viewing this 1995 release, I had high hopes. A film which , it was
said, "redefined the swordplay
genre", and featured "exhilarating swordplay", had just been released
onto DVD. So I eagerly rented this out, looking forward to being
Now, I can't recall he last time I sat through a Chinese movie,
wishing it would end and constantly peering at my watch, but unfortunately
this was one of them...
'Style over content' was the first description that sprung to mind
whilst watching this Tsui Hark directed swordplay
"epic", and one which I stand by.
The plot, based on the classic One Armed Swordsman, follows On (Chiu
Man Cheuk), an orphan who begins studying swordplay
to avenge his Fathers death, after losing his arm in a battle with
a group of bandits. I won't bother detailing the nuances of the
plot, partly due to its complexity, but also because I found it
difficult to concentrate - Tsui Hark's constant yearning to appear
groundbreaking, quickly made me lose patience, and interest.
The director's vision of "groundbreaking" included poorly developed
characters, ridiculous fight scenes, nauseating camerawork and possibly
one of the most unappealing female leads ever to grace a Hong Kong
The action sequences are easily the most irritating aspect, featuring
over-cranking and continual jump-cutting. This results in a muddled,
unskilled and, most importantly, uninvolving mess...
picture quality varies between average and very poor, with many
scenes looking no better than a second generation VHS copy.
Colours bleed (especially reds), blacks are muddy and reveal artifacts,
and the overall detail is very soft. Some scenes are so poor it
was difficult to tell what's on-screen.
soundtrack, containing little separation and a rather bland tone,
lacking bass and therefore losing most of the impact it should convey.
the only (slightly) redeeming feature of this dreadful disc, the
subs. have been remastered and are very well translated. However,
as they're non-removable, watching on a Widescreen T.V. will result
in them being cut off.
trailer - Wow!?!
films, no matter how bad, can still be reasonably enjoyable if they
have received a top class DVD transfer (Godzilla for instance),
M.I.A.'s presentation, however, is the final nail in the coffin
for this pretentious piece of rubbish.
This is one "Hong Kong Classic" whose Blade is not nearly sharp
enough to warrant a viewing, let alone a purchase...