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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
Everything from the characters, swords, romance, action, scenery, editing, wonderful dialogues, art direction is enormously memorable to me. I saw the film at the Toronto film festival last year and since then i still could not put so many of these details, especially the characters and images out of my mind. What i started to more appreciate in this film with the coming years is quite neglected and unprecedented in sword-play movies: the strong emphasis on the characters background and development, which has ironically become the most distinctive and memorable mark of this film. One can feel how the Seven Swords background abounds with those remarkable ideas and touches that could be witnessed only in dozens of Tsui Hark's other works. If there's anything that will make this awesome film stand out, it's that innovative technique, because i have quite simply never seen anything like this before, and i have a collection consisting of nearly thousand Asian films including the martial arts, Chinese historical dramas and many other genre classics.
However, i have to admit that i was quite disappointed by this film the first time i saw it, but is a little surprising to me how this film truly grew upon me, this movie simply gets better and better and i'd do anything to take back what i said about this film a couple of months ago. Although, it must be admitted (even though a bit late by me) that Tsui Hark has finally gained back his magical touch, and what's the most important that he showed an indescribable improvement over the last years, so as many others i have to honestly applaud him for this achievement as well. Undoubtedly he's not only returned to his form but is very possible that he's much better than ever before. I am completely blown away by every image, framing and lighting, not to mention the spiritual heart and poetic meaning hiding behind them carrying a true sense of cinematic power.
Although, what i always admired about this guy is definitely his originality and innovative ideas. I think it'd be quite relevant to mention his infamous working method as well: Tsui Hark is very often infusing his basic framework (which is usually the traditional Chinese story, fairy-tale, novel.. whatever he wants to remake) by his own original ideas always reflecting the current social values and atmosphere, and through this artistic combination of the past and present he's systematically modernizing that for the new generation. I think this is quite unprecedented working method in order to being constantly groundbreaking and at the same time preserving the Chinese traditional values for another generations. This is why the whole repertoire of his is usually comprised of the remakes of or ideas taken from the classic Chinese films that are slowly losing the touch with the modern time. Interesting to note that Tsui Hark's loose, usually very original remakes have been much more successful at the audiences than their predecessors, but that certainly has a lot to do with their exposition to the mainstream as well. He's keeping the Chinese legacy alive. And it's also no surprise he's being usually called a champion of the Chinese nationalism and culture. I just wanted to clarify what some people still don't understand.
Note: If Wong Kar Wai thought his 2046 was art or stylish he should have engaged Tsui Hark's skills and team to shoot it. Once again, Wong could have learned from him. After all, who do you think started as the first in HK using the whole combination of meditative voice-overs, scattered story-telling, visual metaphors, stylized cinematography, moral sermonizing and political allusions, the last-minute revisions during post-production, developing sub-plots into main plots, non-sync dubbing to inject additional meaning (though WKW does this only just to provide continuity), and belief that the unmade, incomplete version is the better version Yes, Tsui Hark. Then who do you think was more successful at the audiences with this technique, Yes, Tsui Hark, not Wong. This is just my little hatred and lesson centred at some stubborn freakish WKW fanboys and moviegoers who apparently know only 15 years old movies at most.
It might as well be interesting to note that the renowned Wuxia writer Jin Yong stated on many occasions that no one has adapted to screen any one of his works sufficiently. Although, he explained that Mr.Tsui Hark was the only filmmaker to this day who was successful at the audiences with these adaptations, but only at the expense of the personal vision and fully original approach rather than a conformity. The reason why so many Yong's adaptations failed is that his stories are very complicated, long and feature far too many characters. Therefore, Jin Yong stated that Tsui Hark as many others never got too much out of his novels! This is just in response to some of the people i found here who (intentionally?) badly misinterpreted Jing Yong's claimings.
Take into consideration that Liang Yu Sheng (the writer of the Seven Swords novels) was all the time at the forefront of the whole production of this film to take care of the film's faithfulness to his original novels. From the very beginning there was written the so-called Seven Swords bible containing more than what ended up on this film which was under Yu Sheng's guidance as well. Reportedly, at the screening of this film Liang Y. Sheng was extremely satisfied with the result and its accuracy. So it seems that his presence during the production was worth it after all.
Also remember that this film was just one seventh (at the very least) of the whole giant volume comprised of several generations, stories, themes, intrigues, characters, and many more that form all the novels this planned saga of films is going to be based on! I'm also very confident that this film can't even work just as much on its own as only a part of all seven films.
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