How to Choose a Royal Bride (1985)

Directed by
A prototype Royal Tramp
Reviewed by Simon on 2023-08-27

Emperor Kangxi's mother tries to marry him with the daughter of an official, but she's too strong-willed to agree to an arranged marriage even if it is with the Emperor, so she dresses as a man and heads off to Jiang Nan to see the spring blossoms. As luck would have it, Kangxi also decides to head to Jiang Nan in disguise in search of adventure, and the two cross paths and quickly become firm friends.

The film is a classic Butterfly Lovers - He's A Woman, She's A Man sort of affair, with Derek Yee falling for a fresh-faced Joey Wang (in her second film) as an intellectual equal, unaware of her true gender. The plot is more of an episodic series of events though, only loosely connected by this throughline.

This feels even more like a prototype Stephen Chiau film than AMBITIOUS KUNG FU GIRL, not least because Wang Yu plays the character Chiau plays in the ROYAL TRAMP films, Wei Xiao Bao (from Jin Yong's The Deer And The Cauldron stories), and the film has a similarly irreverent tone and witty humour - albeit not delivered with the finesse of a Wong Jing script... did I really just write that?

There is not much of the over the top action that Tony Liu is best known for - there are a couple of brief fights that are fairly well choreographed, but comparatively restrained in comparison to the director's other films from the era (which most films are, to be fair). This was amongst the last films Shaw Brothers released, so it's possible the budget was tight, but the film is primarily focussed on comedy.