“Clans of Intrigue,” a 1977 martial arts film directed by Chor Yuen and starring Ti Lung (Master Thief Hsiang), Ku Feng in a small role as Master Leng Chiu-yun and Ling Yun as Yi Tien-hung aka Invisible Sword.
“Clans of Intrigue” features remarkable costumes, intricate art direction, and carefully constructed sets. However, one noticeable aspect was the divergent directorial styles employed during this era.
While Chang Cheh, a contemporary of Chor Yuen, often used dynamic handheld shots, bringing the camera intimately close to the action, Chor Yuen favored a distinct approach. His direction typically incorporated distant shots, emphasizing foreground and background elements. A standout moment included a lengthy tracking shot featuring Ti Lung and Ku Feng engaging in dialogue as they navigated through one of the film’s elaborate structures, showcasing Chor Yuen’s directorial choices.
The film’s narrative, though, can be likened to an elaborate “fetch quest.” Throughout the story, Ti Lung’s character embarked on a series of journeys, encountering numerous characters, each holding a fragment of information vital to the plot. These encounters frequently led to minor skirmishes, adding sporadic excitement. However, despite the film’s many intriguing elements, some viewers may have found themselves growing impatient during the viewing experience.
I couldn’t help but wonder if “Clans of Intrigue” drew its inspiration from literary sources, as its complex narrative and richly woven plot could suggest. Were there underlying roots in a novel or another medium that influenced the film’s structure? These questions prompted me to explore the film’s origins.