Issue #276          HOME          E-mail:        BACK ISSUES           August 15th, 2005

Sword in the Moon
(2003; Shinabro Entertainment/White Lee Entertainment)


Korean: Cheongpung myeongwol


  RATING: 5/10


A series of high-ranking officials are being systematically eliminated by a sleek assassin and his female assistant, and arrogant master swordsman General Choi (Jo Jae-hyeon) is charged with putting an end to the carnage. During a previous time of political upheaval, the Clear Wind, Shining Moon martial arts school was caught in the middle and its members ruthlessly slaughtered. Top student Choi swore allegiance to the usurpers and was spared; now, his former friend, Yun (Choi Min-su) is exacting vengeance on behalf of the victims.

Jo Jae-hyeon Choi Min-su

Like other South Korean pictures of this ilk from recent years, Kim Eui-suk’s SWORD IN THE MOON benefits from a large budget and lush cinematography. It is also another production to employ a Hong Kong action choreographer (in this case, Yuen Bun, assisted by Korean martial arts legend Kim Won-jin), though the combat here is built more around battlefield swordplay carnage than wire-enhanced stunts. Even with these assets, the film largely fails to engage, thanks to a needlessly awkward flashback structure and the near-incessant stoicism of the leads, neither of whom seem especially world-weary or conflicted. On the occasions when dramatic elements dominate, the tone is too melodramatic to be effective.



The mildly cropped 2.15:1 presentation is, alas, non-anamorphic but colorful and sufficiently vivid. However, the optional English subtitles are positioned under the picture, which means those with 16:9 monitors will not be able to enlarge the image to fill their screens. The dual-layer disc offers various audio options (Korean DD-5.1 or DTS, a Cantonese dub in 5.1, and a Mandarin version in 2.0 mono), with the original Korean sync sound versions the best choice in terms of authenticity, though both sound more limited and compressed than the better contemporary mixes. A collection of Tai Seng promo spots are the only supplements.


NOTE: The version of SWORD IN THE MOON reviewed above has been withdrawn, due to a legal dispute over which company has the rights to the original Korean language track. Tai Seng has since issued a new DVD of the film containing only the Cantonese and Mandarin dubtracks and it will be the only version available in Region 1 until the legal proceedings have concluded. I have not seen the new disc, but with the removal of the two Korean tracks, a higher bit rate should have resulted, possibly improving the visuals and audio somewhat. The remainder of the DVD is presumably identical to the original release.

Images in this review courtesy of Tai Seng Entertainment. To read captions, hover mouse over image.

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Copyright © John Charles 2000 - 2005. All Rights Reserved.


- U.S. Release

NTSC – Region 0

Tai Seng Entertainment #62454

Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0/DTS

Sync Sound Korean and Dubbed Cantonese/ Mandarin Language

Subtitles (Optional): English

9 Chapters

Letterbox (2.15:1)

99 Minutes


- Finland: K-15

Manitoba: 14A

Nova Scotia: 14

Ontario: 14A

Quebec: 13+

Singapore: NC16

Sweden: 15

Contains brutal violence

10 A Masterpiece
9 Excellent
8 Highly Recommended
7 Very Good
6 Recommended
5 Marginal Recommendation
4 Not Recommended
3 Poor
2 Definitely Not Recommended
1 Dreadful