HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Alpha
Walking Tall
Blockers
Tongan Ninja
Black '47
Godfather Part II, The
Await Further Instructions
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
In Order of Disappearance
Charlotte's Web
Meg, The
Christmas Blood
Equalizer 2, The
1985
Mowgli
Ski School
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Age of Shadows, The
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Othello
First Reformed
Red White and Zero
Death Wish
Cry Wilderness
Heiresses, The
Millhouse: A White Comedy
Skyscraper
Born of Fire
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Lucia
   
 
Newest Articles
Ha Ha Haaargh: Interview With Camp Death III in 2D! Director Matt Frame
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
The Big Grapple: Escape from New York and Its Influence
The Conquest of Everett: The Kenny Everett Video Show on DVD
Bout for the Count: Hammer's Dracula in the 1970s
Nopes from a Small Island: Mistreatment of American Stars in British Films
You Know, For Kids: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box
If He Were a Carpenter and It Was the 80s: The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
   
 
  Soul of the Sword His blade spares noneBuy this film here.
Year: 1978
Director: Hua Shan
Stars: Ti Lung, Lin Chen-chi, Ku Feng, Yue Wing, Norman Tsui Siu-Keung, Lau Wai-Ling, Lily Li, Chan Shen, Chan Jun-Ho, Lee Hoi-Sang, Dave Wong Kit, Lun-Ga Chun, Fanny Leung Maan-Yee, Mama Hung, Yuen Wah
Genre: Drama, Martial Arts, Romance, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Masked swordsman Lu Tien Kang is renowned as the “King of Swords.” Having sent another challenger to his grave, he strides coolly away as the young man’s grief-stricken sweetheart (Lin Chen-chi) commits suicide. A young boy (Dave Wong Kit) hiding up a tree bears witness to this tragedy and boasts someday he will kill Lu Tien Kang and claim his title. Ten years of arduous training later, Nameless (Ti Lung) grows up to be a swordsman with unstoppable skills. Slaying scores of bad guys throughout the land, he swears never to reveal his name until the day he bests Lu Tien Kang. After eluding a female assassin, Nameless is befriended by a wandering healer (Ku Feng) who tries to show him there is a world beyond simple swordplay. Haunted by the spirit of the dead woman he saw as a boy, Nameless is amazed to encounter her identical double: sweet-natured street vendor Ho Lien (Lin Chen-chi again). Even though she already has a suitor in swordsman Yien (Norman Tsui Siu-Keung), Nameless is smitten with her. He leaves Yien beaten and humiliated then ravishes Ho Lien back at his place. Against the odds, they fall in love. Events take a tragic turn when Nameless realises true love could cost him his chance to be “King of Swords.”

Causing some confusion amongst martial arts movie fans, wu xia auteur Chang Pang-Yee made a movie called The Souls of the Sword the very same year, but this like-titled Shaw Brothers flick is the one to watch. Genre fans are more used to seeing the iconic Ti Lung play upright and unflappably intrepid heroes, but in Soul of the Sword he is a ruthless, arrogant, downright dislikeable protagonist. It is a testament to Lung’s charisma and the writing by Yau-Daai On-Ping and Lam Chin-Wai, prolific writer-directors in their own right, that Nameless remains such a compelling, psychologically complex character. Reunited with talented female lead Lin Chen-chi, with whom Lung co-starred in the loopy kung fu-musical-horror-fantasy-love story The Snake Prince, their key scene is beautifully played, brilliantly staged and simply gut-wrenching.

Although the action choreography by Shaw stalwart Tang Chia is inventive and energetic - with several wildly acrobatic manouevres forshadowing his directorial debut Shaolin Prince (1982) - the film impresses formost as a nuanced and contemplative swordplay drama. Episodic but often genuinely poetic this offers an unusually detailed and contectualized view of the wider world beyond martial arts. It is a rare Shaw Brothers movie that takes account of the many innocent casualties caught in the midst of all that sword-swinging. Even the minor characters prove memorable, like the sharp-tongued old granny (Mama Hung) who laments how easily a virtuous girl like Ho Lien can be despoiled, or the blind storyteller who tells bawdy tales while his partner picks people’s pockets. Kung fu icon Lily Li contributes a surprisingly brief cameo - and even more surprising nudity! - as the assassin ambushing Nameless in his bathtub. Yuen Wah also appears as a white-haired warrior wielding a wibbly-wobbly flexible sword.

Foreshadowing the horror fantasies Bloody Parrot (1981) and Portrait in Crystal (1983) by director Hua Shan, Soul of the Sword is quite a sensual film with some steamy love scenes. Late in the day, the plot brings on sultry Lau Wai-Ling as the mystery villainess Lady of Three Moves. She seduces the ever-hapless Yien into her revenge scheme, slicing his clothes off with her sword for a marathon of exhausting, all-night sex. Hua Shan dials down the delirious imagery that marked these later efforts, as well as his classic superhero film Super Infra-Man (1975) and wu xia fairytale Little Dragon Maiden (1983), in support of a more sober story. Nevertheless, he layers the film with some poetic visual effects: subliminal shots of Ho Lien that flicker like a ghost and double-exposed images in a scene where Nameless swipes at a room full of fluttering birds. The identity of Lu Tien Kang will come as no great surprise to genre fans but the unfolding tragedy continues to sting long after the striking, slow-motion duel in the rainswept river. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1703 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Stately Wayne Manor
George White
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
Rashed Ali
   

 

Last Updated: