Carlo's Cream of the Crud: The Vengeful Beauty (1978)
Introducing Cream of the Crud, a brand new CHUD Buddies feature. Watch my video about The Vengeful Beauty (1978), a proto-girls with guns movie.
The Vengeful Beauty is a 1978 martial arts/exploitation movies produced by the Shaw Brothers Studio. Directed by Ho Meng-hua, it’s a sort of semi-sequel to his Flying Guillotine from 1976. It stars Chen Ping as the titular Vengeful Beauty, who is forced into hiding as she plots her revenge on the emperor’s secret flying guillotine death squad–the guys responsible for murdering her husband. Some other, more well-known faces in this in the form of Lo Lieh, who plays the leader of the flying guillotine squad, and Norman Chu, who acts as one of the Vengeful Beauty’s two romantic interests/comrades along the way. For fans of the Golden Harvest era of Hong Kong cinema, both Yuen Biao and Corey Yuen show up (albeit anonymously), as members of the flying guillotine squad in the bamboo forest showdown.
I really dug this movie, I like it more than the original Flying Guillotine for a number of reasons: first, I think the pace is better. It doesn’t need a lot of time to set up the plot, it never slows down once things take off. There’s also the fact the Vengeful Beauty is pregnant for most of the movie, which adds a lot of urgency and tension to it all. You do get less flying guillotine kills, but the overall tone feels more like an exploitation movie in that it is slightly trashier in a good way. There’s even some nudity which is not a thing you’d see very often in these kinds of movies, and says something about the tone this is going for.
What I especially liked about The Vengeful Beauty was the fact it felt to me like a proto-girls with guns movie. Assuming those guns are allowed to be fists and in this particular case: an extendable spear. Of course in these Shaw Brothers movies you rarely ever had guns since most of them are period pieces, but it’s still about a tough as nails lady who beats the crap out of everyone while pregnant, so I thought that was pretty cool. Of course the girls with guns subgenre which would skyrocket between the ‘80s and ‘90s with people such as Michelle Yeoh, Cynthia Rothrock, Moon Lee, Yukari Oshima, and many others.
Overall I’m a fan of Ho Meng-hua, especially when I think back on trash classics such as The Oily Maniac and The Mighty Peking Man, which is a Chinese King Kong rip-off I talked about before in my article on King Kong movies. So the fact that I liked this so much didn’t really come as a surprise to me. But I do think when you put this up against the more traditional, original Flying Guillotine, Ho does more fun things visually in terms of composition and color in The Vengeful Beauty. Which, in combination with an improved sense of urgency and a female lead, put this way more in my personal wheelhouse.