Swallow is technically the 1968 follow-up to Come
Drink With Me, the seminal work directed by King Hu,
and it does feature Cheng Pei-Pei reprising her role as
Xie Ru-Yan, the Golden Swallow. But as far as sequels go,
this one is a little iffy. Sure, the film begins with our
heroine befriending Golden Whip Han Tao (Lo Lieh) and Flying
Fox Hu Zhen (Wu Ma), but truth be told, Golden Swallow is
little more than a supporting character in her own film.
Instead, the spotlight shines on
top-billed Jimmy Wang Yu and his character Master Xiao Pang,
more famously known as Silver Roc to the film's general
populace. Dressed in white and sporting a silver sword,
Roc was orphaned at a young age when his parents were murdered.
Training under the same master as Golden Swallow, Silver
Roc learns martial arts, including his sifu's super-secret
and totally unblockable move and takes revenge on his parents'
killers. Not content to stop there, Silver Roc goes on to
slaughter the bandits' entire families. Vengeance was most
Apparently, Silver Roc seldom spoke
back during his training, except to Golden Swallow, a woman
with whom he now longs to be reunited - although he does
spend ample time in whorehouses to bide his time. Yet, rather
than ask his beloved out to dinner, Silver Roc instead gallivants
across the countryside, killing evildoers in her name and
leaving behind Golden Swallow's darts at the crime scene
in order to draw her out. Not exactly the most romantic
of gestures, but the strategy works.
When Golden Swallow and friends
finally catch up with Silver Roc, they try to convince him
to ease up on all the freelance killing, but to no avail.
It's here where elements of a love triangle start to emerge
as Han Tao and Silver Roc begin heading towards their climactic
duel to the death. Who does Golden Swallow truly love? And
will she tell the right guy in time? And what the heck are
they going to do when the comrades of all the bad guys Silver
Roc killed start showing up? Decisions, decisions.
Despite all this talk of romance,
Golden Swallow isn't all about love, peace, and understanding.
For a film all about unrequited love, it sure has a lot
of disembowelment, flagellation, self-disembowelment, impalement,
multiple stab wounds, and the like. This is a flick where
folks are drawn, quartered, guillotined, and burned alive,
all in that trademarked gory Chang Cheh style. The film's
climax is noteworthy in that it centers on a character that
just…won't…die! After convincing the other heroes to leave,
one characterwho by all rights should be dead alreadytakes
on a horde of enemies all by his lonesome, achieving a level
of martyrdom not seen outside of a Mel Gibson flick!
But to be slightly more serious
for a second, it's a shame that Cheng Pei-Pei was forced
to take a backseat to the male characters in the film. It
would have been nice for her to really "star" in the picture,
but even so, what's given to us instead isn't bad at all.
Jimmy Wang Yu does a heck of a job in the role of Silver
Roc, imbuing his character with all sorts of intensity,
panache, and all-around bad-assery (if that's a word). If
you want female empowerment, look elsewhere. But if you
want a cool as ice killing machine in that old school Shaws
style, Golden Swallow may just be the flick you're
looking for. (Calvin McMillin 2004)