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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
action-packed epic about love, betrayal, and heroism
Produced, directed, and written by Tsui Hark, SEVEN SWORDS is an action-packed epic about love, betrayal, and heroism. Starring Asia hottest stars, including award winning Hong Kong actor and singer Leon Lai (Three, Infernal Affairs 3), versatile actress Charlie Young (New Police Story, Fallen Angels), international action star Donnie Yen (Blade 3, Hero), award winning China actors Sun Hong-Lei (Zhou Yu's Train) and Lu Yi, and actress Kim So Yeon from Korea. With state of the art costume and set designs by Eddie Wong (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), and action direction by acclaimed martial arts choreographer, Lau Kar-Leung (Drunken Master 2).
Adapted from renowned writer Liang Yu-Shen timeless classic, SEVEN SWORDS tells the story of seven unlikely heroes gathered together to save a village from the massacre of a general that is seeking a fortune through killing. In the early 1600, the long ruling Ming Dynasty has been overthrown, and the Manchurian invaders from the north have taken over the sovereignty, beginning what is known as the Ching Dynasty, and a highly oppressive reign thus begins. In order to prevent rebels developing revolutionary plots, the newly set-up government immediately imposes a ruthless emergency martial law, ordering all martial art practitioners to turn in their weapons to district officials. Those who fail to do so will be considered committing a serious crime and would result to immediate execution. But soon enough, people would discover that even if they were to obey the law and turn in their weapon, their fate is equally in dire. Wind Fire, 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. After endless massacres, Wind Fire next goal is to attack the final frontier, the village of Bowei Fortress.
"Seven Swords" is set in 17th century Western China, where the greedy Manchurian leader Fire-Wind is intent on increasing both his coffers and his power. Hence, he sends his vicious henchmen and women out to plunder and pillage any small town that they set foot in. The horses seem to snarl and heads roll, literally. Overseas fans of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" and "House Of Flying Daggers" will find much to enjoy here, for Hark's villains are clearly dangerous and compelling, reminiscent of bloodthirsty goth rockers. Cold weather and the real life settings of Turfan and Xianjing add to the gritty realism.
Yet when Fire-Wind's men threaten Martial Village, the last outpost in Northwestern China, retired executioner Fu Zingzhu decides that he must round up some people to stop their murderous ways. He then recruits villagers Wu Yuanyin (Charlie Young) and Han Zhibeng) to travel to the mythical Mount Heaven to seek help. Once there, Chu Zhaonan, Yang Yunchong, Mulang and Xin Longzi agree to help stop Fire-Wind, and use specially made swords in their attempt. But things aren't as easy as they seem. It's seven men against Fire-Wind's army of hundreds. There are more complications for the group as one of them falls in love with the doomed Green Pearl, a beautiful Korean woman who is Fire-Wind's mistress against her will. For male viewers, Hark offers plenty of well choreographed martial arts influenced fight scenes. Females will revel in the film's epic adventurism, hints of a love story and breathtaking settings. Critics overseas are likely to praise the film as well, likening it to visual poetry which spreads itself out for nearly three hours.
The casting of veteran local singer/actor Leon Lai has raised some eyebrows, as he is better known as of late for local phone commercials than he has been for his film choices. However, he fares well here as Yang Yunchong, a well intentioned but flawed hero who wishes to dethrone Fire-Wind. Equally baffling was the casting of his co-star Charlie Young, best known of late for her appearances in fitness ads. Yet as Wu Yuanyin, she too fares admirably. However, much of the film's most memorable star heat certainly belongs to Sun Hong Lei's Fire-Wind, as well as Donnie Yen and Korean actress Kim So Yuen. Collectively, the trio make the most of their conflicted personalities, and it's their actions, glances and deeds that viewers will remember long after the credits have run. High production values and beautiful mountainous settings will also warrant repeat viewings amongst particularly avid viewers.
"Seven Swords" is said to be based on Lian Yu Shen's classic book. With characters and conflicts of the time firmly entrenched by film's end, Hark has been quoted as saying that "Seven Swords" could be to this decade what the "Once Upon A Time In China" series could be to the 90s. Let's hope so. For this film is an extremely bright beacon for Hong Kong cinema in 2005.
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