The Sad Archer (Chinese: 難過弓箭手; pinyin: Nánguò gōngjiàn shǒu) is a 1970 Tsengian historical drama action film directed by Robert Lu and written by Lu and Josh Huan. It stars Oliver Liu, Sophie Tang, Yuan Chih-wei, and Hong Hui. The film is about a Ming archer, who, after being promoted to being a general, gets addictied to drugs, and sees his whole world come crashing down as a result.
The film kickstarted Robert Lu's career and broke records at the box office. It received mixed reviews by critics initially, but has since been re-evaluated and is considered one of the best Tsengian historical films.
In 1641, Nanjing, during the transition from Ming to Qing, Ming archer Zhiqiang is promoted to general, and will lead a regiment in a fight against the invaders. To celebrate his promotions, Zhiqiang's friends and wife have a huge party with excessive amounts of drinking. Unbeknownst to Zhiqiang, one of his rivals, Moguai, who is jealous of Zhiqiang's promotion, is at the party, and mixes a drug (meth) with a drink. The meth is so mixed that a person can't tell if it's been tampered or not. Moguai leaves and Zhiqiang drinks the meth drink.
The next few weeks, Zhiqiang is trained for his new position. After 10 weeks, he leads the Archery regiment and is deployed to stop Li Zicheng and his rebels in Shaanxi. Zhiqiang, who is beginning to show signs of drug addiction, abandons his post and runs to the nearby city of Xi'an, where he purchases some drugs. His regiment is lost and confused without a commanding officer and they lose the battle.
As the rebels and the Qing inch closer to Beijing, Zhiqiang leads his regiment to attack again. At this time, he can no longer lead and is dependent on drugs. Zhiqiang is set to be executed by the Ming emperor but the Qings take Beijing before the emperor can execute him. However, the Qings still want to punish Zhiqiang, and somehow Zhiqiang escapes before the Qings can get him.
Zhiqiang, now a old homeless drug addict, arrives at his wife and children's place. His wife is horrified and runs away, only to be Zhiqiang, depressed, runs to his friend, Yang Guozhi's house. Because Zhiqiang is unrecognizable from the day of the party, Yang thinks Zhiqiang is a burglar and kills him.
- Oliver Liu as Zhiqiang, the protagonist.
- Sophie Tang as Yong Meihua; Zhiqiang's wife.
- Yuan Chih-wei as Moguai; the antagonist and person that started Zhiqiang's addiction. Moguai's name is the pinyin for Mogwai, which means "monster" in Cantonese.
- Hong Hui as Yang Guozhi; a friend of Zhiqiang and the one that kills him
- Eric Ju-wang as Jinhai; a friend of Zhiqiang.
- Han Wang-wei as Archery Teacher
- Guo Li-wei as Li Zicheng; famous Chinese rebel and emperor of the short-lived Shun Dynasty.
- Li Mei as Lihua; one of Zhiqiang's daughters
- John Lu as Ming Court Judge
- Joseph Hua as Hong Taiji, the founding emperor of the Qing dynasty
- Ava Ming as Wang Fang, one of Zhiqiang's daughters.
- Harold Kan as Chongzhen Emperor, the last emperor of the Ming dynasty.
- Da Hu as Xi'an Drug Dealer
Robert Lu said he always wanted to do a historical drama film. In 1966, when he read Downfall, a history book of the Ming-Qing transition period, Lu got inspired and met with Josh Huan, a friend and screenwriter, to make a film depicting the fall of the Ming dynasty. The draft was changed to a Ming archer that was addicted to drugs watch his world fall apart. Filming began in 1968 in Beijing, Tianjin, Xi'an, Shaanxi, and various real-life battle locations of the Ming vs rebels and Qing, like the Battle of Song-Jin. It ended in mid-1969.
The Sad Archer was released on VHS on May 18, 1988. It debuted on Blu-ray in 2010 for the film's 40th anniversary.
The Sad Archer grossed T¥20 million at the box office, dethroning the previous film, The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl, a 1957 film, becoming the highest-grossing film in Tsengian history. It grossed T¥15.2 million in Tseng, and T¥1.2 million in the United States and Canada.
Upon its release on January 6, 1970, the movie received mixed reviews from critics. However, it has since been re-evaluated and is considered one of the best Tsengian historical films.