Revenge of the Iron-Fist Maiden (1972)

Rating: C-

Dir: Fei-Chien Wu
Star: Pin Chiang, Chia-Lin Sun, Chin-Feng Wang, Yuan Yi
a.k.a. Deadly Fists

I am a simple man. When I watch a film called Revenge of the Iron-fist Maiden, my demands are not great. All I ask is that it’s about a maiden, with iron fists, who is seeking revenge. I am entirely flexible on the nature of the revenge: the traditional “you killed my <relation>, and now you must die,” is fine by me. However, there’s a reason this is being reviewed here, and not on where would seem to be the obvious location for a film with this title, my Girls With Guns site. While there is a maiden √, with iron fists √ and who is seeking revenge √, she is not the focus of this movie. I regard this kind of thing very poorly.

It feels as if the distributors only watched the first ten minutes before coming up with their title (slapped onto the print along with a copyright date a good decade after its genuine release). Indeed, the first scene after the opening credits – which, incidentally, feature a copious and almost certainly unauthorized use of the theme from Shaft – sees Chi (Sun) coming across her dying father. With his last breath, he names his killer as a brigand called Yuan, and asks Chi to take revenge. She starts asking questions, but her inquiries reach the ears of the perpetrator, who dispatches a group led by a conveniently passing samurai, to end her investigation. Just when she’s about to suffer the same fate as her father, her fists being more balsa than iron, she’s rescued by conveniently passing good guy, Lu (Pin).

And this is where it all goes wrong, because Lu then becomes the focus of the remainder of the movie. Quite what Chi is up to all this time, is never explained. But it turns out that Lu is also on Yuan’s to-do list, because he possesses a treasure map, on which the bandit is keen to get his grubby paws. To that end, he sets up another scenario that will have Chi riding to the rescue. Only the woman he’ll be saving from a fate worst than being badly dubbed and pan-and-scanned to oblivion, is Yuan’s daughter. Shao (Wang), who has been tasked with finding the map. She instead falls for Lu, and indeed, becomes pregnant by him, which comes as a surprise both to him, and her father.

There’s certainly no shortage of combat, with the second half of the movie largely consisting of fights. However, the pan-and-scanning is not just obvious, it’s poorly done: at one point, the focus actually wobbles in the middle of screen, uncertain in which direction it should be scanning next. I think one of the brawls, around a mill, was somewhat imaginative, and at the end, Chi does shows up to help, as well as Shao. She’s now in possession of a baby, having gone rapidly from “not visibly pregnant” to “here’s your rug-rat” while off screen. The finale involves Lu holding back a mine truck with one hand, while carrying the child in his other. That’s not something you see every day, I guess?