The Blade (1995)
Reviewed by: Arshadnm6 on 2005-04-18
Summary: Tsui Hark makes a violent remake of the 'One Armed Swordsman', with unimaginable consequences.......
Tsui Harks very own version of the ‘One-Armed Swordsman’, with unique style camera angles and a Wong Kar-Wai brand of reminiscence.

Zhao Wen-Zhou stars as ‘On’, an orphan working as a blade manufacturer since his father died years ago, adopted by the owner of the manufacturing plant. The owner actually used to be a dear friend of On’s late father, whom died violently at the hands of a mercenary named ‘Fei Lung’ (played by Xiong Xin-Xin from other previous roles in ‘Once Upon a Time in China 3, 4 and 5’). On soon discovers the truth from the owner’s daughter ‘Ling’ (played by ‘Sang Ni’) and leaves everything to exact his revenge on the Notorious ‘Fei Lung’, whom is legendarily known for his sword-flying techniques. Ling also has a strange affliction and imagines herself in a world full of men who fight over her. On is among her targets and he bears a scar, which was given to him by Ling when they were young. When On leaves she follows him, hoping to change his mind and abandon this ridiculous escapade of revenge, only to get herself into trouble when her horse is caught in a trap and she is captured by some bandits plaguing the countryside. On hears her cries for help and manages to save her, but evidently during his fight with the bandits, loses with hand becoming useless and therefore the revenge is all but lost. He falls into a deep chasm and loses his former life, where Ling, his friends and even the owner assume he died from the fall.

While ‘On’ recuperates on what has transpired, his best friend ‘Iron Head’ (played by Moses Chan Ho (from other memorable roles in ‘Tri-Star’ and ‘Black Mask’) and Ling set out in search of ‘On’, disbelieving that he died. Eventually, during a bandit raid on a village, they stumble upon a one-armed swordsman, whom has the same appearance as ‘On’. ‘On’ man-handles the whole bandit gang and then disappears into thin air, when he catches an eye full of ‘Iron Head’ and ‘Ling’ so that he is not discovered. Iron Head and Ling go back to the village, hopelessly given up on the idea of On’s unmistaken death, although they find that their own village is under attack from another group of thugs, whom have hired ‘Fei Lung’ and his team of assorted sword-wielding assassins, as assistance. The final fight takes place in the blade manufacturing plant, between Fei Lung and On, in one of the most imaginatively filmed action-choreography set pieces to grace HK Cinema.

Tsui Hark certainly does an excellent job of portraying On as a noble warrior, whose best intentions are to seek justice for his fathers death, rather than the obvious revenge. He seeks to bring order to the country, by eradicating all the bandits and thugs that have been molesting the nearby towns, no for glory, fame or hatred but for honour and family. Also Ling is set out to be a self-obsessed daughter whom thinks the world revolves around her presence and everything On is doing is for her sake only, yet this is far from the truth where On only seeks retribution for his fathers murder as well as bring all this turmoil to an end. The charismatic storyline is fitted with impeccable decisiveness and little room is left for a romantic outlook. The atmosphere of each set piece is given an arty reminiscence with some scenes which look more like a pigment of Ling’s Dream, rather than real time visuals.

Overall, artistically successful or not, the film is undeniably visceral and engaging. Zhao Wen-Zhou deserves most of the credit, since his description of On’s demise and unfortunate circumstances, is so well done in such little screen time. This would class as one of the better Tsui Hark movies portraying a deeper message, unfortunately it is never made clear, and the experience would certainly be a memorable one, when watching this movie.

Overall Rating: 8.4/10
Reviewer Score: 8