The Sword And The Lute (1967)

Directed by
Good example of the genre
Reviewed by Simon on 2006-05-18

The problem with owning the most powerful weapons in the martial arts world is that people will want to take them off you - probably with violence. The families that have possession of the Phoenix Lute and the Invincible Sword find this out the hard way.

This loose second sequel to the classic Temple Of The Red Lotus features many of Shaw Brothers' top wu xia stars of the time, in something of an ensemble piece. I suppose Petrina Fung Bo-Bo, Yueh Hua and Lo Lieh probably have the most screen time overall, though the story shifts between different groups of characters, so they are often absent from the screen for quite a while. Jimmy Wang Yu, Chin Ping and Ivy Ling Po's parts are more like extended cameos.

It's quite a while since I watched TOTRL (it was in one of the first batches of the Celestial remasters), but it certainly made a good impression. I suspect that if I were to watch it again now it would probably receive a slightly lower rating - though it will always get points for being the film to kick-start the wu xia genre, even before Come Drink With Me. THE SWORD AND THE LUTE can't make that claim, since films in the style were churned out in huge numbers in the 2 intervening years. It's still one of the earlier ones though, and a good example of why this style of film was so popular. It's not quite a great example though, despite being generally well made. I wouldn't place it in the top tier of "essential viewing", but it's certainly worth a watch for fans of the genre and the cast.