Review of: The Wandering Swordsman (1970)
Overall Rating: 8
This wuxia film started with a fun lighthearted tale of a prankster character who wandered from place to place causing trouble for bad people and helped those in need. I was left with an initial sense of stuff happens but all of the seemingly random events suddenly knit together as the main plot is revealed. Then the movie takes on more of a stock 70’s wuxia film pattern even ending on the sad note.
The Wandering Swordsman (1970) has a delightful sense of play. I really enjoyed the main character with his swashbuckling sense. The visuals, actions and fight scenes are ok but I should also note that this was shot in 1970. The characters are also for the most part flat with the exception of the lead and his nemesis. The tale told and overall experience is fun and overall swashbuckling goodness, definitely worth watching at least once.
The story: In this fun, swashbuckling, martial arts tale, a charismatic prankster with formidable sword skills bounces decides to steel from thieves and then gives his new wealth to some wondering poor. This plan doesn't sit well with the criminals, who band together to stop him. Fortunately our hero has a powerful blade on his side. A high-spirited blend of action, romance, and comedy, this dynamic Shaw Brothers classic from fearless director Chang Cheh.
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Review of: The Wandering Swordsman (1970)
DVD Releases: March 2, 2010
- Ponyo: The latest movie in Hayao Miyazaki's collection. I love all of his movies his vision art and story are always entertaining and edifying. I’ve been looking forward to this one for years. It did not get released to the theaters in this area I would still place this as an owner unseen for fans of Miyazaki and a renter probably an owner for the rest. Some other great movies from Hayo Miyazaki: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Castle in the Sky.
- More Ponyo on dashPunk
- 2012: a disaster film which will feature some of the more scarier natural disasters out there like Yellowstone's super volcano. I’m curious to see how they pull of the message behind the movie but I have seen so many of these go wrong which leaves me leery to watch it. Netflix says I’ll give it a 4.1 so it may be good. Definitely a renter.
- Ninja: Do Not Confuse this with Ninja Assassin the Wachowski brothers film that will be released in a couple of weeks. Ninja is a modern tale about Ninjas with a typical story line: Main character journeys to Japan to study to be a ninja then gets called back to New York to protect an armor chest with the legendary ninja weapons in it. I find it hard to place into the not interested category because I’m a sucker for Martial arts movies though every other bone in my body warns me that this won’t be good. Netflix thinks I will give it a 3 which means it’s a risk. With that in mind a renter for fans of martial arts movies and not interested for the rest.
Reviewing The Forbidden Kingdom
Review of: The Forbidden Kingdom Overall Rating: 8.0
The Forbidden Kingdom is a delightful, fun, light hearted wuxia fantasy tale. Although I absolutely loved the more serious wuxia films of late it was refreshing to sit down to a light hearted one. The use and references to Chinese and Wuxia characters was really neat. I found it fun to test my geek knowledge by trying to guess who was who before they were introduced and proud to say that I got them right. The fight sequences were beautiful and well choreographed but at times lacked the ferocity and intensity of the martial style. The visuals were beautiful especially the cherry blossom field.
Forbidden Kingdom is about a kung fu obsessed American teen who discovers a staff. The discovery sends him on an adventure to China, where he joins up with a band of martial arts warriors in order to free the imprisoned Monkey King.
- Fun, light hearted Fantasy Tale
- Use of Chinese Mythological and Wuxia film character references
- The fight between Jackie Chan and Jet Li
- good use of humor.
- good visuals
Dislikes / Concerns
- There is a lot of wirework and graceful movements to the point that the feel of raw grit and intensity of martial fighting is lost in some of the fight sequences. Aka, some fights were all silk and no steel.
- Wire work not well done and drew attention to fact it was wirework.
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Reviewing The Magic Blade: Shaw Brothers
|Review of: The Magic Blade: Shaw Brothers
Overall Rating: 8.5 B
This is a classic Wuxia film set in the mythical jiang hu, underworld. The effects and sounds are a little jarring at first but should be overlooked and considered with the other films that came out in it's day, 1976. Watching this movie showed me how far this genera has improved. If your familiarity with the genera is from movies like Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon then be patient with the effects because the story is fun and well worth it.
The story is about two rival swordsmen in imperial China Fu Hung-Hsueh and Yen nan-Fei vie with a power-hungry villain for the deadly Peacock Dart and fend off waves of the best assassins and deadly traps during their journey. The story takes a classic fantasy quest structure and fills it with many plot twists and fights concluding with the climactic showdown on the villain's island lair.
If you like Wuxia, fantasy quest tales or action films this is definitely a movie for you. The Magic Blade: Shaw Brothers is a refreshing fun ride and worth watching.
- Action sequences
- The wire work was very fluid and I would go so far as to say it would compare with current day films wire work.
Dislikes / Concerns
- sound effects, but in all fairness they would have been considered good for it's time.
- visuals, although not the best that limitation came from the equipment not due to the director who did a good job framing the scene and getting dynamic shots
Reviewing The Legend of The Black Scorpion
I was very excited to watch the wuxia film "The Legend of the Black Scorpion". Wuxia (Wuxiá with the accent marks) is a distinct quasi-fantasy sub-genre of the martial arts genre. The thing one must remember when sitting down to a wuxia film is that you will always get action, the catch is what that action is paired with that will flavor the feel of film. In the case of The Legend of the Black Scorpion they paired it with drama and made an excellent moving film.
The movie is about Ziyi Zhang staring as Empress Wan, a conniving woman whose beauty is equaled by her taste for power. She lustfully longs for her stepson Wu Lan (Daniel Wu). But when the Emperor dies, it is Wu Lan's younger brother who ascends to the throne, setting off a chain of events that are tragic.
The visuals were breath taking with vivid colors and perfect backdrops. The film plot was a retelling of Shakespeare's Hamlet. That being said it was not another boring Hamlet retelling. They really did both the story of Hamlet justice while making the story fit within the wuxia setting, Chinese culture, ethics and Courtly life. For instance: ********** spoiler Alert ********** they changed the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern part into a group of assassins that were sent to kill the prince by his uncle. The assassins succeed on killing everyone including the royal guard group that was sent to escort the prince back but the prince hid from the fight and escaped. When the assassins got close to returning to the emperor's palace they were met with an envoy of the emperor and were instructed of their failure. Upon which they did the only honorable thing left to do, dispatch with their on lives. ************* End Spoiler Alert ************ It was fascinating to see that the spirit of the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern part of Hamlet stayed the same, they were sent to dispatch Hamlet, failed and were instead dispatched by the king yet told in a fresh and different manor. More information can be found on the Dragon Dynasty web site.
- Fight's were really well balanced and suspenseful. Both sides have exceptional skill that matched with their position and both sides suffered causalities.
- The use of creating immense honor by pairing it with immense consequence for action.
- Subtle use of terms in relation to political maneuvering.
- I loved how the royal guards who would have had immense unit combat training would operate as one super fighter consisting of many separate parts.
- they resisted long boring travel scenes, like to and from the palace, no helicopter shot :)
- They avoided the uncomfortable incestuous relations between hamlet and his mother by making the mother the princes age and them childhood lovers that the emperor took as his wife.
Dislikes / Concerns
- Typical story elements for wuxia tales: corrupt uncle who takes control and tries to have emperor son killed although in the films defense that is the main story element of Hamlet too. The concern is mainly that I have seen those basic elements in a lot of entertainment lately and have grown tired of it.
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Review of Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End
This is a wonderful tale much in the spirit of one that would have been told in a sea side pub late in the evening during a round of drinks. Pirates of the Caribbean - At World's End is a swashbuckling action adventure fantasy tale and the third in a series. The East India Trade Company under the lead of Lord Cutler Beckett has set out to rid the seas of any pirates. He takes a ruthless approach of total eradication with no mercy for even those who harbor pirates and even goes to the point of hanging a child. This time though Lord Beckett is succeeding where others have failed because he has the heart of Davy Jones and thus command of the Flying Dutchman. With this threat of total annihilation the song of the pirates has been sung and all of the pirate lords must convene a council to decide what to do. I found this film to be incredibly fun and will give it a 9 out of 10
I herd a lot of complaints from other reviews of the film that every character had a plot and it muddled the movie but I would have to disagree. There was really only one plot which was the struggle of all pirates for survival against the East India Trade Company. There are also only two sub plots that being the sub plot of the sea goddess Calypso trying to get free from her imprisonment, and Will Turner trying to free his father from the Flying Dutchman. That being said there is still confusion.
The confusion arises because the writers were ambitious with the themes of the movie and they were successful in permeating those themes throughout every aspect of the tale. They were also ambitious by giving many characters a lot of depth and allowing them to act naturally instead of leaving that depth out of the tale.
Problem one, the themes of the movie are what does one desire most, duty and honor, in particular honor amongst thieves. In the normal tales that we are exposed to there are usually only a hand full of desires which are shared amongst the characters in the tale. In this film there are many characters each with their own individual desire and each character acts for their own goal. This lends a chaotic feel to the film because it can at times be difficult to sort out each characters desire but I also found this to be fun because of the complex level of intrigue that arouse out of the complex struggle. This complex pile of individual ambitions was also the key to understanding the other theme honor amongst thieves. Part way into the film you are hit with the terrifying reality that no one can trust anyone else but the hidden message is that you can trust in another to act in a predictable manner to achieve what they desire most and thus can trust only in ones ability to discern everyone's else's desire.
Problem two, every main character, and there are many in this tale, has a desire, a goal and acts accordingly. Because every character has their own goal the tales appears chaotic but I found this actually gives a fun undercurrent to the tale. Once you learn what each character desires most their actions and ambition become predictable and make since. Though I commend and applaud the writers for such an ambitious move it is also why many said that everyone had their own plot for they confused a characters desires and actions to meet those desires with plot.
All in all this was a great action packed tale with tons of exciting fight scenes which were broken with moment of hilarity due to comedic relief from Captain Barbossa two sidekicks, from the monkey Jack, and from the parrot that belongs to the mute that serves on the crew of Captain Jack Sparrow.
I gave this movie a high review mainly because watching it was a fun and exciting experience and that experience was able to move beyond the complex themes and cheesy parts. A great example was the wedding scene which even though I was repulsed by it because it was over the top I still have to tip my hat at it because everything else aside it was still a fun and exciting scene. Kudos!