When I first heard about SEVEN SWORDS, I imagined it to be another re-imagining of the classic SEVEN SAMURAI, about a bunch of disparate warriors defending a village from an evil warlord. In essence, this is exactly what the film is, but it bears little resemblance to the Kurosawa classic, and for me that's a good thing. Instead the film chronicles a running battle between seven warriors armed with mystical blades and all the bad guys of an army they're up against. This being a Tsui Hark film, it's got a long running time, is visually sumptuous, and packed with stirring music and top-notch technical values.
The actors are all pretty decent in their respective roles. My only complaint is that the film didn't really need seven heroes – they're too many, even despite the long running time, and some of them hardly get a look in (I'm thinking of the bald guy). Donnie Yen headlines the cast and does his usual posturing and fine fighting, and the final battle is pretty much left down to him. There are also some high quality performances from other cast members, notably Honglei Sun's developed villain, Fire-wind, and the girl who played Green Pearl. It's also fun to see Liu Chia-Liang back on screen, looking exactly the same as he did in DRUNKEN MASTER II.
The film has a distinctive visual style and Hark seems to have been hugely influenced by the landscapes and costumes of RETURN OF THE KING. That's no bad role model. Especially at this film's beginning, before you get used to it, the colours are amazing, with washed-out, drab grey landscapes and vibrant red banners and costumes. The set design is spot on, and particular attention has been paid to the weaponry. The heroes all have wicked-looking swords, which make noises, act like magnets, and they each have their own unique values; indeed the swords are as much characters as the actors holding them. The bad guys have plenty of wicked-looking weaponry adept at slicing the limbs and heads off the innocent, and as a result this is a fairly graphic film, although Hark plays down the violence by always focusing away on it (we'll see a leg falling on the ground, but not the act of it being chopped off). One of the weapons reminded me of the flying guillotine.
Of course, this is primarily an action film, and it delivers action in spades. I'd heard that there was a lagging middle, but I was engaged and entertained throughout. The fights are on a large scale and ably incorporate wire work and standard 'grounded' kung fu, and it's all very enjoyable and hard to take your eyes from the screen. I've always considered Hark's choreography to be a little over-stylised – to the detriment of being able to make out what's happening before your eyes – and that complaint sticks here, but it's a personal issue and most will love the many battle scenes. So, on a final note, this is a massive, expensive and very well made action fantasy that delivers a fitting bland of drama and action.
Action / Adventure / Fantasy
Action / Adventure / Fantasy
In the early 1600's, the Manchurians have taken over sovereignty of China and established the Ching Dynasty. While many nationalist revolts still brew within the martial artists' community, the newly set-up government immediately imposes a Martial Arts Ban, forbidding the practice of martial arts altogether in order to gain control and order. Wind Fire (Sun Hong-Lei), a surrendered military official from the previous dynasty, sees this as an opportunity to make a fortune for himself by helping to execute the new law. Greedy, cruel, and immoral, Wind Fire ravages the North-western China, and his next goal is to attack the final frontier, Martial Village. Fu Qingzhu, a retired executioner from the previous dynasty, feels the need to put a stop to this brutality and sets out to save Bowei Fortress. He brings Wu Yuanyin and Han Zhiban from the village with him to Mount Heaven to seek help from Master Shadow-Glow, a hermit who is a master of swords and leads a group of disciples of great swordsmanship. Master Shadow-Glow agrees to help, and orders four of his best disciples to go. Together with Chu Zhaonan, Yang Yunchong, Mulong, and Xin Longzi, the SEVEN SWORDS is formed and their heroic journey begins. As they lead the entire village to the road of a safer place, they begin to encounter mysterious confusion. Food and water is poisoned, and trails of escape are marked with signs leading the enemy to them. They soon realize that there is an undercover spy, and the SEVEN SWORDS must identify him/her before Wind Fire's army gets to them. Between this narrow gap of life and death, the situation is further complicated by the blossoms of love. —FB
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
December 05, 2021 at 05:15 AM