a later adaptation of the same novel, also made by the Shaws.

The Jade-Faced Tropers:

  • Action Girl: Hsiao Lu-er the swordswoman.
  • Affair? Blame the Bastard: The bastards being the two main characters, Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er, born in the aftermath of a forbidden affair between the warrior Zhang-Zhen and the Chang Clan's daughter Yue-Nu. After the parents' deaths, the Clan's higher-ups then decides to raise the babies separately... and force them to fight each other to the death when reaching adulthood to determine the "worthy" successor.
  • Age Cut: Depicting Hsiao Lu-er growing up with the Ten Villains, training in their skills firstly as a little girl, then a teenager, and an adult, and progressively improving with each scene.
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  • Big Damn Heroes: In the opening scene, Zhang-Zhen and Yue-Nu are ambushed and about to be killed by marauders, who intends to rob them and kill even the babies. But Yue-Nu's sisters comes to the rescue. They only succeed in saving the babies, n'not' the parents, however.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Ten Villains of Villain Valley literally introduces themselves with that title.
    "We are the Ten Villains!"
  • Child of Forbidden Love: The two main characters, Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er, are the twin babies born after a warrior of a noble family, Zhang Zhen, fell for the daughter of the Chang Clan, Yue-Nu. Their attempts to flee the clans with their babies didn't work as planned.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: The fate of the old warrior, Yan Nan-tian, after being overpowered by ther Ten Villains. He succumbs to injuries soon after, the last thing he sees which is his adopted child, Yu-Chun, being stolen by the Ten Villains, who gloats that they will let the baby follow him soon after. But luckily they didn't follow up that promise (see Even Evil Has Standards).
  • Duel to the Death: Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er, being the children of a forbidden love affair, is monitored by the Chang Clan to fight each other to the death in adulthood, where only one survivor will be a worthy successor. Ultimately averted; their duel comes to a standstill when their aunt, eventually unable to allow the siblings to kill each other, blocks Lu-er's sword and tells them the truth.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: After the Ten Villains had killed Lu-er's adoptive father and have the baby Lu-er in their grasp, they realize, in the last moments, that they can't actually proceed with murdering a month-old-baby. Which leads to their ultimatum to eventually raise Lu-er into becoming one of their warriors instead.
  • Forbidden Love: The love story between the noble warrior Zhang Zhen and the Chang clan's youngest daughter Yue-Nu, and their subsequent exile after the birth of their babies, kicks off the plot of the film.
  • High-Pressure Blood: No Shaw movie would be complete without geysers of blood gushing out from stabs, right?
  • In a Single Bound: Like every good wuxia, this one has named characters leaping all over the place with ease, mostly from Lu-er during her fights.
  • Jack-of-All-Trades: Hsiao Lu-er, a Multi-Melee Master who knows how to fight with ten different kung-fu skills using multiple varieties of weapons. Justified that she's raised by ten villainous killers, each of them having a different skill, which they passed on to her since she was a child.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The eldest sister of the Chang Clan manipulates the long-lost twins, Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er, both whom are oblivious to each other's identity, into fighting each other, hoping one of them can kill another just to restore honour to the clans.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er, the two protagonists raised in different factions, are oblivious to the fact that they are actually twin siblings Separated at Birth.
  • Master Swordsman: The two heroes, Hua Yu-Chun and Hsiao Lu-er, but more so for the former who uses swords more often in their battles.
  • Raised by Rival: Hsiao Lu-er, after being stolen by the Ten Villains, ends up being raised by criminals into becoming a warrior.
  • Separated at Birth: The twin babies of Zhang Zhen and Yue-Nu, the product of their forbidden love; after the parents are killed by bandits, both babies ends up being picked up by separate martial artists. The male infant, Hua Yu-chun, grows up in a righteous martial arts clan, while the female, Hsiao Lu-er, was stolen by the Ten Villains and raised into becoming a bandit fighter.
  • Sword Fight: 90% of Shaw wuxia epics contains sword-battles, this one isn't an exception.
  • Training Montage: The young Lu-er training in ten different styles of kung-fu, by the Ten Villains, from childhood to adulthood.
  • Unknown Relative: For most of the movie Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er are unaware they are actually twin siblings, being manipulated by the Chang Clan into the best fighters of their respective factions and fated to fight each other to the death someday. In their penultimate confrontation, their aunt interrupts their duel and stops them from killing each other by telling them the truth.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye:
    • The film begins with Zhang-Zhen and Yue-Nu, carrying their twins Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er (both which are unnamed at that point) fleeing from their clans after the birth of the twins, only to get ambushed by a legion of marauders. Despite Zhang-Zhen putting up a fierce fight, he ends up being slain, before Yue-Nu gets mortally injured, followed by Yue-Nu's older sister and the twins' aunt coming to the rescue. The audience only knows the babies' origins as product of a forbidden love story after the parents' demise.
    • The Swordsman Yen Nan-tian, who adopts the baby Hsiao Lu-er, only to get killed by bandits minutes later. The film gives him a proper fanfare as he enters, hypes him to be an important hero (the archetypical wuxia old master who, in other similar films of this genre, would end up raising the baby hero into an important protagonist) but alas, he dies before audience could know more about him, and after that the baby Lu-er ends up being adopted by the bandit clan instead.
  • Wham Line: The aunt of the heroes, Hua Yu-chun and Hsiao Lu-er, who saved them when they were babies eighteen years ago, delivers this in the finale to stop them from killing each other.
    " You two are brother and sister!"
  • Would Hurt a Child:
    • The marauders in the beginning gleefully tries to execute the twin babies of Zhang-Zhen and Yue-Nu, and they nearly succeed until Yue-Nu's sister and the twins' aunt intervenes, killing all of them.
    • Thankfully averted when the baby Lu-er, after being stolen from her adoptive father, ends up in the hands of the feared killers called the ten Villains. The villains decide NOT to kill the baby, raising her as one of their members instead.
  • Whip It Good: The oldest sister of the Chang Clan uses a whip in her fight scenes.
  • Wuxia


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