Cave of the Silken Web ★★★½

SIFF 2015

An impressive collection of legs.

Transitional film for the Shaws, half a huangmei musical, half an action film. Not a state-of-the-art swordplay film in the style King Hu and Chang Cheh were making in 1967, but an older more theatrical kind of action, aided by a none too subtly sped up camera and special effects pioneered by Méliès. This was part of a series of films director Ho Meng-hua made adapting stories from Journey to the West. The first two featured Cheng Pei-pei and this one could have used someone of her star-caliber. Angela Yu Chien as the villainous and kind of slutty Third Sister (the one in red) is the best we get. Without a real standout performer, the focus is instead on the narrative, an impressive tangle of schemes and deceptions that effectively conveys the spirit of the novel, at least as much as I've read of it, within a wildly colorful Shaw soundstage.