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# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
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The Sword And The Lute (1967, Hsu Tseng-Hung)

After releasing parts 1 and 2 (Temple Of The Red Lotus & The Twin Swords) merely months apart in 1965, the concluding movie in the trilogy didn't appear on screens until 2 years later (shortly before The One-Armed Swordsman would transform swordplay movies and the career trajectory of its star Jimmy Wang Yu). Husband and wife Gui Wu (Wang Yu) and Lien Chu (Chin Ping) are in possession of the deadly Phoenix Lute but foolishly both use it and lose it to the evil Flying Tiger Clan. To cure a wounded family member of their own, they need to find the Seven Stars Stone and the young lovers now need to protect the family in possession of it. I suppose a thread here is that the young entrusted with responsibility have a lot to learn but at the same time, The Sword And The Lute shows the series extending itself unnecessarily. These characters and adventures were never mindblowing but movie one and two proved to be important and entertaining breeding ground for the new type of swordplay movie. By movie three, it's merely a basic, understandable but underwhelming time with these characters (Wang Yu and Chin Ping are close to supporting characters, presumably because the former was busier than ever). Action has also reverted back to a softer kind (as opposed to the rather primal nature of the second installment) and while on par with the first, it's the lack of freshness that makes The Sword And The Lute forgettable. A few depictions of powers with the martial world, as crude as they are, are fun but not enough is present to sustain energy. Also starring Yueh Hua, Fung Bo Bo and Lo Lieh appears as a new character after having served his purpose in the first two movies.

Sword Master (2016, Derek Yee)

Based on Chor Yuen's iconic swordplay movie Death Duel from 1977 that also starred a young Derek Yee, the now celebrated director handles the remake himself that keeps most of the core present (minus graphic arm surgery for those who were wondering). Originally quite a coherent time with clan feuds and swordplay (considering it's based on a Gu Long-novel after all, coherency was a surprise), with modern technology (including 3D) Yee has the opportunity to enhance the fantastical sights of the martial world. An artificial look, sometimes mostly executed on greenscreen sets isn't necessarily the wrong choice therefore. It perhaps plays better to a modern audience this onslaught of pitch perfect sights, colors, coming at ya 3D and slow motion grace involving extraordinary abilities and swordplay but there's a manufactured, technical nature to Sword Master that prohibits heart and atmosphere from coming through. With characters being disillusioned with what the martial world means and having desire to break from tradition, ritual and bloodshed, this exploration breathes better in the more rural segments with Kenny Lin's Ah Chi hiding away and also concealing his identity in the process. It's not classic Derek Yee poignancy but the intent translates, especially since it feels a bit more internalized. When the feuds of the martial world invades this space, it feels less dangerous, oppressive, lyrical and poignant because it mostly does come off as a commercial, 3D excercise... in excess. It gets tiresome to get showcase moments of every ability of every character across the board and being pummeled like this doesn't feel visionary. For sure Chor Yuen's movie was an excess in color and atmosphere with tons of indoor sets acting as outdoor ones. But the stage was physical for one and although that was old fashioned filmmaking, the more human traits of this story punched through. Plus that visual excess WAS cool. Kenny Lin's chief opponent Swordsman Yen is played by Peter Ho in this version while Norman Tsui (also a cast member from the 77-version) appears in support.

A Sword Named Revenge (1981) Directed by: Lee Ga

Well shot and atmospheric Wuxia that taps into the tradition of a plot containing multiple characters, twists, hidden agendas and you need to be accustomed (and certainly a bit forgiving) to this storytelling in order to give A Sword Named Revenge a felt pat on the back. With a main character disappearing into madness, a dreamy and sometimes bizarre nature resides in the flick, the impotent dwarf chief among the bizarre aspects. All while the usual supremacy of the martial arts world is on top of the agenda of many, many characters. Possessing a technical polish and standard but enjoyable Wuxia techniques (otherwise the action is often quite slow), A Sword Named Revenge is overlong material that can be endured. It's also serious dedication wasted thanks to the usual muddled storytelling.

The Sword Of Justice (1980) Directed by: Hui Sing-Yue

You make an agreement with yourself that terrific atmosphere and way above average swordplay is more than enough even if there's little coherency. Oh sure main character Lung San Lung on his revenge rampage in the martial world has his agenda but mostly the action team stages a parade of inventive and fast fights. Wisely restricting the scope and bringing in character drama concerning the futility of the violent world, there's even COHERENT, affecting train of thoughts put forth during and in between a furious 2 on 1 ending. All within a world where you become desensitized through killing and power.

The Sword Of Many Loves (1993) Directed by: Poon Man-Kit

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Finally something by the Mak Brothers and director Poon Man-Kit that ISN'T a gangster epic taking us through the political changes of Hong Kong as a particular character rises through the ranks. No, The Sword Of Many Loves jumps on the 90s Wuxia wagon and although a bit too long, its above average production values, creativity and star chemistry gets the filmmakers a long way. Structured around the love triangle between swordsman Wu Fei (Leon Lai), kung fu fighter Purple Yuen (Sharla Cheung) and witch Ching (Michalle Reis), in between you also have some personal revenge, dynasty- and clan feuds... probably. The story outside of the trio isn't even half as interesting but the stars do interact rather well while Poon Man-Kit gives us some wicked, mad sights. Ranging from the scorpion eating dwarf to Ching's various, creative ways of poisoning people (faces get fatter, butts get fatter etc via her various tricks), the movie doesn't go particularly broad either (despite mentioned poison effects) when the love triangle goes into the feud territory we expect. The ladies look incredible, Leon Lai is suitably dopey as he tries to decide which one to truly pursue and the high flying action (by Yuen Cheung-Yan and Ma Yuk-Sing) is high on energy and excitement (in particular the sandstorm finale). It's not the second coming of the genre from the time but a lot more ambition translates into engagement by the cast and viewer. Elvis Tsui plays the main villain.

The Swordsman Of All Swordsmen (1968) Directed by: Joseph Kuo

While not 100% certain on this, The Swordsman Of All Swordsmen is at least Joseph Kuo's big breakthrough in the Wuxia genre 10 years into his directorial career. As with subsequent efforts the next year such as King Of Kings, via this film Kuo joins the ranks of King Hu and Chang Cheh as thoughtful, stylish storytellers in combination with conveyers of exciting, creative action. Swordsman Tsai Ying-Chieh (Tin Yau) is on a killing spree in the name of revenge. Having witnessed his family being killed, no one and nothing will stand in his way. Meeting the mysterious Black Dragon, who wants a piece of the notorious swordsman, and swordswoman Swallow (Polly Kuan), it's the latter that tries to talk Tsai out of pursuing violent revenge. Even after being nursed to health by Swallow, Tsai is hellbent on getting the last one on his list...

Without breaking new ground, Joseph Kuo translates Tyrone Hsu's intelligent script well. It's straightforward revenge stuff that is intercepted by common but human questions about the notion of revenge. Is there something valid in bloodthirst and can you re-evalutate along the way in order to possibly achieve growth as a swordsman in a very violent world? With marvellous cinematography and a violent edge to the action, Kuo and crew essentially creates sword-brawls that brings the intensity up a considerable notch. The experimenting with undercranking isn't always successful though but The Swordsman Of All Swordsmen is still a classic piece of Wuxia CINEMA that manages to pack valid depth (minus points for a tad too much melodramatic acting though) in a short package.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

Sworn Brothers (1987) Directed by: David Lai

A classic scenario of two childhood friends (Andy Lau & Cheung Kwok Keung) on opposite sides of the law but bound by loyalty to each other becomes a starting point for David Lai (Saviour Of The Soul, Runaway Blues) to excise some really, really dark inner demons that takes form in the shape of extreme brutal violence (supervised by Sammo Hung). Sworn Brothers is no film school example of storytelling but packs not only the punch on a violent level but fairly emotionally as well. Much due to Andy Lau's very competent and relaxed performance, a bit of a rarity at this point in his career. Melodrama goes way too high however and not all viewers may find the unsympathetic nature to characters worthy of their time but Sworn Brothers is exhilarating in its expert execution of violence. In a twisted way, that's enough. Siu Hung Mooi, Chin Ka-Lok, Eddy Ko and Bill Tung also appear.

An alternate ending was shot for the Mainland market and once available on the dvd release from WA.

Buy the DVD at:
Yesasia.com

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