Sword Identity
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This is another Chinese film that had me scratching my head. The bad guys in this are the Japanese, who we never see. There is discussion and fighting among the various martial arts schools and the military as to what weapon and technique to use against the Japanese. A sword copied from the Japanese and altered in China is being promoted by one man, who is thought of as a Japanese pirate. Hence the title.

The movie appears to have some levity by design in an attempt to keep the action/drama from becoming too boring. However the foreign humor is well...foreign humor and only the slapstick aspect translates well.

The martial arts aspect of the film is stressed in some minor fighting hints in a technique the old master calls, "Shadow and Sound." The film appears to have some Chinese cultural appeaL that is not universal unless the theme is pirating from foreign countries is okay for the defense of the nation. The fighting is minimal and even the women who dress in red, found it boring. I had a hard time developing an interest in the plot.

PARENTAL GUIDE: No F-bombs, sex, or nudity. There are some scenes which imply sex is about to happen which is part of the levity.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
THE SWORD IDENTITY (Orig. title WO KOU DE ZONG JI, 2011, 111 minutes) must be one of the most simultaneously rewarding and downright confusing martial arts films ever conceived. A master from China conversant with its history might appreciate this in full. I could only appreciate it in pieces, or rather, piecemeal. Set in the Ming Dynasty - though I rather question both the costumes I saw and the dialect as I heard it - an argument sets in among the martial arts school masters as to how to deal with a Japanese pirate who has infiltrated the unidentified city.

To simplify the background: a military general had previously perfected a technique that would defeat the Japanese katana as it was back then. Another general, and I think this was the first general's brother, developed a technique that would defeat the warrior rather than the sword. The third Maguffin is a military strategy: an attack formation to defeat the Japanese "pirates". The martial arts technique was designed to beat their sword. At least that is how I saw it and understood it. The trouble is, in one of the martial arts schools, the leader, once a general, copied then altered the katana design.

This was considered "evil" by the Chinese who later forbade its use. As I see it, the actual Japanese "pirate" - who is one of the young martial arts masters serving under the general who reengineered the sword - is trying to prove to the Chinese authorities that the sword system should be treasured and taught. You know, in case the Japanese ever decided to come calling. Oh, and this young whippersnapper also wants the "anti-Japanese" techniques to be officially taught. He is the most confusing character of all.

At least the film showed some Chinese and Japanese martial arts etiquette as I was taught them. The techniques are rather dazzling, obviously phony, but based on actual techniques such as what we now know as the T'ai Ch'i Cane. Also I appreciated the little-addressed issue of the military and the martial arts masters frowning on each other. That part was true enough in the past - and still true. What is terrible about this is the producers obviously have weak senses of heritage, both cultural and cinematic. This is mostly like a bad Japanese film and the copying from Japanese directors is so painful to see that I won't even begin to describe it.

In fact I had to pretend it was an alien world and that I was watching the origins of the Jedi to get me all the way through this thing. Try it: it might work for you. Reading the so-called reviews here on Amazon, I understand. That is what bothers the West about this film: the audience wanted to see old masters kicking each others' butts all over the place. Instead they get all this drivel about swords, armies and how the Chinese could best defeat the Japanese. Did you not hear the old Gandalf-lookalike master?

"A master does not fight that way: he strikes only once, and wins." Ah well, even a film can't always follow its own message. This thing has cool innovations and enough stupid confusion in the storyline to keep you guessing - but I say "PASS". There are excellent films galore you can waste your money on without bothering to watch this even once. If you can see it for free, then no harm done. You might even learn a few things.

Something definitely beneficial about films like this: they will make you crave for bigger and better things, and those films are out there. Life does not being and end with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Try this tiny sampling on for size: Shaolin (see my review); Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame DVD (see my review); Hung Hei-Koon: Shaolin's Five Founders (see my review); and IP MAN COMPLETE SET # 1-2-3 (see my review, of course).

There, this lousy film achieves that goal at least, and my list of personal recommendations ought to keep you happy and sated for at least a few days. There's lots more where that came from, the ONE good thing China has given our economy. That, and chopsticks. I gave it 2 stars after weighing and deciding against 3 stars, because of the overall technical quality. It gets one for that and ONE star for martial arts value. Or as they say in China, "I am most humbly indebted to the givers for this gift and may they live an interesting life."
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2012
When is a sword not a sword? That is a question asked by this film. In a land of tradition (and traditional weapons), how does something new get added to the mix? This interesting film tries to show some of the ways in which that question could be answered. A good, off-beat look at a martial arts genre film.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2013
An deeply philosophical take on marital arts. Not your usual fare. Prepare for a martial film that's not focused on fights but ideas
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2013
I did not like it. too slow, pretty boring, nedded more sword fighting.i saw three quarters of it had to stop watching.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2013
Very good acting, action when it was needed. The master fighters (the two who fought it out in the end) were very skillful. They brought the story together in the end. It was in a way too drawn out. The same story could have been shorter with more skills performed by the main fighters to build up to the climatic duel. The better kung fu movies show more of the skills of the main actors before their final fight. I think there should have been more action in the movie because it was really rather slow.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 11, 2013
Great Insightful Martial Arts Movie. It's NOT the typical Wire-Fu, CGI'd extravaganza. The pacing may seem a little slow, but it's Not a "Chop-Socky" movie. Martial artists (particularly practitioners of Internal Martial Arts trained in Combat Usage) will appreciate it. This film is a bit more philosophical than most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2013
NO action scenes very lame if any
no plot or story

Just simply a waste of time and money

Buy at your own risk
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on October 15, 2014
This is a B-movie with laughable fighting scenes. All I can see is the weapons touch one another and then some of the fighters falling down! Or in many cases, I hear only the sound of weapons hitting one another, then some of the fighters are dead. Yuk! It's really bad.

The flow is choppy. It clearly shows poor editing and directing. The acting is below average.

In short, It has NO IDENTITY. There is nothing worth seeing here.
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on March 25, 2014
That sword every identified.

A slow, but good movie. Sometimes funny....if you don't understand subtle humor, don't watch it and expect to laugh out loud.

If you can't find a "great" movie to watch, watch this one, you will enjoy it.
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