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"Sentimental Swordsman" epitomizes the film era of Later Old School, which were martial arts films that came out later 70s and early 80s. They bridge the gap between the early 70s chop socky fests and the New Wave wire-flyers of Tsui Hark, et al. LOS works tended to have more lavish budgets than Early Old School, firmly established stars and directors entering their prime, and much more complex plots.
The story begins with a nobleman in exile, with his trusty sidekick in tow, walking through a melancholy snowy landscape. He is returning home to protect a woman he reluctantly left to protect her from the elusive Plum Blossom Bandit. Through a series of betrayals, he is accused of being the villain in question. He spends a good deal of the film protesting his innocence, with words and fists. It was a fantastic performance by Shaw Brothers legend Ti Lung. Another standout performance is Derek Yee (Er Tung-sheng), who plays Ti Lung's comrade-in-arms. He's another wandering sword-for-hire who doesn't suffer fools gladly, but repays respect with loyalty. The film features beautiful cinematography, including one lovingly shot scene of a fight in a plum blossom garden. Sentimental Swordsman is a solid sword flick, and one of director Chu Yuan's better efforts.
There are the inevitable cheeseball elements, such as the Plum Blossom Bandit's pink ninja outfit and the rather dubious martial art of snake hurling, but hey, this is Shaw Brothers. Fans of the genre will find it only adds to its appeal.
A worthy addition to your Kung Fu library.
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