Trail of the Broken Blade is a 1967 wuxia martial arts film from Shaw Brothers, directed by Chang Cheh and starring Jimmy Wang Yu, the second of three collaborations between Chang and Jimmy (released between One-Armed Swordsman and The Assassin (1967)).
When an impulsive swordsman, Li-yue (Jimmy), kills an official responsible for his father's death, he's forced to abandon his fiancee Liu Chen-erh (Chin Ping) and most of his allies to go on the run. Meanwhile, a powerful bandit leader, Chief Tu, is terrorizing the martial arts world with his legion of killers. Travelling the martial arts world as a wandering swordsman, Li will inevitably end up confronting Chief Tu in his island hideout for a climatic final battle.
Trail of the Broken Tropers...
- Action Girl: Liu Chen-erh, a swordswoman and Li-yue's fiancee, who relentlessly searches for him after he had changed his name to evade the authorities.
- Action Prologue: Li-yue's opening assasination, where he kills a corrupt official responsible for his father's death (via Slashed Throat) and then slaughtering his way out past several guards before escaping.
- Agonizing Stomach Wound: Part of Li-yue's Mortal Wound Reveal near the end. After killing Chief Tu, the camera then pans downwards to show that Li-yue was fatally slashed through the gut as well. He didn't make it past the credits.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: At the end of the film, after Li-yue succumbed to his injuries, there is a shot of his soul rising into the sky while looking downwards at the carnage in the island. Achieved by using wires to lift Jimmy Wang-yu upwards and using negative exposure to make Wang-yu appear semi-transparent.
- Booby Trap: The Big Bad Chief Tu Qian Qiu's base is loaded with several of these, including pitfalls, spike traps, and descending ceilings.
- Co-Dragons: Besides Chief Tu, there are two other mook leaders, a spear-fighter clad in yellow, and a shield-fighter clad in red, both whom are Chief Tu's personal guards. In their first scene, they get to battle a handful of challengers who tries to confront Chief Tu on his island, only to kill all the challengers in a brutal, gory manner after an extensive battle scene.
- Giant Mook: One of Chief Tu's Mook Lieutenant is a huge, balding quasi-ogre of a man who uses dual spiked maces and is strong enough to smash rocks by swinging his weapon randomly. He still ends up being one of the many kills under Li-yue's blade by the end of the film.
- I Have a Family: When Fung Jun-zhao and Liu Chen-erh made their way to Chief Tu's island hideout, killing several mooks in the process, the last mook said this trope when pleading for his life. Fung Jun-zhao promises to spare said mook if he'll lead them to Chief Tu, but along the way the mook ends up triggering a pitfall trap meant for intruders killing himself in the process.
- In a Single Bound: This being a Wuxia film, plenty of characters can fly across the air thanks to some rather convincing wireworks. For Li-yue, he managed to leap upwards from a few meters underwater (somehow...) onto a boatload of surprised mooks, which he kills in seconds before leaping to the island's mainland.
- Island Base: Chief Tu's hideout is located on an island, which Li-yue infiltrates by hiding on a fishing boat and diving into the water when a boatload of mooks comes over to investigate. He then swims towards the mooks' vessel, kills everyone aboard, and makes his way into the island.
- Meaningful Rename: After killing the corrupt official in the opening scene, Li-yue officially changes his name to Jiang-qi, an alias he uses for the entirety of the film.
- Mirrored Confrontation Shot: In the final battle between Li-yue and Chief Tu, one shot near the end of their battle has both combatants framed in this manner.
- Mutual Kill: The final confrontation between Li-yue and Chief Tu ends in this manner, with Li-yue slashing Chief Tu dead, before succumbing to an injury through his gut.
- Run the Gauntlet: In the finale, after killing the first horde of mooks on the beach, Li-yue have to battle plenty of additional mooks, led by Chief Tu's Mook Lieutenant team. Firstly the spear-fighter / shield-fighter Co-Dragons duo, then the fighter who wields a spiked mace, and a huge Giant Mook, before confronting Chief Tu.
- White Shirt of Death: In the final battle, Li-yue wears white entirely (see the above lobby card?). Take a guess if he survives this movie. Okay, so he didn't, but he gets a Dying Moment of Awesome with over 70 dead by his sword, including most of the villains.