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Film / The Lady Assassin

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The Lady Assassin is a 1983 Shaw Brothers martial arts film starring Norman Chu, Max Mok, Anthony Lau Wing and relatively minor Shaw Brothers starlet Leanne Lau Suet-Wah note  as the titular character.

In the late Qing Dynasty, the corrupt Imperial Court has allowed tyranny and dictatorship to reign over the populace. The Emperor, Yong Zheng, rules with an iron fist; but a legion of assassins, including the eponymous heroine, are determined to put an end to his rule.

The Lady Assassin contains example of:

  • Amazon Brigade: Resident Action Girl Lui Si Niang and her posse of fellow female asskickers who supports the La Résistance.
  • Anyone Can Die: Hmm... there is the entire La Résistance force including Tsai Jing, Yong Zheng's entourage, plenty of the palace's imperial staff, Emperor Yong Zheng himself, and even the titular heroine isn't likely to survive after the final scene, although her ultimate fate is left ambiguous.
  • Big Bad: Emperor Yong Zheng is The Usurper to the throne and main villain of the film.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Tsang Jing in his final scene, where he succumbs after killing a whole platoon of Yong Zheng's soldiers.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: After Lui Si-niang had killed Emperor Yong Zheng , reinforcements starts coming for her. And then the film suddenly ends.
  • Cultured Badass: Tsang Jing, besides being a warrior, is also a scholar and bookworm who quotes historical facts and anecdotes every now and then in the film.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: Tsai Jing in his final scene; despite being mortally wounded, he refuse to go down fighting, instead just takes on an entire platoon of enemy soldiers, taking names left and right while sustaining plenty of injuries himself before he finally, finally succumbs.
  • Gorn: One of the gorier wuxia Shaw Brothers released in the 1980s.
  • Gratuitous Ninja:
    • In the failed opening assasination scene, Yong Zheng's would-be killers are inexplicably dressed as ninjas.
    • Yong Zheng himself have a platoon of Elite Mooks dressed like ninjas, in gold shiny outfits.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Done TWICE in a row. This is how Lui Si-niang killed Yong Zheng's henchman, and Yong Zheng himself. Horizontally for the former, vertically for the latter.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Used in every big battle scene. The last two deaths of the film Yong Zheng and The Dragon literally erupts into a red geyser.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: There is an Emperor Yong Zheng in real Manchurian history, but he's nowhere as villainous as his film counterpart.
  • In a Single Bound: Most of the combatants can leap and fly all over the place with ease. In the final battle against a group of Elite Mook ninjas it results in an exciting high-flying action sequence on the palace's ceiling levels.
  • La Résistance: The underground rebels who opposes Yong Zheng's rule.
  • Pinball Protagonist: For most of the film, the narrative seems unsure whether to focus more on Tsang Jing or Lui Si-niang, where their prominence and contributions to the plot of the story seems to randomly bounce between one another. A great deal of focus is on him rather early in the film, and suddenly she gets more attention by the second act, before going back to him, and so on.
  • Secondary Character Title: The titular Lady Assassin, Lui Si-Niang, is not the main character; most of the film tends to focus on Tsang Jing instead and his valiant efforts to put an end to Yong Zheng's reign of tyranny. She finally lives up to her name in the finale but Tsang is not alive to see it.
  • One-Man Army: Tsang Jing single-handedly interrupting an execution and killing dozens upon dozens of enemy soldiers, in his Last Stand.
  • Public Execution: Near the end of the film, Tsang Jing interrupts the public execution of his mentor in the hands of the Imperial. Unfortunately, he ends up being Lured Into a Trap, where the victim being executed turns out to be The Dragon who ambushed Tsang as he's being "rescued".
  • Undercrank: It's painfully obvious that most of the fight scenes were sped-up, most likely due to budgetary reasons.
  • Wuxia