the lesser known (and viewed) first part of the trilogy, Swordsman
lays the foundations for Ching Siu-Tungs'
much praised sequel.
Sam Hui plays Ling Wu-Chung, a student of the Hua Mountain sect,
sent to deliver a gift and message from his Sifu to that of another
However, as with many a swordplay film, this task is complicated
by a powerful enemy, hell-bent on taking back the Sunflower Scriptures
stolen from his possession.
The scripture, a hugely powerful training manual, is the envy of
all that come into its possession, and as loyalties are broken,
blood is shed...
Featuring a far more coherent narrative than its sequel, Swordsman
manages to out-do that production in many departments.
The action, whilst containing a large amount of ground-based combat,
still contains an energy and clarity which lights up every frame.
Wire-work is also used sparingly compared to many films of the genre,
with scenes relying more on camera-work and special effects to deliver
A number of cameos also warm the heart - none more so than Lam Ching-Ying's
as the Qin-playing, folk-song singing friend of Wu Ma.
Jackie Cheung also does a good job as the villains coniving lap-dog.
Unfortunately, my feelings towards the supporting cast do not extend
to Sam hui - an actor who irritates me by his mere presence on-screen.
Here, he's at his gurning worst, over-playing a number of scenes.
The charisma and boyish charm Jet Lee exudes as the same character
in Swordsman 2 is light years ahead of Hui's uncomfortable mugging.
This, more so than any other aspect of this superbly directed film,
drags the production down.
However, thanks to the rest of the movies excellence, this doesn't
impact too greatly on its ability to entertain.
some time now, HKL's transfers seemed to be slipping into the merely
"good", rather han "great", category.
Swordsman brings about a reassuring change, in which a spotless
print is married to a very detialed, beautifully coloured image.
Due to the source material, blacks lack detail, and softness creeps
into a number of frames. However, everything else about this transfer
At certain points I even had to remind myself of the print's 13
year vintage, as the crisp image qaltiy breathed life into this
reasonably mixed soundtrack, which contains a few ambient effects
spread across the surrounds, which is perfectly adequate.
Distortion is absent and dialogue largely clear, leaving the film's
rousing soundtrack to take centre stage without drowning out the
truly superb set of subtitles find their way onto this DVD.
Fully subtitled songs, even during the closing credits, and Chinese
character translation are only the bare minimum you'd expect from
By far the most impressive aspect is the usage of Chinese terms
in the tranlsations - referring to internal energy and the like.
The slight downside to this is the lack of an explanation of these
A few Hong Kong DVDs have worked around this by giving a translation
Even so, these subtiles deserve a round of applause.
Far and away HKL's most accomplished subtitles, which retain the
style of the film without any of the Westernization I lothe.
from the slightly indistinct image of Sam Hui on the opening menu,
the design and scoring of each of the screens is very good indeed.
UK Promo Trailer
Original Theatrical Trailer
Lady Whirlwind (10 mins)
Although one of the film's weakest performers, Cecilia Yip makes
for a worthwhile interviewee.
Whilst not exactly riveting viewing, her enthusiasm, adn the odd
piece of intersting behind-the-scenes information, make this a decent
Prince Of Darkness (20 mins)
A superb interview with a genuine legend of Hong Kong action cinema,
this interview with Yuen Wah is a delight.
Recollections of his training, collaborations with other luminaries
of the genre, as well as details of teh film itself are recollected
with warmth and humour.
Certainly one of the finest interviews to have made its way onto
the HKL label for some time.
Another fine piece of work by Logan, but surely you can have too
much of a good thing?!
Whilst I still appreciate Bey's work for the label, it's becoming
a chore to sit through some of his commentaries due to his frequent
repetition of facts and anecdotes.
Musa (No Trailer) Bang-Rajan Bichumnoo
Hong Kong Legends
Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Stars Flaming Brothers
superb return to form for HKL, with a DVD presentation that puts
them back at the forefront of Hong Kong DVD restoration.
Whilst the extras don't compare as favourably as some of their other
2-disc sets, their decision to concentrate their DVD-authoring powers
on such an excellent film has paid dividends.