Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Reclaiming the Blade |
Actors: John Rhys-Davies, Viggo Mortensen, John Clements, Karl Urban, Richard Taylor
Director: Daniel McNicoll
Genres: Action & Adventure, Documentary, Military & War
Reclaiming the Blade celebrates the culture and craft of swords and the Hollywood legends and academic warriors who wield them. The film explores the Medieval and Renaissance blade; a profound and beautiful object handcraf... more »
Western Martial Arts revived
R. McCoy | 04/23/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Background: I'm a retired military officer, and a serious student of military history. This superb film explores the medieval/Renaissance history of the sword, and by extension, European martial arts of the period. It breaks the study down into sections such as: how we view the sword today, particularly as reflected in movies; The actual history of the sword; and modern research, both scholarly and active to recreate the sword and its use. It has long annoyed me that the history of Western combat has been lost, and even falsified. It is incredible to believe that warriors of the period were simply flailing about with no skill at arms. Their lives, their honor, the well-being of their families, their religion, etc all depended on getting it right, yet most history books would have you believe that they possessed no skills beyond a blind courage. This very well done film provides the viewer with an introduction to the sword, and is an excellent starting point for further research. The experts and enthusiasts who are interviewed infect the viewer with their spirit and their knowledge. This is a film long overdue."
Swords with passion
Stage 3 | NSW Australia | 07/07/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently watched Reclaiming the Blade, a documentary about swords and the romanticism that surrounds them. I had been tracking the progress of the film through its website, eagerly anticipating the release of the movie. I was very excited when it was released and I purchased it within days of it becoming available. I was very happy that the delivery was quick so that I could view it without waiting too long.
When the movie first started I was disappointed as it seemed to be based on hyperbole and worse still it appeared that the history of swords was brushed over quickly to concentrate on sword use in movies. I figured that since I had bought the DVD that I would keep watching it; and I am glad that I did. While the movie comments were interesting that was not why I bought the documentary.
In my opinion, the documentary really took off after the the swords in the movies section. It dealt with swords and also Western Martial Arts. The movie did not try to argue superiority issues between Eastern and Western Martial Arts, it just pointedout that Europe had a tradition of martial arts, which were written about extensively at the time. Western Martial Arts were 'lost' with the coming of firearms that reduced the need to have skill in favour of masses of muskets firing simultaneously. The documentary had a Kundo instructor who gave his view about Western and Eastern Martial Arts. He summed up the difference perfectly when he stated that Eastern Martial Arts were more esoteric than Western Martial Arts.
The experts consulted about Western Martial Arts were clear that the tradition of the European styles was about killing, and it did not matter how attractively it was done. One of the experts, the legendary Hank Reinhardt, related the story of when he was sparring using Western Martial Arts techniques with a sports fencer and grabbed the blade of the fencer. The fencer objected because that movewas against the rules, to which Reinhadt retorted that in a fight to the death nothing was illegal.
The movie also lookedat the making of swords, focusing on the modern work of the late Paul Champagne. Mr Champagne worked with traditional techniques to create traditional style blades and had very good insights in to how swords may have been made. The documentary also looked at the remains of a medieval sword found in England that was made of several metals, demonstrating that western swords were not just simple pounded metal.
I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary especially once it passed the movie section. It was great seeing the passion that people showed for investigating Western Martial Arts. The film did not try to prove the superiority of Western Martial Arts over Asian Martial Arts, it merely stated that both existed and are both worthy of study. The documentary was also not just about people bashing each other with swords it also let the academics speak about their research. If you are interested in swords, especially European medieval or Renaissance era swords then this is a documentary that you will enjoy. I also believe that its well paced format will appeal to a broader audience."
William H. Richardson | FL | 08/04/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a devote to martial arts and as all of us who grew up in the late 70's 80's and even 90's have been duped by our own culture into believing the Asians had all the answers. We have forgotten our own heritage and some of it's glory. Don't get me wrong I lived in Japan and love the Asian culture and have studied it's arts both martial and matirial and never knew about my own. I strongly reccomend this title it is everything the reveiwer said and more. GET THE 2-DISK SPECIAL EDITION. The special fetures disk is just as good as the movie it's self.Reclaiming the Blade (2-disc Special Edition)"
Lots of potential that doen't quite gel
Marc C. Andryuk | 01/07/2010
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Reclaiming the Blade is a mixed bag of a documentary with a lot of potential that doesn't quite come together. I kept on getting the feeling that there were several documentaries that were partially filmed and jammed together. My girlfriend (a foil fencer) made the observation that the film seemed like the introductory episode to a series on the topic. If reclaiming the blade could be expanded into a multi-episode documentary it could be terrific with time to explore various topics like sport fencing, the multitude of different western sword styles, theatrical swordsmanship, eastern martial arts in the west, design & construction of swords etc. in depth.
The documentary that we got covers all of those, and more, but with odd fits and starts of depth. The chronology jumps around a bit. The movie is ostensibly about the rediscovery and re-emergence of western medieval / Renaissance swordsmanship. That is the movie's stated purpose, but only something like a third of this 78 minute movie deals with that. There is little discussion about the actual masters who wrote this stuff down, and only a few names are dropped.
One major problem can be seen on the cover. The scored interviews with Viggo Mortensen, Karl Urban, Richard Taylor & his WETA team. This takes huge chunks of film time to talk about Hollywood sword fights and nice but very long AFI style montage of sword fights. Instead of being a nice minute or two about how Hollywood's influence on the views of swordsmanship, it becomes the savior of swordsmanship. (Not even a bone to literature? Or Prince Valiant? Or D&D?) Now there is a gem here. They scored an interview with Bob Anderson. He is the living legend of film swordsmanship. And this is the shame, he could have been the basis of a terrific documentary in of itself.
Second DVD. The WETA stuff is just promo. The instructional videos are mixed. They seem to be sent in from the sword groups and are of varying quality. By far the best is the silent video of medieval wrestling techniques by a Polish group. They are highly professional and it can be used on its own for instructional purposes, too bad no interviews made it to the main video. The Lightsaber troupe video, well we'll not say much more.
One last critique. I can understand how the filmmaker got confused, but the SCA is not reenactment. The SCA is based on a creative historical like world, reenactment is about getting as close as possible to the actual historical past.
So what's the final word. If you swing swords for fun, sure pick it up, it can be one of those things to watch with you relatives that don't get it. There are lots of nice pieces in the movie, but you might feel like you're wading around though unnecessary CGI or detours to get to them. Maybe best to get if you think this is a movie that you'll trade around with your friends."