A corrupt government runs China during the mid-15th century. Power-hungry eunuch Zhao (Bai Ying) executes the innocent General Yu, and Yu’s family gets exiled. Zhao sends a delegation of his men to a remote outpost to intercept and kill them. But a few men (and one fierce woman) loyal to Yu also congregate at Dragon Gate Inn, including a righteous swordsman (Shih Chun) and a pair of travellers with lethal hidden skills.
Hu’s first film in Taiwan after leaving the studio system in Hong Kong was a box-office smash and remains a shining example of wuxia filmmaking, with archetypal characters, confident widescreen compositions and dazzling choreography. The inn (an impressive construction) brims with saloon-style showdowns and a good amount of comic action. With stylistic influences from Peking opera and gun-slinging westerns, Hu sets a high bar with his ominous central location and sweeping swordplay.