"Wandering Swordsman" David Chiang soundlessly somersaults in slow motion as he shadows a pair of thieves known as "the Flying Robbers," who are planning a robbery. He follows them to a tavern, where he casually tells the proprietor that "today is a bad day for thieving." The Robbers overhear him, but ultimately ignore his words of wisdom. He lays for one of them in the forest, takes the stolen gold from him, and gives it to a band of refugees whose village has been taken out on the tide. His largesse comes back to bite him when he has to sell off his short swords to pay for a meal at a tavern. The buyer, Jung (or "Chung," according to the cast list here), played by Chen Hsing, rides off. Chiang, penniless, contemplates following on foot, but comes across a trio of abandoned horses and ventures into the nearby woods out of curiosity. There, he witnesses the murder of Miss Jiang Ning's bodyguard by the robber swordsman, Jin Li Loi, "the single-bladed swordsman." Chiang intervenes on her behalf and Jin wisely moves on. After a brief, flirtatious encounter with Miss Jiang, Chiang himself moves on, using the dead bodyguard's horse to hunt for Jung. THE WANDERING SWORDSMAN is chock full of well-drawn characters played by solid performers (Yang Sze even pops up at one point as a henchman), and all move through a well-conceived story, guided by a topnotch director. The wonky wirework is minimal and serves the same purpose as the transporter effects on STAR TREK: it shorthands some of the action and allows the story to move just a bit faster at times. Martial Arts Movie Loyalists (MAMLs) will appreciate this one.
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