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WC (1980)
The Sword

Reviewed by: STSH
Date: 06/23/2014

Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: ororama
Date: 11/05/2009

"The Sword" follows the journey of a young swordsman, Li,to locate a master swordsman, Hu, in order to test his skill against the best. He spends years and great effort in this quest, and has to fight two rivals with the same goal. A crazy swordsman who has spent more time and effort than Li on his quest mistakes Li for Hu and believes that Li's denial is a trick. The next rival covets Hu's swords and has no belief in chivalry. Li seems unsettled by his encounters with these two mirror images of himself.

Li assists a swordswoman, Ying Chih, to avoid capture by kidnappers. She proves to be essential to the completion of his quest, and, unfortunately, is also a romantic possibility that he does not pursue. He prefers a hopeless devotion to an old sweetheart, who is married to another swordsman. This is true to the values of the period in which the story is set, but the movie would have been more fun with more of Ying Chih's energy.

"The Sword" shows a journey from idealism to disillusionment. Li finds that his victories give him little satisfaction and the code of chivalry that he has centered his life around has no meaning in the real world. After an initial promise of adventure, the story ends with a sense of emptiness.

Adam Cheng gives a calm, assured performance as Li, which seems right for the character that he is portraying. Chui Git is very good as the spunky, mercurial swordswoman, Ying Chih. Norman Chu is effective as the rival whose polite, slightly ironic manner masks his ruthless and violent character.

Patrick Tam's direction is stylish, using quick cutting and some wire work in the sword fighting.

"The Sword" is an entertaining movie that raises interesting questions about the value of abstract ideals of honor and heroism.

Reviewed by: cpardo
Date: 07/13/2005
Summary: Good early swordplay from GH

A cursed sword. A quest fulfilled. A love entangled in despair. Can Li the swordsman forget the past and concentrate on vanquishing Lian, an evil conspirator (and husband of his ex-lover) determined to get his hands on a powerful but cursed sword? And what will Li do with the sword once he gets it back? Keep it, or throw it away...?

I liked this film since it's a classic swordplay melodrama with all the things you come to expect in this genre. The "evil" sword reminded me of a certain evil ring I've heard about...Anyway, this is a pretty good swordplay flick. I like the cast, the twists and turns, and the final battle with the dramatic drawn out coda. I was pleased to find out Tony Ching did the choreography for the film, and also that Patrick Tam directed, who also did the arthouse-style film Nomad the same year. Two different films--wow. But The Sword is good 'ol fashioned martial arts excitement.

Reviewer Score: 7

Reviewed by: pjshimmer
Date: 07/10/2005
Summary: New wave gem

This great film seems to have brought modernism into the wuxia realm and had a good impact on the development of the New Wave (late 70s/early 80s). It has become so vivid that whenever I think about it, I emmerse myself in its Jiang Hu universe, feeling like I have actually been there. Simply one of HK cinema's must-sees.


Reviewer Score: 9

Reviewed by: Sydneyguy
Date: 03/07/2002
Summary: Pretty good

A great old sword fighting movie. Though there isn't much of a plot, the movie relies on the mood which is helped along by the music in the film. I think this is a movie where you will enjoy it more after watching it again and again. A classic showdown and a great ending!! Worth a looking for sword fighting fans!!


Reviewed by: MasterArts
Date: 03/07/2002
Summary: Ah yes, Golden harvest

When I was a kid watching kung fu movies, this one would have put me to sleep in the theaters. But now is now, and I have a totally different view on martial arts films. This one is one of the coolest. Very, very gloomy film and tragic. Gives you a real crappy feeling at the end. But, thats from the effect of the film, like other Golden harvest classics. Very minimal fight scenes. But the fight scenes are worth the wait. Swordplay is very fast and well choreographed. If not the best, one of the best sword play around. About a generation ahead of its time. Also, very fatal. Guys be getting chopped and sliced in seconds. The sword play ain't drawn out, it gets straight to the point(literally), like samurai movies. There are some superman wireworks, but a lot of classics have them. Do I like this movie? Hellya!!

Reviewed by: 5elementninja
Date: 01/01/2002
Summary: This is the best swordplay movie you won't hear about.

Adam Cheng is a swordsman searching for fame and glory as he looks to challenge the top swordsman in the land known as Hua. During his journey he runs into a young lady in destress and decides to save her, not knowing she is the daughter of Hua. He also runs into his childhood sweetheart who is now married to another swordsman who Cneng finds out later has a plot to kill Hua and steal two of Hua's swords. One of these swords, the Wu Chi, has a very mysterious aura. This film is very much ahead of its time as far as drama in a martial arts film. The story is wonderful and the fight choreography is reminiscent of "Duel to the Death" with very bloody and at times fantastic battles. This is the best swordplay movie you won't hear about.

Reviewed by: MrBooth
Date: 06/02/2001
Summary: Classic new-wave

The film has a pretty straightforward plot, although the way it's delivered tries very hard to mask the fact. In summary, a young swordsman (Adam Cheng) has trained for 10 years in swordplay, and wants to find out how good he is. The swordsman Hua is renowned as the greatest in the land, so he sets out to track him down. Hua has gone into seclusion though, and is hard to find. On his route, he bumps into a feisty young swordswoman and his ex-childhood sweetheart, now married to Norman Chu. Norman also wants to find Hua, in order to get his Harn Hsing blade for his collection. Cheng stumbles on a lead when the young swordswoman is kidnapped, and he is persuaded to go to rescue her. This is also how he comes into possession of The Sword, from which the film takes it's name. The sword was forged by men filled with hate - it is powerful, but evil.

The styling of the film is somewhere between A TOUCH OF ZEN and Ching Siu Tung's DUEL TO THE DEATH, though I base this statement largely on shared cast members :-) It doesn't have the masterful cinematography and narrative power of the former, nor the delirious invention of the latter (though it tries). The main point of interest is the action scenes, which are particularly where the above films are useful as reference. Like Hu's film, the action scenes are largely expressed through suggestion rather than explicitly shown... odd edits and camera angles create an interesting feel. There's some wirework going on, but not as heavy or as graceful as in DTTD. The sword fights themselves are not particularly exciting, coming across more as random twisting and clashing than any masterful skill. Better than those in ATOZ, not as good as those in DTTD.

The film shares with other "New Wave" films of the time, such as The Butterfly Murders, an interest in "visual language" which was not common in Hong Kong films - the use of light, shadow and camera placement to express the internal feelings of the characters. It also shares a nihilism/pessimism about life, making for a very dark film.

It took me a few viewings to appreciate THE SWORD, but once I finally did, I understood why people had been saying how great it was for so long :-)

Reviewer Score: 9