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The Blade (1995)
"Dao" (original title)

7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,144 users  
Reviews: 35 user | 15 critic

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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Title: The Blade (1995)

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Ding On
Xin Xin Xiong ...
Fei Lung
Sonny Song ...
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

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Drama | Action

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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 The One-Armed Swordsman (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Impressive and dark swordplay film by Tsui Hark
25 December 2002 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Tsui Hark's Dao aka The Blade (Hong Kong, 1995) is an updating of the old one armed swordsman legend that also has been depicted earlier in the history of Hong Kong cinema. Tsui's new vision is something that dropped my jaws now that I watched it for the third time after many years and without remembering almost anything about it. The film turned out to be among the best Hong Kong cinema miracles from the nineties I've seen so far.

Vincent Zhao Wen Zhuo aka Chiu Man Cheuk is Ting On and Moses Chan Ho is Iron Head and they're both very loyal to their master, an old monk who has teched them during their young lives. The film's narrator and lead female is Ling (Song Lei) who is secretly in love with both of the men but is not quite sure which one will be her loved one. Soon a violent murder takes place, a hand gets chopped off and revenge comes to mind, but none of the characters seem to care or think about their emotions but only to go after their insticts which in this case are mostly about violence and getting even. What follows is more or less (usually more) amazing imagery and bits of sword fighting from this unique film maker of East.

The film depicts people without the willing or ability to express their emotions and that's why many of the reviews seem to dislike the film telling the characters are very cold and inhuman. Of course the film would have needed an example among its characters of how a brighter life could be achieved but still the coldness and lack of expressing emotions is not there without its purpose because this is exactly the film's theme. The ending, the imagined happiness, is fortunately there but still I think there should have been more contrast to the characters' inability to be like a feeling human being. This film is pretty pessimistic as it hasn't any happy or "natural" characters at all, but since we know (those who dare to accept these sides in themselves) what kind of a creature human being is, films like this start to make much more sense and force us to look at the mirror. Would you have gone to take revenge if you were in the one armed swordsman's shoes?

The visuals here are quite amazing and this belongs alongside Ringo Lam's Burning Paradise (1994) and Billy Chung's The Assassin (1993) to the Hong Kong's hyper dark martial art films that never are as near as "light" and also humorous as some Once Upon a Time in China (1991) for instance or other box office hits. Hardly any mainstream audience will like films like Dao because they lack almost every possible entertaining or pleasant element that can be found in Hong Kong martial arts films. The film is very dark and haunting especially when the guy has lost his arm and is training in agony in the misty and menacing house with hysterical female (this character is also very bad and should not have been so noisy and really brainless all the time) taking care of him. Again the smoke and darkness is something that I simply cannot mention having found in too many Western films.

The action is so incredible it again makes me wonder how they edit their films like this. The editor in Dao is Kam Ma who has also edited John Woo's A Better Tomorrow films (1986 and 1987) among many others. The action scenes consist of many close ups and unconventional camera movements that create the kind of hysterical impact I can remember from Jackie Chan's Drunken Master 2 (1994) for example. The action goes even further in the final 15 minutes during the big fight when all the main characters finally get to take their mission to the end. This end fight is like the mind blowingly incredible finale in John Woo's A Better Tomorrow 2, choreographed by the great Ching Siu Tung: both of these finales get so over the top and (thus) separated from the rest of the film that it gets even surreal and thus makes the film's own world look even more impressive and striking and hammers the message and images to the viewer's head. The blood sprayed in these both cases is much more than just results of blade cutting flesh as it all depicts things from our main characters and their values much more effectively and graphically (to say the least) than words likely could. The finale in Dao is among the most jaw dropping scenes from any Hong Kong film of all time and once again these makers have shown their talent and capacity. Dao is not only very dark film, it is also very violent and has sudden bursts of very angry gore during the film and of course mostly in the mentioned last fight. Since there are no any real heros, no good characters and not too much sunshine in Dao, it is easy to expect that sadly this kind of film won't appeal to masses but considering that it starts to look even more valuable that films like these get still made despite that fact.

Dao also lacks all the possible stupid bits of dialogue that often can be found in Hong Kong films. The mentioned female in On's new apartment of course excluded. The film has some very effective silent scenes which is pretty rare in Hong Kong films I think. Especially the montage during On's painful training sequence is very effective as well as some of the scenes depicting Iron Head's unwillingness to use violence in the bar filled with drunken men. He just watches and tries to hold his temper and not hurt anyone. Details like these tell much more about the characters than any fastly and badly written unnatural words ever could.

Dao is a stunning experience even with its flaws and if they were corrected and fixed, this film would really be a masterpiece and maybe perfect of its kind. Now it definitely is a masterpiece of its maker, Tsui Hark, and it has the kind of potential and power that keeps on reminding the admirers of Eastern cinema of what makes these films so unique, precious and overwhelming. 8/10


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