Newest Reviews
Devil to Pay, The
Lost in London
Divorce Italian Style
Salon Kitty
Charles, Dead or Alive
Gretel and Hansel
Tunnel, The
India Song
Last Rhino, The
Made in Hong Kong
Ring of Spies
Rom Boys: 40 Years of Rad
Pocketful of Miracles
The Tomb: Devil's Revenge
Sidecar Racers
Space Dogs
Safety Last!
Bride Who Has Returned from Hell, The
Show Boat
City Called Dragon, A
I Used to Go Here
Six Suspects
Still the Water
Not Now, Comrade
I'm Thinking of Ending Things
Wives of the Skies
Two Heads Creek
Next Stop, Greenwich Village
Captain, The
Great Wall, A
Trout, The
Zorba the Greek
Horror Crowd, The
Matthias & Maxime
Newest Articles
Wives of the Skies: Honey Lauren Interview
To Catch a Thief: After the Fox on Blu-ray
Tackling the Football Film: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery on Blu-ray
Film Noir's Golden Couple: This Gun for Hire on Blu-ray
The Doctor Who Connection: Invasion on Blu-ray
Hill's Angles: Benny Hill and Who Done It? on Blu-ray
Big Willie Style: Keep It Up Downstairs on Blu-ray
Walt's Vault: 5 Cult Movies on Disney+
Paradise Lost: Walkabout on Blu-ray
Buster Makes Us Feel Good: Buster Keaton - 3 Films (Volume 3) on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 3 - Don't Go Away - I Could Do with a Bit of Cheer Now!
What Use is Grief to a Horse? Equus on Blu-ray
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
  Secret of the Dirk, The There will be blood
Year: 1970
Director: Hsu Cheng-hung
Stars: Ching Li, Chang Yi, Shu Pei-Pei, Tien Feng, Helen Ma Hoi-Lun, Wang Hsieh, Cliff Lok, Wong Ching-Ho, Chiu Hung, Fang Mian, Goo Man-Chung, Hao Li-Jen, Jen Man-Jing, Lam Jing
Genre: Martial Arts, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Ming Chu (Ching Li) is dazzling friends with her acrobatic kung fu when along rides the town elder Madame Liu (Lam Jing), mortally wounded by the evil Black Tiger Gang. On her deathbed Madame Liu recounts how long ago, bandit Pai Tien Wang lay siege to their city prompting General Liu Tsing (Fang Mian) to nobly sacrifice himself so his subjects could escape safely, while second-in-command General Liu Hai Te (Wong Ching-Ho) was entrusted with the city’s fortune in jewels. Now years later, the townsfolk have seen nothing of their treasure or General Hai Te, though Ming Chu suspects his daughter Qing Qing (Shu Pei-Pei) has some clue.

Qing Qing, a sweet girl with no knowledge of her past, is accosted by bare-chested Black Tiger thugs, whose mysterious, bird-loving leader manipulates events from his shadowy, Bond villain lair. Riding to Qing Qing’s rescue comes dashing hero Zhong Ying Long (Chang Yi), a lethally skilled swordsman who wields four blades at once, with whom she is instantly smitten. However, Ming Chu pops up alongside her colour-coded sisters Xiao Lan (Helen Ma Hoi-Lun) and Xiao Ehr (Jen Man-Jing) and kid brother Hsiao Ying (Cliff Lok), to kidnap Qing Qing again! Furthermore, Zhong is a little disconcerted to unmask one of the Black Tiger group as Wan Tai Zhi (Chiu Hung), his fellow disciple at the Da Law Martial Arts School.

Though seldom heralded by English-speaking fans, Hong Kong critics rank Hsu Cheng-hung among the key figures in Mandarin cinema. Born in 1935, Hsu apprenticed at other studios before joining Shaw Brothers as a cinematographer, screenwriter and assistant director. Upon being promoted to director, he delivered the studio’s first significant martial arts epic Temple of the Red Lotus (1964) along with fan-favourites like King Cat (1967), The Silver Fox (1968) and The Thundering Sword (1967) which marked the screen debut of his frequent leading man, Chang Yi. The Secret of the Dirk was Hsu’s penultimate film after which he supervised the Chinese version of Zatoichi vs. the One-Armed Swordsman (1971), then migrated to Taiwan where he started his own film company.

Hsu crafts a compelling story with pleasing twists and turns, though things do take a while to grow clear being overly reliant on flashbacks to answer the myriad mysteries. In his hands the serial-like plot unfolds through noticeably subtle acting, instead of the broad theatrical gestures common to this genre, which anticipates the revisionist likes of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Ching Li makes a splendidly feisty young heroine and her banter-filled relationship with Chang Yi’s morally upright hero is nicely drawn. Li had been acting since age six when venerable Shaw filmmaker Chang Cheh noticed she had a rare beauty suitable for both classical and contemporary film roles. She was also a favourite of Chu Yuan, who cast her in over twenty of his films including the much beloved House of 72 Tenants (1972).

The action is consistently brisk and exciting, with the bloody finale proving the most suspenseful set-piece. Yet for such a seemingly light-hearted movie, this blithely massacres two-thirds of its cast before the painfully poignant fadeout.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam


This review has been viewed 2878 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

Review Comments (0)

Untitled 1

Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg


Last Updated: