Love and Sword
Goldenswallow | UK | 03/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
Love and Sword is quality Taiwanese production from 1979 directed by Li Chia very much in a similar vein to his other works such as Lost Swordship and Pai Yu Ching. As the title would suggest there is more of an emphasis on the romantic aspects of the story than in many such films although this doesn't really get in the way of the action. The plot is quite easy to follow for a Gu Long adaptation and is basically a vehicle for Tien Peng to wander around various scenic locations and get into sword fights - which can't be a bad thing. After watching love and sword I can't help feeling that there are many similarities between Li Chia and the great Chor Yuen in as much as they both try, with some success, to visually recreate the fantasy world that authors like Gu Long write about. Where Li Chia has the advantage though is that he has the beautiful scenery of Tawain as his backdrop rather than having to rely on indoor sets - and he uses these to maximum effect in love and sword. He also has the knack (not unlike Chor Yuen) for framing a shot in such a way as to create the kind of aesthetically pleasing compositions normally found in paintings or more `arty' films. Good stuff.
As I mentioned before Tien Peng manages to get into plenty of sword fights on his travels - whether he's defending himself from assassins or getting his revenge on the murderers there's enough action to please even the most demanding viewer and it's of a high quality throughout. The highlights for me were when he fought against the arrogant Chu Chen Yu (Tien Ho) with his `special move' that involved speedily circling around his opponent until he was overwhelmed by his sword lashing out at him from all angles. He used this move again at the end of the film after a particularly long and satisfying fight against his ultimate nemesis, I haven't described it to well but thanks to a bit of creative camera work it's something to behold! The rest of the action is easily on a par with any that you would see in Tien Peng's best films like Jade Fox or Pai Yu Ching and just as frequent.
With love and sword director Li Chia shows how to make a top quality wuxia adaptation, while the story is fairly average the film is made with enough visual flair to raise it above average. Add to this another good performance from Tien Peng, some great fighting and a decent soundtrack and you can't really go wrong. On the negative side the romantic angle was a little bit over done for my tastes (think of the string section welling up at the end of House of Flying Daggers, that sort of thing) but I suppose it was consistent with the theme of Gu Long's novel and in focusing on the relationship between Hsia Feng and his missus it gives the ending a bit more impact (You'll have to watch it to see what I mean!).
For swordplay fans and Tien Peng fans...highly recommended!
Sadly, the sword comes before love in martial arts movies
morgoth | omaha, NE | 03/13/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I always love it when a movie lives up to it's English translated title. Roc Tien has to balance his love for a blind woman and his sword fighting. The story is not great, but not bad. Roc Tien Peng always dominates the screen when he enters, and is such a magnificent actor. Tien Ho (guy with fur coat in 'Elimination Pursuit') and Wang Chung ('The Water Margin') also star as swordsmen, and the whole cast does a very good job, even the little kid. This movie is set in the martial world meaning it is fantasy, but the stories are usually good with plenty of fights. Just like a lot of good wuxias, it has stunning cinematography, flying around with good wirework and trampoline use, and at least 1 doublecrossing. I cannot write too much about this movie, because I would have to give something away. What I can tell you is I highly recommend this to fans of pretty much any genre, and the movie is helped by a good directing job. The ending is worth the somewhat slow story. And while it is slow at times, I was never bored.
Other than a special technique of superhuman speed that Roc Tien can use, the action is better than average. The superhuman speed thing is actually kind of cool because of the good editing, but I prefer for the gimmicks to be left out. In 'The Lost Swordship' (another Rarescope movie with Roc Tien) the action takes a back seat to the storytelling, but the action is much better in this. The duel that comes with about 20 minutes left is an absolute classic of the genre. This fight alone probably took about 3 days to shoot and is definitely worth seeing. 4/5
Widescreened and letterboxed, and decent picture quality. It looks like the transfer to DVD could have been a lot better. It is still more than watchable, and at least 95% of the subtitles can be easily read. There are a couple of really fun errors too. The Mandarin track is fine, but has a constant sound glitch that is sort of annoying, espcially when things are supposed to be deadly silent. I am willing to forgive quite a lot just to see a great rare movie, so it was acceptable for me. Now if you are expecting to watch this in English, prepare to get very angry. The English track is out of sync by a second or 2. I could care less since I always read the subs when I can, but it is sad that the English track is completely wasted. Why even put in the time to do one? Rarescope movies are EXREMELY cheap and more than worth the low price, but messing up the English dub is something that really turns people off.
There is also a documentary included called 'Wu Tang Mountain documentary on the sacred mountain'. Of course it is Wudang Moutain and that title just comes from the back of the DVD case. The documentary is actually called 'Wudang Mountain Martial Arts and Taoism'. I don't know if Rarescope(BCI) realizes that Ol Dirty and bunch just changed the spelling. Anyway, this gives you location shots and info on Taoism and some martial arts displays and is 13 minutes long. The commentator is pretty corny and fun to listen to. It won't give you any insight into the martial world or the novels where these stories come from, but it is a welcome special feature for martial arts fans."