Over the years, kung fu films have picked up the reputation of being thin on plot. Anyone going into HEAVEN SWORD AND DRAGON SABRE thinking this will be in for an enormous shock.
Very simply, the story follows the exploits of Cheung Mo-Kei (played by now director/writer Derek Yee), a child of a doomed romance between a swordsman from one of the major (i.e., 'righteous') martial arts clans and a woman from the Ming Cult. Cheung finds himself orphaned and poisoned at a young age. He's also the only person who knows the whereabouts of his godfather, the Golden Lion King, a master martial artist of the Ming Cult and possessor of the all-powerful Dragon Sabre. Through a series of adventures, Cheung is cured of his poison, learns tremendously powerful fighting techniques, and finds his loyalties tested by the righteous clans and the Ming Cult. All the while, he and many others of the martial arts world seek to unite the Dragon Sabre with its sister blade, the Heaven Sword, for legend says that the two will reveal a secret of great power when brought together.
Again, the above is a simplification of the plot. Like other Chor Yuen movies, the story is as rich as the landscape. The sets, the costumes, and the sheer number of characters is quite impressive for a martial arts epic of this era and will be a treat for anyone who enjoys lavish productions.
Derek Yee spearheads a rather sizeable cast and plays the lead hero straightfaced throughout. His fighting abilities do not threaten to supplant other stars of that period (such as Gordon Liu) but they are adequate for the effects-laden fights in the story.
For anyone who is wondering, this movie tells the same story as THE KUNG FU CULT MASTER (http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0108624) starring Jet Li. The two films even end on the roughly the same cliffhanger. For those of you who always wondered how KFCM would end, see this film and its conclusion, HEAVEN SWORD AND DRAGON SABRE 2.
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