HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
True Don Quixote, The
Babymother
Mitchells vs. the Machines, The
Dora and the Lost City of Gold
Unholy, The
How to Deter a Robber
Antebellum
Offering, The
Enola Holmes
Big Calamity, The
Man Under Table
Freedom Fields
Settlers
Boy Behind the Door, The
Swords of the Space Ark
I Still See You
Most Beautiful Boy in the World, The
Luz: The Flower of Evil
Human Voice, The
Guns Akimbo
Being a Human Person
Giants and Toys
Millionaires Express
Bringing Up Baby
World to Come, The
Air Conditioner
Fear and Loathing in Aspen
Kandisha
Riders of Justice
Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki, The
For Those Who Think Young
Justice League: War
Fuzzy Pink Nightgown, The
Plurality
Scooby-Doo! Moon Monster Madness
Night of the Sharks
Werewolves Within
Honeymoon
King and Four Queens, The
Stray Dolls
   
 
Newest Articles
A Monument to All the Bullshit in the World: 1970s Disaster Movies
Take Care with Peanuts: Interview with Melissa Menta (SVP of Marketing)
Silent is Golden: Futtocks End... and Other Short Stories on Blu-ray
Winner on Losers: West 11 on Blu-ray
Freewheelin' - Bob Dylan: Odds and Ends on Digital
Never Sleep: The Night of the Hunter on Blu-ray
Sherlock vs Ripper: Murder by Decree on Blu-ray
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
   
 
  Soul of the Sword His blade spares none
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, AdventureBuy from Amazon
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 3065 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 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
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: