Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters

1968 [CHINESE]


IMDb Rating 7.1 10 32

Keywords:   revenge, sister, swordplay

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Uploaded By: FREEMAN
April 03, 2022 at 09:45 PM



806.89 MB
chi 2.0
24 fps
1 hr 27 min
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Movie Reviews

Reviewed by morrison-dylan-fan 8 / 10

Revenge of the rising Phoenix sisters.

Originally planning to finish watching a bundle of festive movies, I was browsing Letterboxd late one night,and found outstanding recent reviews by BrianNaas and Jessica Yeung on a trio of restored obscure films from Taiwan, currently streaming for free.

Recently having seen the thrilling Taiwan Film Noir Six Suspects (1965-also reviewed) at the cinema, made me feel this this was the perfect time to put the X-Mas films aside, and see the Phoenix fly.

View on the film:

Behind the camera 20 times but the editor on 121 films (!) Hung-Min Chen makes his editing expertise a prominent element in his directing debut, from the first swing of a sword in the stunning opening sequence, where Chen & debut cinematographer Jui-Chang Huang move the camera in an extremely fluid fashion, which reflects the rapid attack movements of the bandits killing the parents.

Made on such a low budget that beams from car headlights had to be used during night shoots, Chen and Huang brilliantly keep the money issues off-screen, with a misty atmosphere that weaves the mythical Wuxia with the blunt edge of vengeance, as Chen covers the 15 year passage of time for the sisters from the murder with elegant, calm mountainside wide-shot, which are chopped down with mesmerizing hand-held camera moves on the thrilling Action set-pieces, landing on stark close-ups when the sisters unleash a killer move.

Simmering for vengeance over 15 years, the screenplay by debut writer Ko Chu intelligently holds back from rushing into the action, instead spending time wonderfully sketching the sharply contrasting personalities of the sisters, from the ticking time bomb Xiu Feng, (played by a great Yang Li-hua) to the quiet resilience of Chi, (played by a terrific Ching Liu) as the Phoenix sisters rise from the ashes.

Reviewed by Davian_X 7 / 10

A nice rediscovery

Unseen on Western shores for the last half century, VENGEANCE OF THE PHOENIX SISTERS makes its Stateside debut in a recent restoration by the Taiwan Film Institute that's well worth checking out.

The plot is pretty standard martial arts / swordplay shenanigans, with three escaped bandits slaughtering a constable and his wife in the opening who they've determined were responsible for their arrest. The family's servants make off with the couple's three daughters, and the bandits neglect to hunt them down on the belief that they're harmless children. Of course, fifteen years later the sisters are kids no more, and, though they've been separated, each has sworn an oath of vengeance against her parents' killers. In short order, all three are drawn back together at an inn and set out to fulfill their mutual quest.

Though not terribly novel, the plot is uncomplicated and functional, with characterization similarly kept to a minimum. Where the film excels is in crafting an otherworldly mise-en-scene out of its sparse resources. The opening siege on the family's household, for example, is rendered in almost impressionistic abstraction, with abundant foley of running feet, whooshing robes, and slashing swords substituting for a more direct focus on movement. Most action takes place in near darkness, with the foreground characters starkly illuminated against barren courtyards or deserted forests that melt into inky blackness. It's martial arts spectacle by way of the '60s underground, and in contrast to the more polished work of studios like the Shaw Brothers, the verite brutalism on display here is arresting and impressive.

The film strikes an acceptable balance between these two modes, moving from meat-and-potatoes dialogue scenes to attack montages of striking abstract beauty. In particular, a focus on barely glimpsed movement – flying leaps depicted by jumps and landings, for example – seems to presage the visual experimentation of King Hu in films like A TOUCH OF ZEN. While the relative lack of character development and generic plot do work against the film to a degree (it still feels long, even at a brisk 88 minutes), the almost noirish poetry of its action scenes more than makes up for it. If the recent restoration makes it to your city, it's well worth making a trip out to see. And if not – pray that a DVD or Blu-ray hits US shores soon.

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