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Issue #148a HOME E-mail: mail@dighkmovies.com BACK ISSUES February 24th, 2003

The Sword
(1980; Golden Harvest)

A Masterpiece
Highly Recommended
Very Good
Marginal Recommendation
Not Recommended
Definitely Not Recommended

Cantonese: Ming gim
Mandarin: Ming jian
English: Famous Sword

An excellent period swordplay drama, THE SWORD tells the story of skilled swordsman Li Mak-yin (Adam Cheng Siu-chau), who is wandering the countryside in search of someone. Along the way, he meets sprightly maiden Ying-chi (Tsui Kit) and helps her ward off an attacker (Lee Hoi-sang). At an inn, he encounters his childhood sweetheart, Hsiao-yue (Jojo Chan Kei-kei), who has married a cruel nobleman named Lin Wan (Norman Tsui Siu-keung). Although he puts up a polite front, Lin does not trust Li's motives and orders his subordinate to murder him. Li survives the attack but is gravely injured. Nursed back to health by the beautiful Yuen Chi (Ngai Chau-wah), Li learns from her that Ying-chi is about to be killed. After receiving a sword from Ying-chi, he is able to save the girl from a mob of assassins. Upon bringing Ying-chi to her home, he discovers that her father is the very man he seeks: Wah (Tien Feng), the greatest swordsman in the land. The sword Li now possesses is the Chi Mud sword, which is reputedly infused with great evil. Wah was advised to dispose of it but couldn't bear to part with the handsome weapon, giving it instead to Ying-chi but keeping her in the dark about its heinous reputation. Li defeats Wah in their subsequent duel and, that evening, the latter is murdered by Lin's man, who makes it look like Wah succumbed to injuries he received from Li. Now that he has Wah's prized Hon Sing sword in his possession, Lin also seeks the Chi Mud and will stop at nothing to get it.

Directed by Patrick Tam (one of leading young directors credited with starting the "HK New Wave" movement and one of the few who never quite found his niche), THE SWORD is shot and edited with an invigorating sense of style and composition. While it remains faithful to the emotion and traditions of the classic Chinese swordplay film, modern technique instills the storyline with an extra degree of resonance and excitement. There is also superb action choreography by future director Tony Ching Siu-tung that is very much in the style that would become the norm for the genre (it was Ching's fine work here that prompted producer Raymond Chow Man-wai to offer him his directorial debut, DUEL TO THE DEATH), as well as a haunting score by Joseph Koo Kar-fai. A key feature in its genre, THE SWORD has been difficult to see (in more ways than one) over the years, resulting in it being little known among Western aficionados. Hopefully, this bargain-priced release will help to change that. Eddy Ko Hung and Lau Siu-ming co-star.

Cover art courtesy Deltamac.

Adam Cheng. Image courtesy Deltamac.

Norman Tsui. Image courtesy Deltamac.
Deltamac #DVD78053 (HK label)

Dolby Digital 2.0

Cantonese and Mandarin Language Tracks (both post-synced)

Optional Subtitles in English and Chinese (Traditional or Simplified)

6 Chapters Illustrated in the Menu With (Tiny) Stills

Letterboxed (2.40:1)

Coded for ALL Regions

NTSC Format

85 Minutes (at 25 frames-per-second)

Contains stylized swordplay violence

DVD menu courtesy Deltamac.

Australia: M
Hong Kong: II
Ontario: PG
Singapore: PG


THE SWORD was released on VCD by Mega Star but no DVD followed. A Mainland disc from WA featured Mandarin only and another of those annoying 5.1 echo chambers. Deltamac's DVD is not pristine but remains a viable option. The source material is lightly speckled throughout and blacks are sometimes tinged with blue. Colors are otherwise attractive and detail levels are good. The audio is subject to occasional distortion but remains adequate. A trailer is the only extra. The disc comes in a clear case with reversible cover art.

is available at Poker Industries.

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