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Lady Whirlwind (1972) February 28, 2010

Posted by Cal in : 1970s films, Kung Fu , 2 comments

Director: Wong Fung  Main cast: Angela Mao Ying; Chang Yi; Pai Ying  Territory: Hong Kong

In 1972, the Golden Harvest studio was producing an abundance of cheap kung fu quickies, and Lady Whirlwind is a prime example of their typical output from the era.  Starring Angela Mao as an avenging spirit whose sister was wronged by the apparent carelessness of Ling Shih-Hao (Chang Yi) towards her sister.  However, Ling himself is after revenge on a gang of villains, and the two find themselves fighting on the same side despite past grudges.

Mao fighting Sammo.  A Young Wilson Tong is behind

Lady Whirlwind is undeniably cheap, but appears not to have been filmed in Hong Kong due to the obviously cold weather on the set.  It features a young Sammo Hung as a mid-level henchman with rather humorous muttonchop sideburns.  He directed the action scenes, and although the choreography is rather uninspired and basic, it is clear to see where he was heading.  The fight scenes are ambitious but don’t really have the ‘bang’ to excite the viewer, despite Mao’s evident enthusiasm and intensity.  Like the rest of the production, it appears that the fight scenes were shot in something of a hurry.

Another problem, for me at least, is that there was not nearly enough ambient noise in the sound mix.  I’ve no idea if this was present in the original print or is a product of the Fortune Star release, but the absence of almost all background noise is a real distraction.

However, Lady Whirlwind is not a complete write-off.  In fact, I thought it was quite enjoyable.  Don’t ask me why Chang Yi’s character (does anyone else think he looks remarkably like a young Wong In-Sik?) is being hunted by the villains of the piece, but there is some definite tension when Mao is added to the mix.  Maybe it was the bottle of wine I drank as I watched this, but the film got better and better as it went on.  And it’s a testament to the lasting appeal of Angela Mao (who, let’s face it, didn’t have that much of a stellar career, despite her potential) that this film has even seen the light of day in the digital age.

Creaky as it is, Lady Whirlwind is nevertheless fun to watch (and doubly so when under the influence), and has a couple of rather neat touches to it.  If you’re a fan of Mao, it’s likely you’ve already seen it, and if you’re not there are so many better films to recommend.  But if you catch it in the right mood, you might find yourself enjoying it.

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