7.0/10
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15 user 18 critic

The Swordsman (1990)

Siu ngo gong woo (original title)
A kung-fu manual known as the sacred scroll is stolen from the Emperor's library. An army detachment is sent to recover it. Meanwhile, a young swordsman and his fellow disciple are accidentally drawn into the chaos.

Writers:

Louis Cha (novel), Ying Wong | 5 more credits »
Reviews
4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Credited cast:
Samuel Hui ... Ling Wu Chung
Cecilia Yip ... Kiddo
Jacky Cheung ... Au Yeung Kuen
Man Cheung ... Yam Ying Ying (as Sharla Cheung)
Fennie Yuen ... Blue Phoenix (as Fanny Yuen)
Siu-Ming Lau ... Ngok (as Siu Ming Lau)
Wu Ma ... Lau (as Wo Ma)
Ching-Ying Lam ... Kuk (as Ching Ying Lam)
Wah Yuen ... Zhor
Shun Lau ... The Eunuch
Ming Man Cheung Ming Man Cheung ... Luk Ta Yau
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Yiu-Sing Cheung Yiu-Sing Cheung
Shan Chin ... Lam Jan Nam
Sing Kwong Lai Sing Kwong Lai
Chi-Ming Lau
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Storyline

When a scroll containing valuable martial arts secrets is stolen from the Emperor, an army detachment is sent to recover it. Blademaster, a young martial arts expert, accidentally ends up in possession, but the plot grows complex as Japanese samurai, an illegal Chinese sect, a tribe of snake-wielding women warriors, a rival martial arts school and the leader of his own martial arts school vie for the scroll. Romantic complications also ensue, involving him with his longtime chum, daughter of the leader of his school, a Japanese woman, and two of the snake- wielding tribeswomen (Blue Phoenix and their leader, Princess Yin-Yin). Written by Reid Gagle

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Action | History

Certificate:

TV-14 | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Hong Kong | Taiwan

Language:

Cantonese | Mandarin

Release Date:

27 January 1990 (Taiwan) See more »

Also Known As:

Xiao ao jiang hu See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

King Hu was credited as the director but he allegedly left the project midway, and the film was completed by a team led by producer Hark Tsui. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in God of Gamblers II (1990) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Over-the-top martial arts done right but...
25 January 2001 | by ZabadohSee all my reviews

...the plot needs to be tightened up a bit.

The first in Tsui Hark's Swordsman trilogy of movies adapted from a book or series of books (I'm not sure which) suffers from a wandering plotlines that seem to go nowhere. Interesting characters appear briefly to show off, then suddenly drop out of the plotline. In other movie adaptations, this happens in an effort to stay true to the book, but I, being chinese illiterate, can't tell you whether that's true for this series.

Despite the scattered presentation, the thrust of the plot seems to have a strong overall direction, perhaps thanks to the novel(s). The bad guys are well established as both evil and deadly. A few stereotypes are thrown into the mix. Not many people in the American audience "got" the female voiceover for the eunuch. A theme of betrayal is used effectively.

The martial arts work is good! Characters magically fly through the air and attack each other with kinetic ferocity. They destroy various objects wit h invisible forces from their palms or flicks(!) with ease thanks to slick editing and some simple effects. The effects fly at you so fast that it all seems believable. Yet Swordsman I is only a preview of a more masterful use of this stable of effects in Swordsman II.

Main complaint is that Song. Anyone who sees the movie will know the Song I'm talking about! Maybe because of casting Sam Hui, a by-then-aging HK pop star, the Song, gets repeated as a musical number no less than 3 times, including once as a flashback! Perhaps that's why he was replaced in the role by Jet Li in the sequel.

I found the English subtitling to be of the usual poor accuracy.


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