Seven Swords (2005)Director: Tsui Hark
Starring: Leon Lai, Donnie Yen, Charlie Yeung, So-yuon Kim, Liwu Dai, Honglei Sun, Michael Wong, Lu Yi, Jingchu Zhang, Chia-Liang Liu, Chen Jiajia
Tagline: Not enough Kualo!
Based on the book Seven Swordsmen from Mountain Tian Liang Yu-Sheng and strongly influenced by Kurosawa's Seven Samurai, this movie tells the story of a group of swordsmen called on to defend a village from a group of bounty hunters who are working for the government. Rather than stay in the village after the first attack, they flee with their attackers hot on their trail and the swordsmen taking the fight to the enemy on several occasions, then stashing the villagers in a cave when they know they can't outrun them.
The swordsmen themselves have already been talked about a lot in other reviews. I would like to talk about Kualo (Chen Jiajia). WOW! Not since Master Asia in Swordsman II (and East is Red) has there been a bad guy with such and impact on screen. She was the meanest of all the bad guys and so tough that in one scene she cuts her own tongue with a sickle as she likes the taste of blood.
My biggest complaint with this movie is that she was killed off too cheaply. My interest in the film did suffer somewhat after she was gone as the other characters are not as interesting as her. I know there are sequels planned for the other characters in Seven Swords, but a small feature with just Kualo going around killing people and trying to hit on women would be great.
There is an emphasis on realism in this movie not seen since Tsui Hark's movie the Blade. Everything is very dusty which made it a pain the arse to shoot according to the producer Nansun Shi and the location while beautiful, was very remote and hard to work in due to extreme weather conditions.
Like the Blade there is also some cross cultural influence with two of the main characters speaking in Korean. The province in which it was shot borders Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Kashmir so you would expect influences from all these cultures in it.
Although not as extreme as the colours in Hero, I liked the grey and red as seen in the first scene and the white and black of bad guys costumes as compared to the drab garments of swordsmen. Kualo and the other bad guys also had white clay coloured skin with some nasty looking tattoos that made them look even better.
There were a lot of good action scenes, but they didn't really go on long enough in some parts as it kept chopping and changing between the different characters so we never got to see a good fight between two people. Some of it was also a bit confusing as there was a lot going on in the fight scenes and it was hard to follow at times.
Despite this, I would recommend this film if you like fantasy swordplay films, but would like to see a movie that is more realistic than most films. There are already sequels planned and the four hour version of the movie will hopefully be released in the future if you thought the movie didn't have enough story (it worked with the extended editions for Lord of the Rings!)
This site is definitely not affilated with the Melbourne International Film Festival (DUH!) or the Melbourne Underground Film Festival.