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天下第一劍 (1968)
The Fastest Sword

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 04/15/2006
Summary: Decent swordplay film

THE FASTEST SWORD tells a familiar tale - a martial artist who reaches the top of his field then realises that being No. 1 is more of a curse than a blessing, but can't escape the jiang hu because of his fame.

These wu xia films are pretty much always enjoyable, and even though The Fastest Sword doesn't have the biggest stars on or off camera, it's a solid effort with a few moments that make it stand out from the crowd. Mostly it's nothing particularly special though, and given the wealth of other films in the genre with Yueh Hua, Wang Yu or Cheng Pei-Pei to enliven them (for instance), it's non-essential in the modern age.

One thing worth mentioning - Chu Ching gets top billing in the credits, but in the 85 minute DVD from IVL, her character is not particularly prominent or important to the plot. I wonder if there is a longer version of the film out there?

Reviewer Score: 6

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 11/29/2001
Summary: Excellent movie

Quite obviously, I think very highly of this "primitive" Shaw Brothers production. It is the very best SB movie in the genre up to that time (1968). Right from the start you can tell it's going to become a classic, and the rest of the ride lives up to its promise.

The One Armed Swordsman series, Trail of the Broken Blade, Twelve Deadly Coins, etc were great movies as well, but today they suffer primarily from the lack of slick martial arts. You just had a bunch of people swinging their arms around the whole time. The Fastest Sword, on the other hand, minimizes on-screen display of its mediocore kung fu from the era, and that is a key factor of its success.

There is even a couple of deep moments which are probably supposed to symbolize something (in the finale when the two swordsmen are dueling to death, it shows the buddhas that one of them created), but I could never figure out their significance. If somebody would like to discuss this, please contact me via email or private message.