The Swordsman

DVD Rating: ***

Reviewed by: Keith Hennessey Brown

Read Keith Hennessey Brown's film review of The Swordsman

Visuals on this Region 2 DVD from Hong Kong Legends are good enough, if not spectacular, with a clean 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that's perhaps a touch on the soft and grainy side. This can, however, be ascribed to the source materials rather than any failing on HLK's part.

The audio presentation comprises two remixed 5.1 Dolby tracks, in Cantonese and English dub. These are satisfactory but not quite up to the standards of modern, integral tracks. English subtitles are, of course, optionally available for those who wish to watch the film in its original language.

Bey Logan continues to impress with his encyclopedic knowledge of the Hong Kong film scene in the feature length commentary track, giving us background on the cast and crew, the troubled production history of the film, author Louis Cha, the world in which The Swordsman is set and its broader import in helping re-establish the period martial arts film in the early 1990s.

The shorter interviews with leading lady Cecilia Yip Tong (16 minutes) and villian Yuen Wah (21 minutes) complement the commentary nicely, presenting insights into the film and its wider context from the perspective of the actor.

Yip Tong talks about King Hu's painstaking working methods - perhaps a contributory factor in his removal from the production - the sometimes arduous process of shooting the film; her character in the movie, whom she inteprets as something of a "modern woman", and her impressions of replacement directors Hui, Hark and Sui-Tung.

Yuen Wah's piece is broader in scope, covering his career from childhood - where a penchant for imitating the moves he saw in films led to a 10 year apprenticeship in the Peking Opera - through his work as a stuntman and acrobatics specialist, including memorable work with Bruce Lee and Sammo Hung, on to The Swordsman itself, where he recalls the difficulty of fighting at sea - with the rolling waves making precise martial arts moves difficult - and his death by a thousand bees.

A quality package is rounded off by trailers for the film and other Hong Kong Legends and Premier Asia product.

Reviewed on: 01 Dec 2003
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The Swordsman packshot
Martial arts action extravaganza in the style of the Hong Kong greats.
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Product Code: MDV760

Region: 2

Ratio: 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen

Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1

Extras: Feature length commentary by Bey Logan; Interviews with Cecilia Yip Tong and Yuen Wah; Trailer gallery

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