Funimation // 1971 // 97 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 15th, 2011
She'll teach you a thing or two about bloodshed.
Funimation has another treat from the Shaw Brothers vault, The Lady Hermit; a weirdly schizophrenic, female-fronted saga about revenge, swordplay, and a love triangle. Because, as we all know, no matter how badass your female heroes are, those pesky hormones are going to turn on them when a cute boy walks into the room.
Cheng Pei-Pei is the titular hermit, a reclusive martial arts master who has been working tirelessly to perfect her new, incredible Tiger move. Her one goal: to face down and best the fearsome Black Knight, a glowering head of a fearsome cabal who tears his victims apart with his two-inch long Lee Press-On Nails of Murder.
Meanwhile, an eager student seeks out the Lady Hermit to convince LH to take her on as a disciple. She's skilled in hand-to-hand combat and is money in the bank with a bullwhip. And when she finally tracks down LH, she couldn't be happier: she's about to realize her dream and learn from her hero. Then her boyfriend starts making the googly-eyes at the Lady Hermit and screw that tramp!
Yes, eventually we do get to a Lady Hermit versus Black Knight throwdown and it's pretty fun, with many evildoers getting sliced and diced and the trademark Shaw Brothers V8 blood flying liberally. But by that time, I fear, it's too late.
It's that damned love triangle rubbish, a moronic plot contrivance that cheapens the up-to-that-point fierceness of the women pugilists. The Hermit largely rises above the soap opera hullabaloo, thus preserving some of the niftiness of the big fight at the end, but her disciple, who is arguably the central character, goes from ferocious and independent man-slayer to envy-plagued crybaby at the first sight of her beau frolicking with LH in the woods. Also, her bullwhip skills are severely underwhelming.
As ridiculous as this bit of scripting is, there is fun to be had with The Lady Hermit. That Shaw Brothers charm is evident throughout, with over-the-top heroes, blowhard villains and a non-stop cadre of stuntmen willing to get thrown around and faux-stabbed. The finale is a memorable slab of violence.
The DVD: a very nice 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer, two mono tracks (Mandarin and English) and no extras.
Guilty of knee-capping kung-fun feminism.
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Scales of Justice
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
* Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Mandarin)
Running Time: 97 Minutes
Release Year: 1971
MPAA Rating: Not Rated