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Swordsman [VHS] (1990)

Samuel Hui , Cecilia Yip , Ann Hui , Hark Tsui  |  NR |  VHS Tape
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Samuel Hui, Cecilia Yip, Jacky Cheung, Sharla Cheung, Fennie Yuen
  • Directors: Ann Hui, Hark Tsui, King Hu, Raymond Lee, Siu-Tung Ching
  • Writers: Fu-hao Tai, Kee-To Lam
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Subtitles: English
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Tai Seng Entertainme
  • VHS Release Date: April 24, 2001
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000009Q6M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #805,350 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews


Every 15 minutes there's a flabbergasting sword fight. All the warriors can fly over, or dismember, their opponents with a flick of the wrist. (The action was staged by Ching Siu-tung, the director of A Chinese Ghost Story.) Eyeballs are extracted, wrists snap, heads explode. The caffeine-rush editing style and its tendency to scream and throw things (usually right at our heads) is almost alienating; it distracts us from a story line that would be difficult to parse even at normal speeds. A scroll known as the Sacred Volume, offering the secret to a powerful martial arts technique, has been filched from the imperial library in Beijing, and the snippy eunuchs assigned to guard it are waxing wroth. An amiable wandering swashbuckler known as Fox, Ling Hu-ching (Sam Hui), from the Wah Mountain School of Swordsmen, gets tagged with the hopeless assignment of retrieving the lost scroll. Wu Ma and Lin Zheng-ying, as noble old martial artists, sing a song together and then die staunchly. Various other factions of fighters, including the glorious women of the rebel Sun and Moon Society of broad-hatted "Highlanders" (who make their living smuggling salt) also express an interest in the scroll--and their principle modes of expression are all fiercely martial. Adapted from the novel The Laughing Swordsman, by Louis Cha (a.k.a. Jin Yong), the H. Rider Haggard of Asia. Cha's story about the character's youth, Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain, is available in English. --David Chute

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why all the negative opinions? March 6, 2004
By skytwo
For some reason, this movie has always seemed to polarize opinion (when people could actually find a copy-- it's been notoriously hard to find until now). People either love it or hate it. After recently viewing the DVD, I'm leaning toward the former camp.
The plot revolves around various parties attempting to recover a scroll that contains a powerful martial arts technique. It's as simple as that, really, and the complexity of the plot stems from the fact that there isn't always a clear line between the good guys and the bad guys-- with the exception of the aptly-named "Laughing Swordsman," the central character of a series of novels upon which this film was based. And I always considered depth of character to be a GOOD thing in a movie.
All told, there really isn't a lot to distinguish this from a typical (typically solid, that is) Hong Kong actioner. However, the notable feature is that it involved no fewer than four directors. Getting top billing is the legendary King Hu, although the better-known Tsui Hark has made an obvious mark. While too many cooks usually spell disaster for a movie, this feels like a genuinely cooperative effort. Hu's eye for atmosphere, color and photography is apparent, while Hark keeps the action sequences looking dynamic and tense. It adds up, amazingly, to an admirable directorial job.
Another asset of the film is its willingness to be dark. Some of the most memorable Hong Kong films feature villains that are really worthy of the viewer's hatred (The Heroic Trio, for one), and there are some vicious scenes in this film. To me, that added to the overall effect.
No, it's not a slapdash story. No, it isn't the mess it could have been, and no, it isn't non-stop wirework and fake action.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good background for Swordsman II September 20, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is the first in a series of at least 3 movies about warrior clans in China, based on the novels of Jin Yong. This film has the most coherent plot of the three (which is not saying much), and gives a lot of useful background information for Swordsman II.
The second film, however, is by far the best in the series, with Jet Li taking on the lead role. If you want to understand what's going on in Swordsman II, watch this one first (or read Jin Yong's novels). If you just want to get straight to the "essence absorbing stance" and Brigitte Lin blowing people up using sewing needles, you can safely skip this one. It's still an enjoyable movie in its own right, falling somewhere between 3 and 4 stars from my perspective.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love it April 19, 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I can only describe this movie in three words because it would be enough to sum it all up: I love it!
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