Seven Swords (2005)
Reviewed by: pjshimmer on 2005-10-13
The latest offering from Tsui Hark is basically what I expected -- more living proof that the master has lost it. Once a pioneer, Tsui raised the industry bar with Zu, Chinese Ghost Story, and Once Upon a Time in China. Anything he turns out these days is embarrassing compared to his previous works. I am a believer that Mr. Tsui would be better served if SEVEN SWORDS is his last project, as each time he comes out with something new, his reputation takes a blow, at least in my mind. At this rate, it will only be a matter of time before his good reputation perishes.

Now I'm not saying the movie is entirely meritless. I like to think of Tsui Hark more as an innovator than a conformist. But I feel like in the past 10 years Tsui hasn't figured out where to take his direction, and he tries to be creative here in a very strange, unsatisfying way. For example, he tries to inject realism by having the characters care about their grain which supports their living, but at the same time there's plenty of visual fantasy, and I don't think he did a good job mixing the 2 opposite extremes. The characterization is absolutely horrible in this movie, not much better than that of LEGEND OF ZU, where characters come and go without adequate introduction. As you may know, this is the story of seven heroic swordsmen. At the beginning we have 2 people in search of warriors to defend their village. Suddenly, they meet 4 other swordsmen and an old guy played by the great Liu Chia Liang, and ta-da, a group of 7 is formed. But how is this possible when the 2 people hardly know martial arts, how can they just suddenly be accepted into an elite kung fu club like that? I found that part rather confusing. Also I didn't quite get in the end why cannon balls started to roll around in thin air?

The action design is generally good, a bit traditional thanks to Liu Chia Liang's choreography. but in my opinion the latest period flicks from HK and Korea lack the ferociousness of the choreography that made the 90s new wave wuxia genre exciting.