Clans of Intrigue (1977)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a freelance ghostwriter of personal memoirs and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Someone has killed the three most powerful clan leaders in the Martial world. Legendary swordsman Chu Liu Hsiang (Ti Lung) has been accused of murdering the leaders of the three most powerful clans in the Martial world. Together with a mercenary named Yi (Ling Yun) and the chivalrous Black Pearl (Li Ching) he sets out to find the real killers. He must uncover the truth behind a plot before the culprits can frame him and gain absolute power.   

Hsiang follows one clue to the next and is eventually led to the Magic Palace, a place inhabited by a bunch of hot bi-sexual princesses. Had this been a category 3 film, Hsiang would have been extremely distracted. Instead, Hsiang discovers the identity of the (also non-binary) real killer. Along the way, he also uncovers a dangerous plot to gain control of the entire Martial world. 

Clans of Intrigue was made by the same team that made The Magic Blade is once again turns to a classic novel for its source material. But, Clans is lighter on action and heavier on narrative twists than it is predecessor. That’s not to say that there aren’t some great fights. This is, after all, a Shaw Brothers’ movie starring Ti Lung. The sword fights and Kung Fu are top notch. But, the overall emphasis is on finding the identity of the killer and aborting their evil plan. The writing is especially good with regards to all the double crosses between Princess Yin Chi (Pei Tei) and Kung Nan-Yen (Nora Miao) towards the end of the film.

True to form for a Shaw Bros. picture, the Shawscope visuals are vibrant with color and texture. The sets are lush and detailed and the costumes are particularly lavish in this film. Everyone looks perfect. Even when they’re fighting, not a hair falls out of place. 

If there ever was a reason to purchase a Region-Free DVD player in the early 2000s, the Celestial Pictures distribution of many of the Shaw classics was it. If you’re just starting to explore their catalog, Clans of Intrigue should be among your first purchases. 

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