Very good martial arts but a very weak story as well.
It's a shame that the story for DEADLY BREAKING SWORD (FENG LUI DUAN JIAN XIAO DAO) is so weak, as the martial arts are very good in this Chinese film. It seems like they spent a lot of time and effort on choreographing the fights but the story was just too disjoint and not particularly interesting--mostly due to characters it was hard to love.
The film begins with a battle between the man with the breaking sword and a fighter with a halberd. It seems that the halberd user offended the other guy and so it's a fight to the death. Hmmm. You 'offend' this guy and he shows up with a coffin and is bent on your death? What a hot-head! There really is no back story to explain why he goes around killing people--only that he was 'offended'. Yeah, sure. What a jerk! Well, despite his best efforts, the halberd guy survives--thanks to an evil doctor.
In the meantime, another character becomes the focus of the film. A comical gambler who has amazing kung fu skills is introduced. As he's the comedy relief, he screws up and is good for a few laughs. However, he, too, has no real back story or motivation. So, when he and the breaking sword dude are pulled into a fight against the doctor, you are left wondering who to root for in these confrontations.
By the very end of the film, it's more obvious. The doctor is bad, the gambler is kind of good and the breaking sword dude is a hot-head...but generally good. Their final epic battle is done well and there's lots of great weapon use and tons of fake but realistic looking blood, but that's all. No real sense of a story or why the film was made in the first place--other than, of course, to showcase some excellent fighting. Still, compared to many of the "krap fu" films out there (the films with obviously fake fighting, terrible English dubbing and dumb gimmicks), this is a vastly superior film. I like that it came with both dubbed (uggh) and subtitled versions thanks to Image Entertainment and the Shaw Brothers.
Verdict--Very nice martial arts but not much else to distinguish it.
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