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The Deadly Breaking Sword (1979)
"Feng liu duan jian xiao xiao dao" (original title)

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 130 users  
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Title: The Deadly Breaking Sword (1979)

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Credited cast:
Lung Ti ...
Tuan Changqing, the Deadly Breaking Sword
Sheng Fu ...
Xiao Dao, the Little Dagger
Szu Shih ...
Liu Yinxu
Feng Ku ...
Doctor Guo Tiansheng
Wai-Man Chan ...
Lian San, the Throat-Piercing Halberd
Lily Li ...
Luo Jinhua
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Fei Ai ...
Chen Yinggang
Kwok Kuen Chan
Shen Chan ...
Fan Fei
Han Chiang
Kin Ping Chow
Yue Fong ...
(as Yu Fang)
Ping Ha ...
Lixiang Brothel manager
Kara Hui ...
Ling Ling Hung


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Release Date:

4 December 1979 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

The Deadly Breaking Sword  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


On September 17th, 1978, Fu Sheng suffered a serious injury when he was suspended 8 feet in the air and the wire that held him snapped. He fell 8 feet backwards on his head, crashing through an urn, almost breaking his neck. See more »

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User Reviews

much better than others let on, certainly an undiscovered classic
20 January 2013 | by See all my reviews

Unjustly seen as sort of a lesser Sun Chung wuxia, and lesser Shaw Bros movie in general, The Deadly Breaking Sword delivers in just about every way a film of this nature can deliver. By now you should know enough to ignore anything anyone says about Shaws flicks, anyway. I mean, Five Deadly Venoms--now THAT'S a lesser film, yet somehow that's seen as some sort of magnum opus in the US. I guess because RZA and co. saw it.

Anyway, this one follows a slightly Django-esque, coffin-carrying master swordsman who, after nearly killing a challenger who wields a spear, goes into town and gets over his head in some sketchy business. (Oh, and about the title, he breaks little pieces of his sword off in the bodies of people he kills for some reason.) The spear man, seeking revenge, voluntarily becomes the guinea pig of a strange doctor and through some nonsense alchemy becomes some sort of proto-super saiyan demigod with white hair. There are some dark, shadowy pasts (of course) and a vaguely Jackie Chan-esque bumbling foil to the chauvinistic, stoic protagonist thrown into the mix (a sign of SB awkwardly trying to keep up with the times in the late 70s, but it sorta works in context).

Sun Chung notoriously--sort of notoriously, anyway--hated having anything to do with directing action, and it's evident in all of his work. The action's not without ingenuity and some truly striking bloodshed, but it's mostly rather clumsy and laborious. Which is fine by me--I'm not here for "realistic" or hard-hitting action, I tend to be here for the the atmosphere, the absurdity, or maybe even the plot. And the plot delivers, in sort of an east-meets-west western sort of way; it's got showdowns in dusty ghost towns, the tragic prostitute who uses mercenaries to get her revenge, you name it. The real draw is probably Ti Lung's character, who manages to break out of his icy shell a little bit by the end of the movie, as a nice change of pace for these movies.

This isn't the easiest nut to crack, or rather, it's not the easiest movie to relate to, and in a cryptic way that's exactly where its power is. After the last slightly hamfistedly tragic moment, as the theme song--this orchestral ode to chivalry and bloodshed--tinnily rings out, you're not exactly emotionally gutted, but you respect it, and there's a strange power to that; the distance this movie puts between itself and you is a dreamy sort of science. When you're half in it, and half aware of the theater of it all, that's the kind of thing that reminds you symbolism is everything, and inspires cognizance of your own involvement in this silly web of deception, dusty character archetypes, et al.

Something tells me the decision to set the final battle (and many other scenes) in a big greenish room full of crude paintings of mountains and wilderness wasn't just a stylistic move. This is one of those weird cases where rather than coming off as "generic", a film asserts itself as a continuation of a lineage, a tradition, a series of conventions that all tell their own stories. There's something very abstract about this one, as stately and literal as it seems to be.

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