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In the early 1600's, the Manchurians have taken over sovereignty of China and established the Ching Dynasty. While many nationalist revolts still brew within the martial artists' community, the newly set-up government immediately imposes a Martial Arts Ban, forbidding the practice of martial arts altogether in order to gain control and order. Wind Fire (Sun Hong-Lei), a surrendered military official from the previous dynasty, sees this as an opportunity to make a fortune for himself by helping to execute the new law. Greedy, cruel, and immoral, Wind Fire ravages the North-western China, and his next goal is to attack the final frontier, Martial Village. Fu Qingzhu, a retired executioner from the previous dynasty, feels the need to put a stop to this brutality and sets out to save Bowei Fortress. He brings Wu Yuanyin and Han Zhiban from the village with him to Mount Heaven to seek help from Master Shadow-Glow, a hermit who is a master of swords and leads a group of disciples of great ... Written by
A life-changing cinema possessed by the GOD of celluloid who's name is TSUI HARK
I was watching Seven Swords on recommendation and i thought i would hate it...how wrong i was. It's clear to me that i was watching a classic from the first opening credit beautifully accompanied by a very memorable musical heroic theme. Then 30 minutes in the movie, imagine my surprise when i was in an instant watching easily one of the relevant Wuxia movies of this and last century. Which is even helped by the fact that Liang Yusheng was praising Tsui Hark's accomplishment in the film adaptation of his Wuxia pian novel "Seven Swordsmen Descending Mount Heaven". Although, only by the film's end credits i was sure i watched definitely one of the truly greatest movies ever made.
The film starts with a carnage of some villagers filmed by such an unprecedented innovative and inimitable style never before even imagined or conceived on paper let alone being put on celluloid in such a form. On the surface the plot may seem similar to Seven Samurai but don't be misled, as this similarity will vanish into thin air within a couple of minutes because this film goes in a totally different direction with its purely Chinese sensitivity for its fundamental themes of the responsibility and unification that can altogether defeat all the higher repressing authority which in this case beautifully reflects the Chinese government and Chinese/Hong Kongese concerns of our present era. Seven Swords is unlike any recent so-much-they-wanted-to-call wuxias, this undeniably transcendent masterpiece goes to show the art of how to make a very intricate character development and to emphasize a very human side of all of the swords-and-men (to various degrees, as depends on the sequels). I think it's very clear that this film along with Lord of the Rings and Kill Bills establishing a new trend of a sophisticated strategy of making the movies - wherein a number of sequels would in fact formulate just a one long movie, especially in terms of the continuous plot/story arc or the resolution of the main characters needs and goals. But it's more than that as this film also marks and reinvents a possible new era of certain realistic type of wuxia movies already abandoned a long time ago when Chang Cheh and King Hu were still at their prime.
Tsui Hark - one of the true greatest filmmakers of all time - is very known for his incredible originality and overwhelming innovative mastery of this medium in the world; especially in reference to the kinetic camera movement, story-telling, cinematography, music, editing, screen writing.... production designer, actor, painter, magician, theologian, politician, philosopher.... good God, what else, this genius will never have enough credits.. Simply put, Seven Swords is just another addition to his long line of masterpieces that literally paralysed half of the world up to this day.
What's relevant to point out that we're talking about a quite historical event in its radical reinvention of the genre we've been waiting for the last almost 30 years. Tsui Hark is literally stealing back and saving the film genre he practically owns, because in fact he's been reinventing it more than anyone else in the Asian film history; impressing, isn't it, everything just for the salvation of the Chinese culture that's slowly fading away with the current globalization.
Of course, we had a few examples of the Wuxia pian on film like Hero, CTHD, but the reality is that what we got was more or less just a modernization and basically a deviation from the core of this cultural genre. I can honestly admit that Hero added some new aspects in the genre, but it's also a little extension of what we've already seen in East is Red, Swordsman II or Bride With White Hair. From my long experience reading wuxia novels since the childhood (like my favorite Gong Li's Death Duel, Jin Yong's Condor Lovers or Laughing With Pride In Jianghu) i daresay that Seven Swords is one of the closest film adaptations to the spirit and the core implied in the literature.
As the film Hero, even Seven Swords is just an update of what we've seen before but also introducing, very innovatively, the humanistic aspects pertaining to the very essence of the swords that quite effectively reflecting the human mind and soul of their swordsmen. That was never before translated on screen like here. Not to mention the film's certain gritty reality (what King Hu used to be known for) brought back to the modern time. We have possibly never seen such film reality in this genre for more then 20 years!! That is probably the biggest novelty presented in this film. If it will influence other filmmakers or set new trademarks on the Hong Kong cinema is just another story and a matter of time, but that doesn't change the "fact" that Tsui Hark single-handedly recreated, revitalized, resurrected the type of genre that was almost 30 years dead! That's what i call an achievement. It's just enough when it's a good addition and says something valuable to this cultural genre.
The story is very basic and simple, yet, the film is not so much about the story as rather about the characters' musings about their past and rectifying of their sins. The film is a study of the human soul and condition (wittingly or not) inspired by Dostojevsky's Brothers Karamazov's ideology about the human self-realization and finding of the peace and comprehension. The ending of the Seven Swords is possibly the most illuminative, lyrical and the most soulful in the history of cinema and i believe the mark as a "legendary" won't certainly go so easily omitted in the future either.
I'm sure i'll never forget this eventful movie to the end of my life! Honestly, i'm quite on the brink of the tears while i'm writing this... for Seven Swords will yet change a lot for the future generations. This is just a beginning. Believe me!
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