A princess is born of magic when a meteorite enters the queen's womb during the night of birth. Believing the princess to be cursed, the king then orders to have her set adrift down a river, where she is then discovered by a group of dwarves who raised her to adulthood. 17 years later, the Princess fell in love with a prince who then takes her back to his kingdom, just as the king's evil advisor, who worships a demon in exchange for sorcery powers, plots to usurp the throne. There's also a cyclops, a nine-headed dragon, a group of living statues, a fairy, a genie in a silver box, and the talking skeleton of a deceased warrior whom the prince must seek for advice during his adventure.
Nope, this movie doesn't make any attempt to explain any of these.
The Thrilling Sword is a 1981 Taiwanese Heroic Fantasy film directed by Cheung San-Yee. Made during the boom of fantasy films in the early 1980s, the film combines elements from Snow White, classic Wuxia, wireworks and high-flying action from Shaw Brothers (appropriately enough, the film's villain is portrayed by Shaw Brothers alumni Chang Yi, during that part of his career where he started taking antagonistic roles) with enough random plot twists and Mind Screw to make audiences question their sanity. Accompanied by trippy-as-hell visual effects (due to the film's limited budget and slapping everything together in the last minute in an attempt to cash in on the 80s fantasy craze), the movie...
... is awesome. Yes, really.
This film includes examples of:
- And I Must Scream: The Magic Master is trapped in an enchanted silver box by Lord Hsieh 500 years ago. At the end of the movie, karma kicks in, with Lord Hsieh and Lady Gi ending up sealed in that same silver box, which the Magic Master ensuring it will never be re-opened this time.
- Arch-Enemy: Not only is Lord Hsieh is this to Prince Jun, but also to the Magic Master, because he tricked and imprisoned the Magic Master in a silver box centuries ago.
- Ass Shove: This is the only vulnerable weak spot of the final immortal, which the Prince Jun's fairy companion couldn't immediately spot until the Immortal bends over in an attempt to attack the Prince.
- Attack Its Weak Point: For the Four Immortals, they are Nigh-Invulnerable to all of the Prince's attacks except for one specific weak spot on each. In order, the armpit, the waist, the mouth and for their leader, the anus.
- Baleful Polymorph: As a testament of their power, halfway through the movie Lord Hsieh lands a Curse on Prince Jun that turns him into a bear. He can only regain human form by bathing himself in boiled holy water for seven days, and after that seek the Enchanted Pool to make himself immune to further curses.
- Beam-O-War: Occurs briefly in the Magic Duel between Lord Hsieh and the Magic Master.
- Bears Are Bad News: Invoked, during the scene when Prince Jun is curse to be turned to a bear. Luckily he still retains enough of his sanity to communicate by using hand-motions and nodding his head.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Lord Hsieh and his wife, the Sorceress Gi-er. Together they form an Unholy Matrimony seeking to take over the kingdom.
- Big Ol' Eyebrows: On Lord Hsieh, in case audiences couldn't tell he is the villain.
- Black Magic: The source of Lord Hsieh's powers.
- Cyclops: One summoned by Hsieh the Sorceror is unleashed to torment the populace.
- Cool Sword: Prince Jun earns his enchanted weapon, together with his armour, from the armor-clad skeleton of an ancient warrior. The sword is the only weapon that can defeat Hsieh and save the kingdom.
- Death by Childbirth: Princess Yau's mother, Queen Mei, dies in the process of giving birth to her due to having an asteroid entering her womb during the birthing process. It was this reason which led to King Han casting the princess into a basket and letting her flow down a river.
- Doorstop Baby: The Princess, Yau, who was discovered as a baby in a basket by the dwarves.
- Elite Mook: The Immortal Warriors summoned by Lord Hsieh, who can No-Sell every attack thrown at them, with only one weak spot that no mortals can find. Their leader is a Giant Mook (giant elite mook?) towering over Prince Jun. Naturally Prince Jun can only defeat them with some timely assistance from his Fairy Companion.
- Evil Sorceror: Lord Hsieh and his wife Lady Gi-er serves as the main villains of the picture.
- Fairy Companion: The rabbit fairy, who takes the form of a teenage girl a few inches tall and tags along behind Prince Jun on his quest to find Princess Yau.
- Flipping the Bird: Before confronting Lord Hsieh and his sorceress wife, the Magic Master visibly flips off Hsieh for imprisoning him in the silver box centuries ago.
- Half the Man He Used to Be: The second Immortal warrior's weak spot is his waist, and the prince defeats him via bisection.
- Healing Spring: The enchanted spring housing the titular sword, which grants the prince power to defeat Lord Hsieh.
- Heroism Addict: Hsieh the Sorceror got himself a rather comfy position as the Emperor's advisor by unleashing a cyclops on the population, and then offering to rid the cyclops for the kingdom in exchange for a position of power.
- The Jimmy Hart Version: The soundtrack of the movie is shamelessly pilfered from Space Battleship Yamato. Not only does it show up in the opening credits, but also during fight scenes.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The ultimate fate of Lord Hsieh and Lady Gi; for sealing the Magic Master in an enchanted silver box and trying to take over the kingdom, ultimately Prince Jun used that same silver box to trap Lord Hsieh and Lady Gi, turning them into a pair of Sealed Evils In Cans. The Magic Master took steps to ensure they will NEVER be released.
- Meaningful Name: This is a Taiwanese film with a Big Bad named Lord Hsieh. "Hsieh" literally means "Evil" in Mandarin.
- No Name Given: The genie rescued by Prince Jun is simply called The Magic Master.
- Only the Chosen May Wield: The enchanted Cool Sword belongs to an ancient warrior from centuries ago. The Prince earns the sword when he proves his resolve to destroy Lord Hsieh.
- Our Dwarves Are All the Same: Apart from the fact that they're played by Taiwanese actors, yes, they are the same.
- Our Genies Are Different: The Magic Master, a genie in an enchanted silver box retrieved by Prince Jun after the immortal battle, who becomes the prince's second companion after the fairy in battling Lord Hsieh.
- Orochi: Lord Hsieh summons a nine-headed dragon to terrorize the countryside. He will retrieve the dragon in exchange for the throne, but Prince Jun screws his plan over.
- Power Glows: In the climatic final duel, both Prince Jun's and Lord Hsieh's swords glows with energy as they fight.
- Recycled In Space: A Taiwanese take on the Snow White mythos, with a bunch of Wuxia stuff thrown in, a sidequest lifted from Journey to the West, an evil sorcerer and a genie from Arabian Nights and plenty of Hollywood-style high fantasy from The Neverending Story. It's as big of a Mind Screw as it can get.
- Religion of Evil: Worshipped by Hsieh and his wife, in the form of a deity called Ahn-Du. The effigies of Ahn-Du are the source of Hsieh's powers, and once Hsieh is Brought Down to Normal in the climax the effigies are shown exploding one by one.
- Sealed Good in a Can: The Magic Master is a powerful, yet benevolent genie that Prince Jun releases from a magic silver box.
- Spanner in the Works: Lord Hsieh's plans of usurping the throne involves unleashing a nine-headed dragon on the kingdom, which he will then capture alive for the Emperor in exchange for the throne. But he didn't expect Prince Jun to slay the dragon and gain himself the favours of the emperor, thereby screwing up Hsieh's modus operandi.
- Sword Beam: Prince Jun's Cool Sword and Lord Hsieh's BFG can fire energy blasts, which they consistently use in the final battle attempting to blast each other apart.
- Sword Fight: The climax of the film is a lengthy, fantasy-filled sword battle between Prince Jun's Cool Sword and Lord Hsieh's BFS, with tons of Wire Fu flying all over the place as both combatants exchange blows.
- The Usurper: Lord Hsieh seeks to take over the throne, and it's up to Prince Jun to stop him.
- Wall Master: While infiltrating Lord Hsieh's domain, Prince Jun had to battle a monster that lives in the fortress' walls, that manifests itself in the form of disembodied limbs that periodically lashes out from within the walls.