Review: Vengeance of the Phoenix Sisters (Taiwan 1968)

Subway Cinema’s 10th Old School Kung Fu Festival 2023

“We are big strong men. Why should we worry about three little girls?”

Oh, buddy, you should, you really should. This early Taiwanese wuxia about three separated sisters seeking revenge on the men who killed their parents (Stock Wuxia Plot #4) is pretty fun. The fight choreography is weak and the villains are under defined, but there are some fun twists on the usual plot tropes, for example, when one of the sisters disguises herself as a man, the other sisters start to fall for her! There’s also a terrific early scene at an inn that very much echoes the famous confrontation in Come Drink With Me, as the disguised Xiufeng enters a nest of vipers and must defeat them with both martial skills and wits.

For me, one of the most interesting aspects was watching a film shot in the Taiwanese dialect, might be only the second or third such film I’ve seen (Mandarin or Cantonese dubs being more common), I’m not a linguist and understand very little Chinese, but it has a more rounded and lower register, a little rougher on the ear.  

Playing as part of the Old School Kung Fu Festival.

Read my interview with Goran Topalovic of Subway Cinema about this year’s OSKFF here.

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