Sword of Swords, The (1968) Review

"The Sword of Swords" Chinese Theatrical Poster

"The Sword of Swords" Chinese Theatrical Poster

Director: Cheng Kang
Writer: Cheng Kang
Producer: Runme Shaw
Cast: Jimmy Wang Yu, Li Ching, Shu Pooi Pooi, Wong Chung Shun, Cheng Miu, Tin Fung, Liu Chia Liang, Yeung Chi Hing, Yen Shi Kwan
Running Time: 105 min.

By Mighty Peking Man

Starring tough guy Jimmy Wang Yu and “Baby Queen” Li Ching, The Sword of Swords is a tale of a legendary sword and one man’s extreme honor to keep the powerful weapon in the hands of its rightful people, no matter what. This is pretty much what you need to know. Saying anything more about the plot will ruin the many twists and turns which serve as the film’s strongest functions.

The Sword of Swords pulls no punches. It’s, without a doubt, one of the most brutal Shaw Brothers films I’ve ever seen. It takes awhile for the pace to pick up, but when it does, get ready for some hardcore action. It can easily measure up against the bloodiest of Chang Cheh’s work, which is saying a lot.

Jimmy Wang Yu plays a similar role to his popular One-Armed Swordsman character, even sporting his trademark 5 o’clock shadow. His love interest, played by Li Ching, is present for nothing more than being helpless and cute (well, at least to me).

The enemy elements are as ruthless as can be. This can be attributed to the perfect casting of both Tien Feng and Huang Chung Hsun. I don’t think I can remember the last time I saw a movie where I absolutely loved to hate the bad guys. Beatings and killings of man, woman, elderly, children, and babies – you name it. In more than one point, the good guys are put in such a hopeless situation, that victory is more than unlikely.

Lau Kar-leung and Tang Chia’s beautiful fight choreography stands out. Judging from what I’ve seen, the kung fu scenes are a lot more crisp and entertaining than many films of this time. Look out for a cameo by Lau Kar-leung as a fighter with below average kung fu skills (imagine how hard that role was for him)…

The Sword of Swords suffers lightly from scene continuity issues. Since this is my first Cheng Kang film (and definitely not my last), I wouldn’t be able to tell you if his other projects have the same problem. Although they were very obvious in many scenes, in no way did they take away from the rest of the film’s brilliance.

Sword of Swords is one hell of a movie. Recommended.

Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 10/10

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