The Chase (1971)

Directed by
Highly recommended
Reviewed by Simon on 2005-09-21

Even on a terrible quality full-screen DVD with missing footage, THE CHASE is one of the best swordplay films I've seen in a long time! It was easily a match for the Shaw Brothers films of the same period, and rivalled the magnificence of King Hu's work (ok, not quite on the level of A Touch Of Zen, but what is?). The plot is... complicated... so I won't try to summarise it beyond "A swordman is after the twin to his red sword, which holds the key to the identity of his father's killer", which really doesn't do it justice at all. It's a fine script though, and for once "complicated" doesn't mean "confusing" or just "confused".

The production values are as good as the Shaws films, showing that the fledgling Golden Harvest was already drawing top talent and making good use of it. Sets and costumes are a bit more gritty & realistic than the stylised Shaw Brothers look, with more filming on-location in natural light. This makes the film seem ahead of its time as wu xia go.

The action choreography is excellent (was it really Chen Kuan-Tai?), and there's a lot of it. There's some pretty fancy swordplay that creates the feeling of supernatural skill that King Hu developed, but with lots of blood and gore, in keeping with the times (on a similar level to The Rescue or Shadow Whip from the same year).

The direction from Wong Tin-Lam is flawless, essentially, and the whole cast give top notch performances (which Wong must take some credit for). It's fast paced and gripping, so the running time flies by (not that it's very long anyway) and packs plenty of impact. Just as a swordplay film should be!