A group of rebels taking on the Jin invaders during the Southern Song Dynasty are led by the Iron Mistress (Han Hsiang-Chin) and Wei Shing (Pai Ying). Another revolutionary named Hsin Tsuan (Chien Tsao) says that she may be a strong fighter and able to gather an army, but she has no plan. He offers to be the brains, but Wei Shung feels like he could be playing not just his leader, but the object of his unrequited affection.

Yet according to the actual history of China, Hsin Tsuan is supposed to be Xin Qiji, who wrote under the name Jiaxuan. He became a fighter to gain a measure of revenge against the Jin and had a twenty-year career of military service. He then retired and began writig ci, which are porms written to match existing melodies. He constructed more than six hundred of these poems and became widely admired and imitated for his skill with words, not just swords.

Here is one:

Partridge Sky

When I was young

I waved a flag to lead a thousand soldiers

horses too

how my men

fashioned arrows

of silver at night

they brought

down the moon

now the enemy owns it

I come back

I’m nobody

now thinking of the past

how one

sighs to be neglected

Spring won’t bring back the black to my bread

you can’t imagine the tracts I wrote on tactics for this country

In return I’m given this poor field bent mattock

and some weather-worn to me titled “how to grow tree”

Directed by Tsun-Shou Sung and written by Shih-Ching Yang, this has a lot of growth in the film for all of its characters to go along with the swordplay.

Want to see it for yourself?

You can watch Iron Mistress is an online only movie at the 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition from April 21-30, 2023! Tickets are on sale right here!

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