Issue #269            HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES            June 27th, 2005

The Deadly Breaking Sword
(1979; Shaw Brothers)

Cantonese: Fung lau duen gim siu siu dou
Mandarin: Feng liu duan jian xiao xiao dao
English: Elegant Breaking Sword Little Dagger


  RATING: 7/10


Known as "The Deadly Breaking Sword," matchless swordsman Tuan Changqing (Ti Lung) certainly lives up to his nickname, breaking off an inch of his blade in the body of every opponent he defeats. A duel with halberd-wielding Lian San (Michael Chan Wai-man) leaves both men injured, the latter gravely. Meanwhile, irrepressible gambler Xiao Dao (or "Little Dagger," played by Alexander Fu Sheng) has gotten himself so deeply in debt, he must work for casino owner Luo Jinhua (Lily Li Li-li) until the money has been repaid. Sneaking to the brothel next door to get a peek at new prostitute Liu Yinxu (Shih Szu), Xiao Dao is apprehended by Tuan, who believes him to be a thief. Yinxu reveals to Tuan that a neighboring physician and philanthropist (Ku Feng) is actually a fiend known as "The Killer Doctor," but the swordsman is not convinced. The impulsive and money-obsessed Xiao Dao is, however, leading to another encounter with Lian, who has survived Tuan’s blade fragment.

Ti Lung Alexander Fu Sheng

Director Sun Chung (THE AVENGING EAGLE) occasionally spices up the action with freeze frames as a way of highlighting certain split second moves, and Tong Gai/Tang Chia’s action choreography is often exciting and amusingly creative (particularly Xiao Dao’s unique response to Lian’s declaration of "The Longer, the Stronger"). The premise relies on a slightly watered down verison of the old revenge hook, but most of the performances are focused enough to keep the viewer interested in the story, while the combat and attractive settings do the rest. On a somewhat disappointing note, female co-stars Li, Shih, and Kara Hui Ying-hung play straight dramatic roles, doing no fighting whatsoever, and those bothered by Fu’s broad style will find his antics here (including an early Monkey King imitation) hard to take, though they are appropriate for the character. Rounding out a solid cast are Ha Ping (as the brothel madam), Eddy Ko Hung, Chan Shen, Yuen Wah, and Jamie Luk Kim-ming.

Shih Szu Ku Feng


Another nice restoration, with very good clarity, detail, and color. The image briefly goes in and out of focus during one shot, presumably an irreparable fault in the materials. The remix includes some new foley FX and, while not as annoying as some of these 5.1 tracks, it is often pointless. The standard Celestial extras are included. A note for those with Progressive Scan monitors: this disc (and apparently all of the other Celestial titles) has not been flagged for Progressive Scan and will not display properly when viewed in this manner.

Michael Chan Wai-man Ti Lung (left), Alexander Fu Sheng

This DVD is available at:

Images in this review courtesy of Intercontinental Video Ltd. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

Click here for more information about The Hong Kong Filmography

Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- Hong Kong Release

- NTSC – Region 3 Only

- Intercontinental Video Ltd. #104879

- Dolby Digital 5.1

- Post-synced Cantonese and Mandarin Language

- Subtitles (Optional): English, Traditional Chinese

12 Chapters

16:9 Enhanced (2.35:1)

101 Minutes


- Ontario: R

Singapore: PG

Contains brutal violence and some coarse language

10 A Masterpiece
9 Excellent
8 Highly Recommended
7 Very Good
6 Recommended
5 Marginal Recommendation
4 Not Recommended
3 Poor
2 Definitely Not Recommended
1 Dreadful