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The Blade (1995)

Dao (original title)
After the master of the Sharp Manufacturer saber factory abdicates and appoints On, his least popular worker, as his successor, On, unwilling to lead his surly colleagues, embarks on a ... See full summary »

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Ding On
Xin Xin Xiong ...
Fei Lung
Sonny Su ...
Siu Ling (as Nei Song)
...
Courtesan (Guest star)
...
Fast Sabre (Guest star) (as Sing Ngai)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Chi Fai Chan
Moses Chan ...
Iron Head
Szu-Ying Chien ...
Grandmother (as Tsi-Ang Chin)
Kin-sang Chow ...
(as Chow Kin-Sang)
Jason Chu
Bik-Ha Chung
Wing-Chan 'Emily' Chung
Ka-Kui Ho
Ricky Ho
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Storyline

After the master of the Sharp Manufacturer saber factory abdicates and appoints On, his least popular worker, as his successor, On, unwilling to lead his surly colleagues, embarks on a quest of revenge to kill the evil, flying, tattooed kung fu master who killed his father. Written by Erik Gregersen <erik@astro.as.utexas.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Action

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Details

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Release Date:

21 December 1995 (Hong Kong)  »

Also Known As:

The Blade  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of Quentin Tarantino's 20 Favourite Movies from 1992 to 2009. See more »

Goofs

The tattoos on Fei Lung's chest disappear when Ding On throws the blade at his throat in the finale. See more »

Connections

Remake of One-Armed Swordsman (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A furious revisionist kungfu movie.
24 April 2000 | by (Montreal, Canada) – See all my reviews

The Blade is a whirlwind of blood, dust, and psychedelic colour. Beneath its rough, brutal appearance lies an uncompromising and technically evolved offering from Hong Kong's prolific director/producer giant Tsui Hark. Based on the old-school kung-fu classic The One-Armed Swordsman, The Blade tells the story of a young man adopted by a renowned blacksmith, who discovers that his true father was killed by superstitiously powerful bandit named Lung, "who it is said can fly!".

When he impulsively goes out seeking revenge, he runs afoul of a gang of desert scum and loses his right arm in the encounter. Ashamed, he goes into hiding but after finding an broken weapon and the tatters of an old swordfighting manual, he begins to come to terms with his self-loathing, and eventually learns to compensate for his loss. With half a sword, half a technique, and still one arm short of a pair, he returns to his old home to confront both his past and the man who murdered his father.

A simple tale of vengeful perseverance here gets a nihilistic gritty art-house treatment. The action takes place in an amoral, almost post-apocalyptic desert landscape. Hark's camera speeds around with abandon, capturing both the bleak setting and the lush expressive palette of the characters' internal emotional landscape. In terms of camera style and visual dynamism, this is Hark's most adventurous film. Although seemingly frantic, it is never random. The cinematography bears a meticulous attention to detail, and the editing has a razor-sharp rhythm of its own.

There's a lot going on under the surface here. The simple story is fleshed out with a dark sensuality. Along with themes of surmounting obstacles through hard work, and misplaced honour in a harsh and selfish world (kung fu movie essentials), we find commentary on lust, gender, and simple pragmatism as well. Early on, a Shaolin monk, icon of heroism, meets a grisly, inglorious end, signifying that this is not just another heroic martial-arts fantasy. And yet heroism survives, in the form of a crippled man with a broken, cleaver-like weapon... just one more way The Blade offers new twists on old conventions.

This being a Hong Kong martial-arts movie, the action is to be noted. Where fluid idealized wushu forms might normally prevail, a certain street-level grittiness and desperation takes hold. Even when characters are performing incredible feats, you find yourself thinking "So this is what kung-fu fighting was really like."

Although Chiu Cheuk and villainous Xiong Xin Xin can certainly deliver spectacular physical displays (as seen in Hark's later Once Upon A Time in China films), in The Blade the camera and editing take the lead. While some reviewers tend to forget the "cinema" part of "martial arts cinema", and complain that much of the action is concealed by the breakneck editing and moving camera, there is still an impressive amount of wushu on display in this film, and the frenzied cutting serves to heighten the excitement and the abilities of the performers, even without implied supernatural powers or gratuitous wire stunts. As a result, the final 15 minutes of this movie frame possibly some of the most furious, breathless, vicious fight sequences in cinema history.

Believe it!


9 of 11 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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