MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 6,376 this week

The Swordsman (1990)
"Xiao ao jiang hu" (original title)

TV-14  |   |  Action, History, Romance  |  27 January 1990 (Taiwan)
7.1
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,365 users  
Reviews: 14 user | 16 critic

When a scroll containing valuable martial arts secrets is stolen from the Emperor, an army detachment is sent to recover it. Blademaster, a young martial arts expert, accidentally ends up ... See full summary »

Writers:

(novel), , 5 more credits »
0Check in
0Share...

IMDb Picks: April

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in April.

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 31 titles
created 09 Mar 2013
 
a list of 30 titles
created 19 Mar 2013
 
a list of 89 titles
created 15 Jan 2014
 
a list of 35 titles
created 5 months ago
 
a list of 23 titles
created 2 months ago
 

Related Items

Search for "The Swordsman" on Amazon.com

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: The Swordsman (1990)

The Swordsman (1990) on IMDb 7.1/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of The Swordsman.
3 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Fantasy | Adventure | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

The sensitive swordsman Cho Yi-Hang is tired of his life. He is the unwilling successor to the Wu-Tang clan throne and the unsure commander of the clan's forces in a war against foreign ... See full summary »

Director: Ronny Yu
Stars: Brigitte Lin, Leslie Cheung, Francis Ng
Horror | Adventure | Action
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Chinese soldiers in an ancient civil war get caught up in a fantastical quest to save the universe.

Director: Hark Tsui
Stars: Biao Yuen, Adam Cheng, Brigitte Lin
Action | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Basically a retread of the first movie, in which the evil Tree Spirit is back with yet another ghost played by Joey Wong. The Swordsman Yen and Leslie Cheung characters are replaced by a ... See full summary »

Directors: Siu-Tung Ching, Hark Tsui
Stars: Jacky Cheung, Yiu-Sing Cheung, Choi-Chow Hoh
Duel to Death (1983)
Action | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

One of the last of the Old School Hong Kong martial arts flicks, this one deals with a legendary competition in swordplay and fighting that ends up being fought between two great warriors, ... See full summary »

Director: Siu-Tung Ching
Stars: Norman Chu, Damian Lau, Flora Cheung
Action | Comedy | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

Ning Tsai-Shen, a humble tax collector, arrives in a small town to carry out his work. Unsurprisingly, no-one is willing to give him shelter for the night, so he ends up spending the night ... See full summary »

Director: Siu-Tung Ching
Stars: Leslie Cheung, Joey Wang, Ma Wu
Dragon Inn (1967)
Action | Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

The Eunuch of the Emperor has ordered the commander of his army condemned to death for betrayal and insurrection. The commander's family was was murdered to cut off his bloodline, but his ... See full summary »

Director: King Hu
Stars: Lingfeng Shangguan, Chun Shih, Ying Bai
Action | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

In the sequel to the Tsui Hark classic, Wong Fei-Hung faces The White Lotus society, a fanatical cult seeking to drive the Europeans out of China through violence, even attacking Chinese ... See full summary »

Director: Hark Tsui
Stars: Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Siu Chung Mok
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

Set in late 19th century Canton this martial arts film depicts the stance taken by the legendary martial arts hero Wong Fei-Hung (1847-1924) against foreign forces' (English, French and ... See full summary »

Director: Hark Tsui
Stars: Jet Li, Biao Yuen, Rosamund Kwan
Action | Horror | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A journalist attempting to solve a mystery in "Martial World" enlists the aid of a master fighter and a woman named Green Breeze. They go to a mysterious castle where they come across poisonous butterflies and a black-leather-clad killer.

Director: Hark Tsui
Stars: Siu-Ming Lau, Michelle Yim, Shu Tong Wong
Action | Adventure | Biography
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

Master Wong and his disciples enroll in the 'Dancing Lion Competition' to stop an assassination plot and to battle an arrogant, deceitful opponent.

Director: Hark Tsui
Stars: Jet Li, Rosamund Kwan, Siu Chung Mok
Action | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

With an entirely new set of actors, this movie continues the story from Swordsman (1990). Blademaster and his martial arts school decide to retire to a distant mountain. Before leaving, he ... See full summary »

Directors: Siu-Tung Ching, Stanley Tong
Stars: Jet Li, Brigitte Lin, Michelle Reis
The Banquet (1991)
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Film with a weak plot about an businessman trying to clinch a deal for the reconstruction of Kuwait after the Gulf War from a Kuwaiti prince. The climax of the movie is a banquet/dinner at ... See full summary »

Directors: Alfred Cheung, Tung Cho 'Joe' Cheung, and 2 more credits »
Stars: Anthony Chan, Pak-Cheung Chan, Philip Chan
Edit

Cast

Credited cast:
Samuel Hui ...
Cecilia Yip ...
Jacky Cheung ...
Sharla Cheung ...
Fennie Yuen ...
Blue Phoenix (as Fanny Yuen)
...
Ngok (as Siu Ming Lau)
Ma Wu ...
Lau (as Ma Wo)
Ching-Ying Lam ...
Kuk (as Ching Ying Lam)
...
Zhor
Shun Lau ...
The Eunuch
Ming Man Cheung ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yiu-Sing Cheung
Sing Kwong Lai
Chi Ming Lau ...
(as Chi Ming Liu)
Edit

Storyline

When a scroll containing valuable martial arts secrets is stolen from the Emperor, an army detachment is sent to recover it. Blademaster, a young martial arts expert, accidentally ends up in possession, but the plot grows complex as Japanese samurai, an illegal Chinese sect, a tribe of snake-wielding women warriors, a rival martial arts school and the leader of his own martial arts school vie for the scroll. Romantic complications also ensue, involving him with his longtime chum, daughter of the leader of his school, a Japanese woman, and two of the snake- wielding tribeswomen (Blue Phoenix and their leader, Princess Yin-Yin). Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

27 January 1990 (Taiwan)  »

Also Known As:

Swordsman  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Connections

Version of Laughing in the Wind (2001) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A Nutshell Review: (DVD) Swordsman (1990)
22 December 2006 | by (Singapore) – See all my reviews

Which brings us to Swordsman, or as the novel titled, The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, whom Chow Yun-Fat took on the title Linghu Chong role in a TVB serial of old. Swordsman is part of a loose trilogy of sorts, the sequels being Swordsman II starring an almost different cast in leading roles, and Swordsman: The East is Red, made solely to capitalize on the popularity of actress Lin Ching-Hsia who made her memorable comeback role as The Invincible Dawn from the second movie. Amongst the three, Swordsman is still my favourite, even though Swordsman II had more fantastical fighting sequences, no doubt made more exciting by the charismatic presence of pugilist Jet Li. Swordsman: The East is Red, was largely wasted, and save for Lin, none of the other cast members returned, and had a totally unrelated story from the original medium.

Not that Swordsman stuck closely to the intended Louis Cha version. As mentioned, plot lines were compressed, and characters sometimes appear and disappear with hardly a fight. What worked, was how the movie managed to sample the spirit of the novel, and translate it for the screen. The script and plot was kept tight, and revolved around the intense search for a missing martial arts manual, called Kui Hua Bao Dian, which is known to give the practitioner extreme prowess, as demonstrated in the sequel Swordsman II, but with a price.

Double crossings, hidden intentions, quest for power - these are familiar themes which are played to perfection by the characters, save for one pair, our heroes Linghu Chong and Kiddo, who are caught in the web of intrigue. In short, the movie pretty much summarized the battles and craftiness of the characters in their thirst for the book, and ultimately, we see the disillusionment of Linghu Chong in matters of "jiang hu", as sung in the song Xiao Ao Jiang Hu.

And oh, the song! If there's a song that maketh the movie, Swordsman will immediately spring to mind. It's an infectious earworm, but what elevated its status rather than being just another song played during the credits or relegated to background music, was its involvement as a plot element, in the bonding of friendship, the expression of disillusionment, and also, being so integral to the development of the story, in the form of revelation of true intentions.

Naturally, since the song is important, the God of Songs of the time, Sam Hui, was casted as Linghu Chong. There were reported protests against the casting of Sam, because of his lack of martial arts background, but I would like to beg to differ. Yes he's not a natural pugilist, but don't forget, the characterization is key upon deciding who gets casted. His interpretation and portrayal of Linghu Chong, in my opinion, is spot on (miles better than Jet Li), bringing a dash of suave and impish slyness, together with strong vocals and that devil may care attitude. Stuntmen were probably roped in to handle the complex fighting stances, especially when Linghu Chong executes his Du Gu Jiu Jian (Du Gu's Nine Swords), a reputable and formidable swordsplay technique able to counter any attacks, but hey, more than half the martial arts movie out there, have stunt folk fighting in the place of actors.

The rest of the cast were also top notch, like Yueh Wah, Cecilia Yip, Cheung Mun and even Jacky Cheung in a rare villainous role, although it was a pity that for the sequel, almost all of them were replaced, yet by another strong lineup like Rosamund Kwan, Michelle Reis, Jet Li, and of course, Lin Ching-hsia.

With a rich, strong story containing the essence, adequate interesting fighting sequences, awesome cast and memorable song, it's hard to find what's not to like about Swordsman. Never mind the rumoured reports that director King Hu actually walked out of the project halfway, and had folks like Ann Hui, Ching Tsui-Tong, and even Tsui Hark himself amongst others take over in a collaborative effort, this movie delivers, and will forever remain one of my favourites of the martial arts genre.


2 of 4 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
The song z3fyrus
Wrong Poster reiyi
Low-cost Hong Kong Legends DVDs available in UK Matti-Man
Discuss The Swordsman (1990) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?