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The Magic Blade (1976)
"Tien ya ming yue dao" (original title)

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(as Chu Yuan)


(novel), , 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lung Ti ...
Lieh Lo ...
Yen Nan-fei
Li Ching ...
Tsao Yu-chen
Ni Tien ...
Mingyue Hsin 'Moonlight Heart'
Lily Li ...
'Lute' Yu Chin
Feng Ku ...
'Sword' Hsiao Chien
Ching Tang ...
'Sire' Kung-tzu Yu
Szu-Chia Chen ...
Hsiao Ke-Lien 'Pity'
Hui-Ling Liu ...
Tang Hsi
Mei Sheng Fan ...
'Book' Wu Shi
Teresa Hsia Ping ...
Devil's Granny
Shen Chan ...
Kung Sun-shao
Norman Chu ...
'Chess' Ku Chi
Kuan-chung Ku ...
Do-Ching Tzu
Miao Ching ...
Tsui Shui-ching


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Plot Keywords:

based on novel | See All (1) »


Action | Drama


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Release Date:

7 October 1976 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

The Magic Blade  »

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Referenced in A Warrior's Tragedy 2 (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

proverb in motion
25 December 2012 | by See all my reviews

Just as you need to understand Chang Cheh's bloodsoaked sensibilities to fully appreciate his films, or Lau Kar-leung's martial pacifism to understand his, Chor Yuen's films all sort of came from the same place, and it helps to try to absorb his style. Like the rest of his wuxias, The Magic Blade has this sort of dreamy, half-awake flow, and poetic musing is given as much weight as action or narrative. Plot is subservient to the moral, like in an old legend: "then the heroes went to the house of the jade-whatever, and it was revealed that... blah blah. Therefore, don't be greedy." It plays out like a proverb in motion, for better or worse. And it looks the part; whereas Shaws' reliance on fake stages was an obstacle for other directors, Yuen used them to reinforce the otherworldly, dreamlike atmosphere he always went for. Almost every frame is composed like a painting: a crescent moon hangs in the darkness illuminating the leaves. A tumbleweed blows under eerie red lanterns in a pitch-black ghost town. Hexagonal walkways gently adorn an indoor pond. It's really a beautiful film, bordering on tacky at times.

Don't think that the result is stifled by formality or slowness, because Yuen really went all-out with the craziness here--the body count is probably the highest I've seen in a Shaws film. People explode, get sliced in half, assassins fly out of walking trees (??), evil old cannibal lady called "Devil Grandma" cooks people alive, and the macguffin is a bunch of peacock feathers that explode into a cheap (but apparently fatal) light show when thrown. I'm probably forgetting a ton of stuff, but you get at least five kung-fu films' worth of weirdness if you're coming from more of a grindhouse perspective.

There is a certain drowsiness that hangs over the proceedings because the protagonists are portrayed as almost deity-like in their power, but at least a slight sense of danger is maintained by their adversaries' omniscience; they don't travel five feet without being followed by conspiratorial whispers or ominous signs of some kind. The early scene where they walk into a teahouse filled with perfectly still bodies is genuinely creepy. Anyway, I never really differentiated between boredom and pleasant drowsiness before I saw Yuen's movies, just like Burzum or Bruckner can make you sleepy without being "boring" music.

The best Shaw Bros film? Definitely in my top five, at gunpoint.

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