Notable Cast: Lily Ho Li-Li, Chang Yu, Huang Chung-Hsin, Yue Wai, Helen Ma Hoi-Lun, Tien Feng, Chiu Sam-Yin, Chiu Hung, Ma Ying, Lee Ho, Fan Mei-Sheng, Hung Lau
My expectations for The Silver Fox were mixed. The mid 60s for Shaw Brothers is a time where the studio was still finding their voice and approach to what they wanted to do as a film company, but by 1968, when The Silver Fox was released, the studio was starting to crank out some solid films in the wake of The One-Armed Swordsman and Golden Swallow so I wasn’t quite sure what kind of film that this one was going to be. In what seems to be a fitting manner, The Silver Fox is ultimately a little of both. There are moments where this film reaches some of the fun heights that this era of Shaw Brothers can hit, but it’s also dragging in some of its romantic melodrama and a bit inefficient in weaving its tale of revenge. Still, as a wuxia, The Silver Fox is a fun film with a lot of great treats for fans and worth the time.
It all comes down to a gold plaque. With one of the biggest security bureaus hired to make sure the plaque gets to its destination, rumors start to float down that a legendary bandit, The Silver Fox (Lily Ho Li-Li), is already poised to steal it. When the question of why arises, it may come down to a conspiracy and familial feud with the security office’s boss that means to leave a trail of dead bodies in the wake. Only a young prince, offering his help to transport the plaque, can unravel the mystery.
|Gather round for some ass kicking.|
The second act, however, is not nearly as effective or entertaining as the first and third. Setting up the main plot with the golden plaque and the characters for each side tends to drag out a bit too long and focus too much on the melodramatic romantic subplot that doesn’t resonate nearly as well as it should between Silver Fox and the young prince. While the casting here is still beneficial to the whole and that cast gives their best in performance, it tends to take too long in setting up the connections between the first and third act to really move at the entertaining pace it needs to carry the momentum. There are certainly fun moments including how damn near everyone in the film gets poisoned at one point or another or how Silver Fox escapes capture in one of the strangest manners possible, but it spends too much time developing the romantic plot that doesn’t feel natural or all that meaningful to make it all work. Director Hsu Tseng-Hung tried this same structure with his Red Lotus Temple trilogy, taking three films to really cover the entire story, and while it comes off as much more entertaining and efficient than that, it still suffers from this kind of stage play theatrics that don’t mesh with the over the top action tones of the opening and ending.
|Gather round for some more ass kicking.|
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