HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Night, The
Show Goes On, The
Furnace, The
Tyrel
Iceman
Blue Sky
Tokyo Dragon Chef
Pittsburgh
12 Hour Shift
Intergalactic Adventures of Max Cloud, The
Spoilers, The
Killer Therapy
Man Upstairs, The
Bloodhound, The
New Mutants, The
Tesla
Flame of New Orleans, The
Ham on Rye
Imperial Blue
Tenet
August 32nd on Earth
Don is Dead, The
Seven Sinners
Body of Water
Away
Soul
About Endlessness
Let It Snow
Ava
Deliver Us from Evil
Shark Attack 3: Megalodon
Midnight Sky, The
Lego Star Wars Holiday Special, The
Mon Oncle Antoine
Blast of Silence
Blackout, The
Stars in Your Eyes
Alone
Climate of the Hunter
Farewell Amor
   
 
Newest Articles
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
Blood Wedding: The Bride with White Hair on Blu-ray
The Inhuman Element: The Ladykillers on 4K UHD
As You Like It, Baby: Breathless on Blu-ray
Stargazing: Light Entertainment Rarities on DVD
Down to the Welles: Orson Welles Great Mysteries Volume 2 on DVD
Herding Cats: Sleepwalkers on Blu-ray
Confessions of a Porn Star: Adult Material on DVD
   
 
  Seven Swords A Price On Their Heads
Year: 2005
Director: Tsui Hark
Stars: Leon Lai, Charlie Yeung, Donnie Yen, Liwu Dai, So-Yeon Kim, Duncan Lai, Chai-Liang Liu, Yi Lu, Jingwu Ma, Jason Pai Paio, Honglei Sun, Michael Wong, Jingchu Zhang
Genre: Martial Arts, HistoricalBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The era is the seventeenth century, and the place is China where the latest Emperor has decreed that the use of any martial arts are to be banned. This also means that anybody caught using martial arts is permitted to be beheaded, and as there is a bounty paid for each head certain troops are unscrupulously wandering the countryside and putting whole villages to death, simply to win the money for their heads. As we join the story, this is taking place in one village while one older man, a skilled fighter, does his best to combat the soldiers, but eventually has to make his escape. He is wounded, but not before he meets Wu Yuan Yin (Charlie Yeung), a young woman who helps him kill his pursuer and escorts him back to her village. A hamlet that will soon be under threat from the murderers...

Seven Swords, or Chat Gim if you prefer the original title, was adapted from the book by Yusheng Liang by Chi-Sing Cheung, Tin Nam Chun and the film's esteemed producer and director Tsui Hark. It's an unashamedly sweeping epic, more than a little self-involved, that manages to be busy without being frenetic. Immediately getting on the audience's side, it sets up the martial arts ban as the reason behind the plot, which no fan of such films would like to see come to pass - no more Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan or Jet Li movies? It doesn't bear thinking about. However, what fighting sequences there are are pretty sparsely employed for most of the running time, as the filmmakers prefer to outline the relationship side of things.

Not that the relationships are any less epic than the scenery. The main villain is the general, Fire Wind (Honglei Sun), behind the head-removing attacks, and he sends his men (and woman) out to make him as much money as possible with a variety of weapons, including that old favourite, the flying guillotine. Meanwhile, at Yuan Yin's frontier village, the locals are rhubarbing about the new arrival as the old man is recognised as a torturer employed by the previous dynasty. However, he has chosen to redeem himself by battling the forces of Fire Wind (sounds painful), and persuades Yuan Yin and her friend (who she is secretly in love with) Han (Yi Lu) to take him up to Mount Heaven where they can enlist the help of some mystical swordmen (including stars Donnie Yen and Leon Lai), and so the seven swords of the title are assembled.

As I say, the action sequences are not as plentiful as I would have preferred, and some are pretty anaemic in their staging, not really anything that hasn't been seen before. More characters are introduced, such as Green Pearl (So-Yeon Kim), a Korean slave who Fire Wind has taken as his partner, no matter that she has little say in the matter. She is liberated in one of many conflicts between the heroes and their adversaries, but now that the villagers have to leave their homes to escape losing their bonces, there seems to be a traitor in their midst - could Green Pearl still be allied to Fire Wind? It's not as simple as that, as you might have guessed, and the film travels a starkly picturesque but twisting path along its narrative. The final set piece, where Fire Wind gets to show what he's made of as far as his own martial arts skills are concerned, is excellent, a swordfight in a cramped passageway, but Seven Swords' mournful, wistful tone tends to bring down the mood of the more triumphant developments. Music by Kenji Kawai.

[The Hong Kong Legends two-DVD set has featurettes, interviews with Tsui Hark and the stars, deleted scenes, and trailers among its extras.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3852 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Tsui Hark  (1950 - )

Hong Kong director, producer, writer and actor and one of the most important figures in modern Hong Kong cinema. Hark majored in film in the US, before returning to his homeland to work in television. Made his directing debut in 1979 with the horror thriller The Butterfly Murders, while 1983's Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain was a spectacular ghost fantasy quite unlike anything in HK cinema at the time. Other key films of this period include Shanghai Blues and the brilliant Peking Opera Blues.

Hark established the Film Workshop production house in 1984, and was responsible for producing such groundbreaking films as John Woo's action classics The Killer and A Better Tomorrow, Ching Siu-Tung's A Chinese Ghost Story and New Dragon Gate Inn, and Yuen Woo-Ping's Iron Monkey. In 1991 Hark revitalised the period martial arts genre and launched the career of Jet Li by directing the hugely successful Once Upon a Time in China, which was followed by several sequels.

Like many Hong Kong directors, Hark gave Hollywood a go in the late nineties and directed Jean-Claude Van Damme in Double Team and Knock Off. He returned home soon after to continue directing and producing movies like Time and Tide, the epic effects-fest Legend of Zu and romantic adventure Seven Swords.

 
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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
Paul Smith
  Lee Fiveash
   

 

Last Updated: