Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Proud Youth (1978)

Lately I started to notice an actor named Wang Yu (not Jimmy Wang Yu), who appeared in several Liu Chia-liang movies. The rumor said that when Jimmy Wang Yu left Shaw Brothers in 1970, the studio owner was so angry that he hired a look-alike and had him play a parody of the former star. I must say that at first I was mistaken, but now I can tell the difference between two actors. You can actually see the year of the making to see which Wang Yu it was. Their names in Chinese characters are also different.

(L) Jimmy Wang Yu vs (R) Not Jimmy Wang Yu
The younger Wang Yu usually played a naughty kid. If the movie was not dubbed, but was in Cantonese, he could be even more annoying (in a funny way). For a kung-fu actor, I think he was good in acting and in delivery of his lines.

So it was interesting to see he played in this movie. The Proud Youth was based on Chin Yung novel 'The Smiling Proud Wanderer'. Wang Yu usually played proud characters, so this part should be easy for him. I only hoped he could be given more dialogues so he could practiced his fast mouth.

Every two years, sword clans of the Five Mountains gathered on the top of Mount Taishan. They are: Huashan Clan, Taishan Clan, Hingshan Clan, Hengshan Clan, and Songshan Clan. The younger clan members learned from competitions, while the chiefs selected a leader of the alliance.

The head student of Huashan Clan, Nangong Song, saved a young nun from Hao Jie-ying, a rapist. Nangong Song suffered grave injuries from this fight because Hao Jie-ying was a more skilled fighter than him and Song only won because of his quick wit and fast mouth. While the nun treated his injuries, other nuns saw them and reported 'the inappropriate conduct' to their teacher, the abbess of Hingshan Clan.

Nangong Song vs Hao Jie-ying. 'Do you want to try my Toilet Sword Style?'
Shi Zhong-ying from Hengshan Clan befriended Gao Yun from the evil clan, Sun Clan, because they both liked music. Shi Zhong-ying played flute and Gao Yun played khim. They both composed a tune together, called 'The Last Sound of the Empty Valley'.

Leng Ruo-jun from Songshan Clan, the new leader of the alliance, found out about the friendship and commanded Shi Zhong-ying to kill his friend. Shi Zhong-ying refused, so Leng Ruo-jun had all his family members killed. Shi Zhong-ying was wounded, but Gao Yun saved him. Together they played 'The Last Sound of the Empty Valley' before their deaths. Nangong Song who was being treated by the young nun heard the melody and came towards. Gao Yun gave him the sheet music, told him to pass it to a talented musician.

Huashan Clan's chief Luo Chao-jun punished Nangong Song for his inappropriate behaviour with the nun. The young man must face the wall for a year at Huashan's Cliff of Remorse. On this cliff Nangong Song found a hidden cave and learned the unbeatable Chongyang Nine Swords Style.

Learning Chongyang Nine Sword Style in a hidden cave
One year passed and being free again, Nangong Song gave the music sheet to Bai Ying-ying from the Sun Clan. When they first met he couldn't see her face and thought that she was an old woman.

Sheet music
Bai Ying-ying was the Sacred Lady from Sun Clan and because Nangong Song had given her a gift, people from the evil clan came to Huashan Clan to give wine to Nangong Song. They also held a party at Wuba Mound. The Huashan Clan's chief was angry that he kicked out Nangong Song from Huashan Clan.

Nangong Song sees Ying-ying's reflection in a river
Then Nangong Song help a guardian from the Sun Clan to free the Sun Clan's former chief, also Ying-ying's father, who had been locked in a dungeon for twelve years by the recent chief, Sima Wuji.

Shih Szu plays Bai Ying-ying
Sima Wuji had learn 'Plum Blossom Classics' on fighting styles and was actually matchless. Guardian Shi, Chief Bai, Nangong Song and Ying-ying surrounded him but he was stronger than the four of them. Finally Ying-ying and Nangong Song could kill him. In the book, even the 4 of them could not handle the enemy. Only by threatening Sima Wuji's lover, Ying-ying could trick him. But in this movie version, the lover had been killed before the four met Sima Wuji.

Sima Wuji becomes half man half woman after learning Plum Blossom Classics
Hao Jie-ying, the rapist, was also a hired assassin. Someone had paid him to kill the leaders of the four clans and the wife of the Huashan Clan's leader. Easy to guess who had paid him, right? Because only one man left to lead the alliance. Also, if you are familiar with the story you already knew who the bad guy was.

The location of the final fight was at a waterfall, so it was nice to watch. The location where Nangong Song fought Hao Jie-ying was also beautiful.

The final fight. Nangong Song vs Luo Chao-jun
I like Wang Yu as Nangong Song [although I think he was better in Swift Sword (1980)]. He was not convincing in romantic scenes (which were very rare in this movie. In the book, Lenghou Tiong - the original name for Nangong Song, was in love with his teacher's daughter, but she loved someone else. In this movie, she liked him but he only saw her as a sister), though, and maybe that was why the last scene which portrayed Bai Ying-ying talked to him was dialogue-less and the Shaw Brothers logo appeared, a sign that it was the end of the movie.

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