This 1970 tale of two rival martial arts schools is a thoroughly average wuxia flick made all the more claustrophobic by the fact that every action scene seems to take place in the same two sets in one of the two schools!
The three sisters are played by Essie Lin Chia, Violet Pan, and Shen Yi and are up against the villain played by Lo Lieh. Lo Lieh *is* better at playing villains rather than heroes and here he brings a nice menace to an underwritten role. It doesn't hurt that his character has supernaturally powerful Qi and can move things around like a Jedi Knight.
Lee Wan Chung makes a great villain as well and the two schools fight over a magical sword (not very original).
The best sequences for me involved Essie Lin Chia who brought a kind of Chin Ping feistyness to her role. Seems the bad guys have a scarred and disfigured killer in their ranks called "Shadowless" who is an expert with throwing stars. In the course of one of the many skirmishes, Essie disguises herself as the hooded killer.
After that, she is captured and about to be executed by the Three Bullies but manages to charm them out of the deed with talk of their leader's treachery in the martial arts world (as well as promises of marrying the lead bully). It sounds more exciting than it is folks.
Look for Shaw regulars Yeung Chi Hing and Wong Chung Shun as well as Chang Yi as a pretty bland hero.
The final battle in a bamboo field at night is a nice touch and in this scene the hand of action choreographer Lau Kar-Leung is pretty obvious.
Finally the sisters come together to fulfill the promise of the title, dispatching Lo Lieh with three bamboo shafts.
If only the rest of the film had been as interesting.
You can order Swordswomen Three on DVD here.
[Photos: YesAsia/Celestial Pictures]