Break this movie in half with one part being the set-up, as rebels, spies and government officials in disguise all meet at the Spring Inn searching for a battle map. Then, tear it all to pieces, as secret identities are uncovered and all hell breaks loose. All of this filtered through the genius of director King Hu with action put together by Sammo Hung, then brought to life by five actresses who are as strong — or perhaps stronger — than any man, Hu Chin, Helen Ma, Angela Mao, Hsu Feng and Li Li-hua
On one side, Mongo general Lee Khan (Tien Feng) and his sister Lee Wan-erh (Hsu Feng). On the opposite, inn keeper Madam Wan (Li-hua) and several undercover fighters for the resistance who are acting as her waitresses: Hai Mu-tan (Angela Mao, who also made the astounding Hapkido and Lady Whirlwind), Shui Mi-tao (Hu Chin Hu) and Yeh Li-hsiang (Helea Ma).
All made in the time before A Touch of Zen was seen as pure genius and King Hu would work with Golden Harvest, the rivals to Shaw Brothers, making almost another version of his movie Dragon Inn. But that’s too simple, as this movie subverts expectation and gives every woman a strong role. Shot at the same time as The Valiant Ones, this has hand to hand combat that fits into the direction of martial arts cinema at the time while presenting tension as the two groups get closer to their inevitable conclusion, like The Hateful Eight but in another time and place, all with the gorgeous look that you expect from the films of Hu.
Want to see it for yourself?
You can watch The Fate of Lee Khan on Saturday, April 29 at 4:30 PM in Theater 1 and Sunday, April 30 at 4:30 PM in Theater 1 at Metrograph and Subway Cinema in New York City. It’s part of the 10th Old School Kung Fu Fest: Sword Fighting Heroes Edition from April 21-30, 2023!
Tickets are on sale right here!