Sword, The
Hong Kong 1980
Directed by Patrick Tam.

Li Mak-Yin (Adam Cheng) thinks he's the best and has spent the past 10 years looking for Wah (Tin Fung), the most famous swordsman in the world. He encounters three women along the way. There is Ying Chi, a young damsel in distress, who turns out to be Wah's daughter. And Hsiao Yue, his old sweetheart from his home village, who couldn't wait for him anymore and had to marry Lin wan (Norman Chu). And finally there is Wah's old flame, Yuen Chi. The old swordsman himself has two powerful swords, Hon Sing and Chi Mud. Hsiao Yue's husband wants the swords for himself, it turns out, because he is an evil bastard.

And so everyone is intricately involved in a tapestry of relationships that come unraveled when Li Mak-Yin finally fulfills his dream and fights Wan. On the field of battle, he barely injures Wan, yet Wan dies that same evening. Love and kindness turn to hatred, remorse, and loneliness. In the end, fame and glory is nothing but a mirage.

The story is hardly original and indeed very similar to countless other "martial artist testing himself against the king of xxx" tales. It especially reminded me of SOUL OF THE SWORD (1978, HK) which had Ti Lung in the title role (and again, Norman Chu). But what it lacks in originality storywise it makes up for in its tight narrative pacing -- there seems to be no extraneous moment. And The SWORD is packed with extremely dynamic swordfighting sequences. Several times Adam Cheng must square off against the villain's henchman (Eddy Ko), and at the end, he fights Norman Chu. There is some handheld, fancy camera work, lots of wires, and amazing choreography.

Contemporary film critics found the movie to be innovative for its time. But for the modern viewer, it is difficult to see what would be extraordinary about it. No matter. I do not attempt to describe if or how we might admire THE SWORD as a museum piece. The fact is, this movie doesn't need to be mothballed yet, it's still a very enjoyable action picture that is well worth the time to watch.

Rating: Highly Recommended (Highly Recommended)

Posted by Peter Nepstad on January 24, 2005.


I remember watching this a while ago on Australia's sbs tv channel. Not bad for a film from 1980.

Posted by: Jerome at March 4, 2006 11:51 PM
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