The 14 Amazons/Review
From The Grindhouse Cinema Database
Before I start this review I should point out a few things. 1) I'm a huge fan of Asian Cinema. 2) Martial Arts movies are my main vice. 3) I can, at times, be almost fanatical about Shaw Brothers films. Which probably means that I'm not the best person to give 14 Amazons an unbiased review. Having said all that, I'm under no illusions about the quality of films that have been released under the Asian Cinema/Martial Arts/Shaw Brothers banner.
For every The Kid With The Golden Arm there's a Sex Beyond The Grave,which was once described as the "Plan 9" of Shaw Brothers movies, but all in all I had high hopes for this film due to it being a Wuxia movie and,when they get it right,nobody does that formula better. That and I've always had a thing for Lily Ho.
The movie starts off with General Yang Tsung Pao defending the border against an invasion by the Western Xia An epic battle ensues (which you don't actually see) until at Golden Mountain he's ambushed and his troops are all but wiped out. Knowing that he is royally boned he dispatches his second and third in command, Chiao Ting Kuai and Meng Huai Yuan, to seek out The Grand Dame (his Grandmother) to ask for her help. After the usual Shaw Brothers melodramatic goodbye, "We should stay and fight by your side", "We refuse to go", "Oh alright,when you put it that way" sort of thing, he gathers the remainder of his army, about 8 people, and heads off to face his enemy the evil King Of Asia Tien Feng. This goes about as well as you would expect for The General and after he refuses to surrender, "No-one surrenders in the Yang family!", he and his men are chopped into tiny little pieces.
Back at the ranch aka The Grand Dames palace they're celebrating General Yang Tsung Pao birthday and looking forward to his imminent return (now THERE'S a party you wouldn't want to be at) when news reaches them from Chiao Ting Kuai and Meng Huai Yuan that the birthday boy won't be able to attend on account of him being dead. Cut to the Yang family mourning the death of The General only to receive a visit from Wang Qin the Majesty's right hand man who says "Sorry for your lose but we've decided to negotiate as there's noone left to defend us " This offends The Grand Dame and her many warrior woman who decide to hell with it, if you want something done do it yourself. So after a fight between Yang Wen Xuang and her mother to prove that they she's worthy of tagging along on this vendetta they head off to open up a whole can of whupp ass on Tien Feng and his army. And that pretty much what happens throughout the remainder of the film. From about the 49th minute onwards The Grand Dame and her 14 Amazons (though there really are way more than that) meet Tien Feng's Army head on in battle after battle and kick ass in the usual Shaw Brothers way, lots of sword play and red corn syrup blood by the gallon, culminating in a huge fight inside the camp of Tien Feng where he comes to a sticky end with a spear rammed through his stomach before he falls off a very high wall. No sequel for him then.
So that leaves just one question: Was it worth the two hours of my life I gave to it? Well, yes. It does everything that a good Shaw Brothers movie should. It's beautifully shot, the fights are excellent, there's plenty of the red stuff, the plot is pretty well developed and there's an interesting cameo from Bolo Yeung and if that's your thing then it's worth the time. Sure the pace can drop off in places during the opening 40 minutes or so but that's something that won't be new to Shaw Brothers fans and if you've never seen one of these movies before all I can say is stick with it, it get's better. As for me I'm off to sharpen my Quan Dao and find my own 14 Amazons. I wonder if Lily Ho's available....