"Highly recommended for fans in need of another great, thought provoking sword film."
- Vic Nguyen
The Blade (1995)
Director: Tsui Hark
Writer: Tsui Hark, So Man-Sing, Koan Hui On
Producer: Tsui Hark
Cast: Zhao Wen-Zhou (Chiu Man-Cheuk), Xiong Xin-Xin (Hung Yan-Yan), Sonny (Song Nei), Moses Chan Ho, Austin Wai Tin-Chi, Valerie Chow Kar-Ling, Jason Chu Wing-Tong, Michael Tse Tin-Wah, Ngai Sing
Running Time: 104 min.
Plot: After 20 years, a young man learns the truth of his father's death . Stealing his father's broken blade, he journeys to a road of revenge. A beautiful tale of love & honor; good & evil and, a single blade with a history of 20 years past.
Availability: This title is available at HKflix.com
IUXION'S REVIEW: Call me crazy, but I've always liked movies like The Blade, you know, wuxia movies with tight choreography and lots of swords. However, recently all that wire-fu with the Matrix, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, etc. etc. has been getting me a little bored. Sure, it's great, but I want something different now; something more realistic yet just as intense. So when I heard someone pitch The Blade as a Tsui Hark classic with no wires and lots of swordplay in the style of Wong Kar Wai, I couldn't be more excited. Then I read Slaxor's review at this site and figured he must've had a bad day. Turns out, he's the only sane one among us.
Tsui Hark basically utilizes every technique Wong Kar Wai is known for in this dark retelling of the One-Armed Swordsmen, but fails to emulate any of the stuff that fans really like in that director's movies, mainly his interesting well-rounded characters. Tsui Hark's characters are about as likable as an old rusted toilet, and his movie essentially looks like one too. To say that this movie is dark is an understatement-don't expect the Swordsmen trilogy. I guess he was trying to gritty and bold (and a lot of this was pretty pointless story wise, besides being atmospheric). Not that I hate movies that concentrate on mood or atmosphere instead of a plot (quite the opposite actually), it's just that there has to be something there. Staring at a bunch of dirty people, some of who hang naked upside down burnt to crisp, for two hours is not my idea of entertainment. Maybe he (Tsui Hark) should have concentrated on the script.
The one redeeming factor of this movie is the final fight sequence, which is obviously sped up a great deal, but is still interesting and well done. The rest of the fights don't fare so well-sure, I wanted realistic action, but if it all looks this bad (think the James Bond fight sequences without the guns), I'll take wire-fu any day.
In conclusion, this movie is very very bad, and I wanted to like it so much. Tsui Hark has never been my favorite director, although I have liked some of this other films (Time and Tide being one of them, a movie that also uses a lot of WKW techniques, but puts them to a better use).
IUXION'S RATING: 4/10
REVIEW: The most overrated piece of HK dung ever.
SLAXOR'S RATING: 2/10 because I think Xin Xin Xiong swings 2 bear traps around in the end scene.
YATE'S REVIEW: If "Ashes of Time" is "Chungking Express", than this is "Fallen Angels". Both this and "Fallen Angels" play like warped versions of the first stories, and I really recommend that you see this. Brutal action, lots of WKW-isms, and nice direction by Tsui Hark. Kind of like Tsui Hark's own "Ashes of Time". A must see.
YATE'S RATING: 9.5/10
VIC NGUYEN'S REVIEW: Tsui Hark, after filming the box office hit The Chinese Feast, set his sights on a period martial arts epic, and what resulted is this masterpiece which perfectly blends lightning fast swordplay, along with strong themes and ambitious cinematography. Mainland Chinese martial artist Zhou Wen-zhou headlines this story which is another take on Jimmy Wang Yu's sword classic One Armed Swordsman. Many critics lambasted this production for being too close to Wong Kar-wai (cinematography, voice over narratives) for it's own good, but Tsui Hark clearly has invented a style of his own. Highly recommended for fans in need of another great, thought provoking sword film.
VIC NGUYEN'S RATING: 9/10