Sword Mates is a pre-old-school martial arts movie from Shaw Brothers that I would recommend to any fan of the Shaw Brothers martial arts genre. I label it pre-old-school because most of the martial arts is done by actors with no martial arts training and they almost always use swords. If anyone is watching to spot Sammo Hung (I admit I'm watching for him too!)he appears at about the 1:08:50 time mark in black and gold as one of the barbarian king's guards. The plot and the characters here hold up quite well. Without revealing too much we have the bonus of a bad guy who appears at first to be a good guy and a good guy who is mistaken for a bad guy. Back to the actors not having any real martial arts skills. I love the way that they appear to have skills because it is really the stunt men, who do have skills, that sell the fight. This movie absolutely proves that concept. Right up until the final scene the fighting appears good, especially for 1969. The whole thing falls apart when the three main actors go against each other at the end. The moves are clumsy, off target, and weak. I think the director realized it too and just added a lot of people jumping over each other to try and distract from it. Other than that I urge all fans of this genre to enjoy a good show.
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