Seven Swords

DVD Rating: ****

Reviewed by: Paul Griffiths

Read Richard Mellor's film review of Seven Swords

When Seven Swords was released last year, much was expected from director Tsui Hark. Being the legendary helmsman who gave us the Jet Li starrer Once Upon A Time In China, considerably more than once, Zu Warriors and a Chinese Ghost Story or two, his taking on Lian Yu Shen's classic wuxia novel, Seven Swordsmen From Mountain Tian, understandably had most people believing the literature was in the most appropriate cinematic hands.

Faithful to the wuxia code of mystical swords, honour, sacrifice and some kick-ass martial arts action, he certainly was. While the tale sees an assembled band of seven warriors battle heroically across fantastically photographed landscapes, there appears to be very little time invested in actually developing the characters, getting you interested in, or caring about them, which is certainly missed when the film stretches out over two-and-half hours.

Perhaps, it's to make up for this lack of depth that a two-disc DVD has just been released.

Disc 1 has the film, obligatory scene selection, audio options and two sections of trailers for other releases. There are four info and trailer packages for Premiere Asia releases, Warrior, Bang-Rajan, Ong-Bak and Bichunmoo and four Hong Kong Legends releases, Iron Monkey and Once Upon A Time In China 1, 2 & 3. There are comprehensive lists of each release's features, making all seem like attractive packages.

Disc 2 is where Hong Kong Legends have really gone to town. It's clear from all the footage and the plethora of features that video cameras were recording everything that was going on, especially when no other filming was taking place. This has been edited into numerous bite-sized chunks and interviews, all under helpful headings.

Promotional Gallery UK trailer, teaser and TV spot, two Hong Kong trailers and three minutes of international press footage.

Interview Gallery 1 Tsui Hark Donnie Yen Lau Kar Leon Lai

Interview Gallery 2 Duncan Chow Charlie Young Tai Liwu Lu Yi

Interview Gallery 3 Kim So Yuen Zhang Jingchu Sun Honglei

So that's pretty much everyone covered with an interview.

Forging The Sword: a standard 15-minute Making Of doc, which features various talking heads, explaining the emotional background and context of their characters. They point out that a lot is going on with most individuals in the heroic band, which only serves to highlight the film's generic failure in communicating this in the first place.

Four Shooting Diaries: breaks down the project in month-by-month sequences, with production gallery and a three minute montage of fast flowing sketches from pre-production to shots of just about everybody on set, especially those behind the cameras.

Finally, there are 10 deleted scenes. Some are quite short and others, again, give more exposition to the characters, which leaves you wondering how long the film would have been if they had been kept in and, more importantly, why they didn't chop something else out instead!

This DVD is comprehensive, to say the least, but not quite as engaging as you might expect - much like the film.

Reviewed on: 28 May 2006
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Seven Swords packshot
A 17th century band of swordsmen defend villagers from murderous gang
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Product Code: CTR51102

Region: 2

Ratio: Anamorphic Wide Screen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround/DTS 5.1 Surround

Extras: Making Of featurette; 3 interview galleries; 10 deleted scenes; 4 shooting diaries; production sketches; multiple trailers and teaser

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