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Film / The Silent Swordsman

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The Silent Swordsman is a 1967 Shaw Brothers film starring Chang Yi, Shu Pei-pei (not to be confused by Cheng Pei-Pei), Lisa Chiao and directed by Kao-li.

The movie is a Spiritual Adaptation loosely based on the Louis Cha / Jin Yong novel, The Book and the Sword, but with entirely original characters specifically created for the film.

During the Song Dynasty, in the middle of a war against the Mongols, a leading general of the Imperial court is suspected of being a traitor. A young martial arts student, Shen Bingyi (Chang Yi), searching for his missing brother during the war, ends up uncovering a plot to overthrow the government when he inexplicably ends up falling for a pair of Mongolian sisters whom are daughters of a Mongol warlord.

Due to being released six weeks after the other Shaw Brothers classic, One-Armed Swordsman, The Silent Swordsman is pretty much swept under the rug ever since it's release, but it's worth a look for Shaw Brothers fans interested in their older stuff, notably one of the studio's first attempts at a multi-genre mishmash of a film.

The Silent Swordsman contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: The Mongol sisters, Shi-shi and Meng-meng, who gets to take names alongside Shen Ping-yi in the finale.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: The war montage that opens the film right before the credits, and the finale when Shen Ping-yi, the two Mongol sisters and the La Résistance fights General Lu and his army of Imperial traitors.
  • Combat Hand Fan: Shen Ping-yi uses his edged fan in tandem with his sword, Dual Wielding style.
  • Death of a Child: Master Wu is forced to execute his own grandson because the boy accidentally spilled the secrets about the La Résistance hideout to enemy spies, in exchange for a cool-looking dagger offered as a bribe.
  • Family Theme Naming: While the Mongol Chieftain is unnamed throughout the movie, his daughters are named Shi-shi and Meng-meng.
  • Fur and Loathing: The Mongol chieftain, his daughters Shi-shi and Meng-meng, his servants, handmaidens and soldiers all wears varieties of furs in their clothing, despite the lack of snowing environments. But then again the Mongolian climate is known for being rather chilly even in the summer.
  • Genre Mashup: One of Shaw Brothers’ earliest attempts in making a complete medley of whatever genre of films they have in their catalogue at the time, see below.
  • Genre Shift: The movie starts off as a historical/war epic, before turning into a wuxia martial arts flick, and then turning to a thriller, then a musical, before turning back to a war epic right at the end.
  • It Has Been an Honor: Said by the Deputy Chief, Ge Jingfu, right before he expires.
  • Musical Episode: At the end of the second act after Shen Ping-yi got to know the Mongol sisters Shi-shi and Meng-meng, there is a musical number in the Mongolian camp that lasts for nearly ten minutes before the movie goes back to action.
  • Offhand Backhand: The weapons variety is used during the fight scenes. Master Wu takes out a mook sneaking up on him using his staff in this manner, while Shen Ping-yi, struggling against a mook with his sword, uses his free hand holding a second, shorter sword to stab another mook coming up behind him.
  • Offing the Offspring: A grandchild variant, when Master Wu eliminates his grandson for spilling the beans to their enemies.
  • Wuxia