Trinity Cine Asia presents the stylish, South Korean, action-packed period film “The Swordsman”, out on DVD & Digital 17th May, and Blu-ray on 24th May – order your copy now from Amazon!
Actor and rapper Jang Hyuk stars as the visually-impaired swordsman, “Tae-yul”. A popular celebrity in South Korea, he is best known for his leading roles in the films “Volcano High” and “Windstruck”, and several television dramas. Former child model turned actress Kim Hyun-soo plays “Tae-ok”, Tae-yul’s daughter.
Star of action hits “The Raid”, “Fast & Furious 6”, “Star Trek Beyond”, “The Night Comes for Us”, “Warrior”, and the 2021 reboot of “Mortal Kombat”, Joe Taslim stars as the wicked “Gurutai”, member of Qing imperial family.
Popular South Korean actor Jung Man-sik plays “Min Seung-ho”, Joseon’s greatest military official. Rapper, singer, songwriter, actor and MC Lee Min-hyuk appears as the “Young Tae-yul”. He is a member of the South Korean boy group BtoB.
The story plays out over a background of true historical events. After being partially blinded in a coup against the king, legendary swordsman Tae-yul goes into hiding, living a quiet, peaceful life with his daughter.
However, when political unrest leads to traffickers kidnapping his daughter, Tae-yul has no choice but to take up arms once more. In a race against time, losing his sight and with innocent lives hanging in the balance, he must also face a dangerous new nemesis!
Making a Point with a Stylish Sword Duel
The opening action scene is a stylish sword duel with the young Tae-yul demonstrating his speed and prowess with a sword. The fighting techniques are not overly flamboyant, although there is a little wire-enhancement, but it is the way the action is captured that piqued my interest.
Wide-Aspect Filming Helps the Action Flow
I was a little worried from the preceding dramatic scenes that I was going to have a festival of shaky-cam inflicted on me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that although the camera constantly moved around the two fighters, it flowed smoothly using a wide aspect ratio, with prudent editing.
This filming technique kept all the action in frame whilst maintaining the rapid pace and excitement of the duel. Hollywood action directors should take note.
Fluid Camera Work Captures the Frantic Fights
For the subsequent sword fights, everything happens at light speed, with the camera following the action fluidly. It means that, despite the frantic pace, the viewer never misses a beat.
The Excellent Choreography is Highly Engaging
The meticulous fight choreography is excellent, with very few superfluous moves, remaining engaging to watch throughout. When Tae-yul commences his final rampage, he marauds his way through dozens of soldiers and ninjas in an almost constant spray of CGI arterial blood.
“Mortal Kombat’s” Joe Taslim Demonstrates Raw, Authentic Physical Speed
All good sword-fighting films finish with a duel between the best masters; the hero and the villain. With Joe Taslim playing the antagonist, the fight seemingly achieves the impossible, accelerating the pace, and consequently the stakes, of the fighting.
I don’t know how many frames per second this was filmed at, but it doesn’t look under-cranked like the films of old. Just raw, authentic, physical speed.
“The Swordsman” is a great-looking film featuring several fast-paced sword fights that deserve their place in the pantheon of awesome screen combat.
This isn’t the twirling, swirling, wire-heavy style of a wuxia film like Jet Li’s classic “Swordsman II” though, or even the methodical slicing and dicing of a Samurai movie. It is a thoroughly modern-looking action film, with mostly grounded and exciting fights.
Complimenting the fine cinematography is a suitably epic and rousing music score. It helps give a final polish to the overall feeling that this is a high-quality production.
My only gripe really is that the fast pace of the action sequences magnify the sluggishness of the dramatic scenes. They are perfectly well performed and filmed but I feel much of the melodrama and exposition could have been trimmed, especially for such a straightforward plot.
If you enjoy swordplay movies this is an excellent and stylish addition to the genre.
- “Your sword seems to be an ornament” – Henchman
- “You insisted on fighting, don’t resent me for dying” – Tae-yul
- “He may be fast but without form he is reckless” – Min Seung-ho
- “For me, my daughter is the country and everything in it.” – Tae-yul
- Actor Joe Taslim was a member of Indonesia’s national Judo team from 1997 to 2009.
- The film was originally scheduled to be released on 17th September 2020 in South Korea. However due to the COVID-19 pandemic in South Korea, its released was postponed by a week to 23rd September 2020.
- Screened as part of the 2021 Glasgow Film Festival.
Film Rating: 7.5/10
THE SWORDSMAN is out on DVD & Digital on 17th May, and Blu-ray on 24th May, order your copy now from Amazon!
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