Reviewed by: cal42
Summary: Another manic offering from Chor Yuen
This Chor Yuen film is quite hard to come by these days I had to pay over the odds for a Thai DVD on eBay. Its quite a shock hearing Ti Lung dubbed in Thai, but luckily the original Mandarin audio is also included on the disc. I cant quite remember why I was chasing this down so arduously, but I assume I read a favourable review of it somewhere, bought it and then forgot about it for about a year.
Reviewer Score: 6
Based on a Gu Long novel, THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN is typical fare, full of intrigue, mystery and conspiracy. Stylistically, its virtually identical to CLANS OF INTRIGUE and its hard not to compare the two. Its head-spinningly complex and fast-paced, with a general plot of the hero Li Xunhuan (Ti Lung) in a feud with a shadowy assassin known only as the Plum Blossom Bandit. Occasionally aiding him is the mysterious Ah Fei (Derek Yee), who looks to be imitating David Chiang a lot of the time (and who would almost certainly have had the role had he still been in Shaw Brothers employ when this was made). Also involved is Lis sidekick Chuan-Jia (Fan Mei-Shang), Lin Xianer (Ching Li) and a cast of dozens of bizarrely-monikered characters who weave in and out of the convoluted plot.
Chor Yuen was a director with a keen eye for the dramatic, and some of the external shots for this film are pretty impressive, with lots of atmospheric footage across frozen rivers and snowy landscapes. The action scenes (of which there are many) are variable but generally pretty good, although Ti Lung is doubled quite a lot for some of the more agile scenes. I would have liked to have seen more of Derek Lees character, though, and the same can be said about Fan Mei-Shing, who seems to have only been included as Lis companion and manservant when convenient to the plot.
The problem with THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN is the break-neck pacing that Chor used so frequently. It is so hard to actually settle down and enjoy this film when no one will stand still for more than a few seconds. The exposition scenes begin well, providing the viewer with essential information, but then degenerate into confusing directionless rambles. I suspect this film condenses the source material down and instead of cutting plot threads and characters, Chor decided to throw everything in and hope for the best.
Even though the film is too haphazard and messy, it is not without its entertainment, although it is largely unintentional. The Plum Blossom Bandit is the most obvious example. Hes the evil villain of the piece, but you cant take him seriously at all. The reason? He wears a bright pink costume, thats why, and throws darts with little plum blossom designs on them. And thats not to mention a character who goes by the name of Mr Iron Flute. And you have to laugh when an inebriated poison expert says to a fatally dosed hero: why should trivial matters get in the way of drinking?
So while THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN can never be considered a classic, it is worth watching if youre in the mood for something that looks like it was written by someone on a fatal caffeine kick. Thats of course if you can track it down...
Reviewed by: MrBooth
***1/2 THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN: Perhaps the experience was spoilt a little by watching it with an audience who couldn't resist pointing out illogical actions from the characters etc, but I wasn't as impressed by this one as I'd expected to be, given that it's sometimes said to be the definitive Chor Yuen/Gu Long/Ti Lung film. Still very beautiful and quite enjoyable though.
Reviewer Score: 7
Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Summary: Not bad, not great but good!!
Ti LUng has made a few kung fu mystery movies and this is one of the better ones, though i can't help comparing it to Clans of Intrigue and Legend of the bat, and unfortunately watching those 2 movies, i guess the movie didn't turn out as good as i thought. It's still a good movie but the 2 movies above are better.
Reviewer Score: 7
The trailer to this movie is very good, leaving a lot of suspense and mystery to the plot. But i feel there are others better though this movie itself quite good!!
Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Summary: Excellent adoption
One of the best adoptions off an original novel or TV series. This one has the same story as a famous book (and later produced into several TV series) written by Gu Long, I believe, about a very famous folk martial artist/wuxia hero - "Xia Li Fei Dao" Li Xun Huan. If you need to see a recent portrait of this character, go see LEGEND OF THE FLYING SWORDSMAN (2000). But this Shaw Bros production is much better. The story basically reflects the magnificent novel, with tons of suspense and unexpected twists that you need to understand the Chinese language in order to fully understand the movie. Nevertheless, it suffers from poor action that is nowhere near as well-choreographed and effectized as the TV series. But I highly recommend this movie to anyone who understands Chinese, especially those who are also fans of wuxia novels and series. [9/10]