6.4/10
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By the Sword (1991)

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1:54 | Trailer
A mysterious man, Suba, gets himself a job at a fencing academy, and as he learns the way of the students, the school, and its maestro, they learn that there's more to him than meets the ... See full summary »

Director:

Jeremy Kagan (as Jeremy Paul Kagan)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
F. Murray Abraham ... Maximilian 'Max' Suba
Eric Roberts ... Alexander Villard
Mia Sara ... Erin Clavelli
Christopher Rydell ... Jim Trebor
Elaine Kagan ... Rachel
Brett Cullen ... Danny Gallagher
Doug Wert ... Hobbs
Sherry Hursey ... Tanos
Stoney Jackson ... Johnson
Caroline Barclay ... Tatiana
Peter Cohl Peter Cohl ... Calder
Stephen Polk ... Williams
Ennalls Berl Ennalls Berl ... Dana
Dharvi Darrell Dharvi Darrell ... Landlady
Eve Kagan Eve Kagan ... Daughter
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Storyline

A mysterious man, Suba, gets himself a job at a fencing academy, and as he learns the way of the students, the school, and its maestro, they learn that there's more to him than meets the eye. He gains (or regains?) his fencing skills and his philosophy of teaching clashes with the maestro's. As they are thrown into conflict, Suba and the maestro's past appear to be linked. And the resolution of their mysterious relationship may be a duel to the death. Written by Kathy Li

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

They come from everywhere to challenge their fate...

Genres:

Adventure | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 October 1992 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

A Espada da Justiça See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Alexander Villard: Do you ever get the feeling that you were born in the wrong age?
Max Suba: No. I appreciate modern plumbing.
Alexander Villard: You don't like me much, do you?
Max Suba: I think you are the greatest fencer that I've ever seen.
Alexander Villard: Ah. You don't like me at all.
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User Reviews

 
Were it not for the blood ...
29 March 2008 | by gherstein-1See all my reviews

There is not blood in this movie. The title of my comment has to do with the fact that, were it not for the blood, any contemporary Olympic style fencer could beat the tar out of a 16th or 17th Century duellist. The skills of a contemporary fencer are unmatchable; but the will to kill is something you cannot pick up in a fencing salle.

This difference plays a role in the story, as characters come to grips with their personal traumas and inner demons. The original movie One-Sheet is informative for the Spartan purity of its text:

.......By The Sword......

Live by it ..... Die by it .....

The folks who pule and whine about the "safety" issues in this film are as confoundingly ignorant of the definition of "metaphor" as are the historical purists who insist on mewling about the Russian roulette sequence in "Deer Hunter." This is not a documentary, so it simply beggars the imagination why anyone would be so ruthlessly misguided as to hold it up to documentary standards of factual accuracy.

This movie is a classic morality tale -- and a nicely crafted one at that -- told within the strictures of a fencing salle. Abrams and Roberts give fine performances, while Mia Sara, Chris Rydell, Elaine Kagan and others provide good support. The movie, for all of its obvious mythological framework, offers some nice insights into the reality of fencing. For example, when was the last time you saw an Errol Flynn movie devote so much attention to the *footwork* of sword play? (And for you non-fencers out there, here is a clue: fencing is *ALL* in the footwork; the sword is just there to let the other person know that they lost the bout.) At the level of world-class competition, the differences between life/death and win/lose engagements blur; personal trauma can blur them even more. It is only in confronting our demons that the distinctions return to us, and the genuinely meaningful things in life can be regained. That is why this film is a morality tale.

Filmatically, the cinematography bears some attention: so many subtle hues of brown that pop out rather than disappear under the surface. Bill Conti's score, particularly as it emphasizes classical guitar, is a joy all by itself. The images of stair-cases and the allegory of Jacob's Ladder appear throughout.


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