Saturday, November 21, 2009

Magnificent Seven

In Seven Swords as in The Magnificent Seven or The Seven Samurai, seven warriors join to save a village from the bad guys. Other than that, they have nothing in common.

Seven Swords takes place when the Ching dynasty is consolidating its hold on China by outlawing the study of martial arts. General Fire-Wind and his punked-out army are enforcing the edict by decapitating anyone he can find, and collecting a bounty on the heads. One martial artist escapes his attack and tries to warn a small village. He takes a young man and woman to Heaven Mountain, where they find a god-like swordsmith and four warriors. The two villagers get swords, so we have seven in all, against an army.

For the rest of the movies 2-1/2 hours, we get beautiful vistas of western Chinese mountains and deserts. We get amazing wuxia swordfights with high-flying wirework. We get horses, children and peasants. We get love and lust, pure and perverted. We get flashbacks, forwards and sideways. We may not get a clear image of all seven warriors, or the seven distinct sword styles, but I can name 4 or 5. We get cinema art, and rousing good tale.

This movies was directed by Tsui Hark, but it reminded me strongly of Ashes of Time Redux by Kar Wai Wong. Especially towards the end, balance tilts more to art film than action film. I don't think you'll get bored, but don't expect the something along the lines of the much more straightforward Once Upon a Time In China.

In conclusion, Donnie Yen has the role of no. 1 brooding hero. Who could do it better?

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