October 16, 2008

The Legend of the Shadowless Sword (2005)

Originally I had planned this to be a review of the Thai fight-flick Born to Fight. However, plans don't always go the way you want them to, and after two cracked discs were delivered to me I decided to depart from Thailand and head on over to Korea to give this movie a chance. I'd never heard of it before, but Korea has been putting out some of the most exciting and varied cinema over the past fews years so I thought I would give it a chance.

It's 10th Century Korea and Balhae has been invaded, with the attackers killing off as many of the royal family as possible in their attempts to create their own kingdom. Desperate, the surviving council members convene to find out if there are any princes left that could take the throne and hopefully quash the invasion, restoring peace to the country.

Wouldn't you just know it that there is one prince, one that was sent into exile many years ago and now lives in a distant village buying rare artifacts. So, they send a lone warrior to find him and escort him back to take his place on the throne.

Initially the exiled prince wants nothing to do with it, at first thinking his escort is an assassin sent to kill him. She assures him though that that is not the case, and finally persuades him to follow her. So begins an epic journey back to the palace, a journey that will involve them getting into many fights as the Killer Blade Army will do anything to stop them reaching their destination.

The Legend of the Shadowless Sword is one Hell of an epic fight movie. There isn't an awful lot going on in the way of plot, although the backstory gets filled in as the movie progresses giving it a little more depth, but for the most part it is a period piece road movie with copious amounts of fantastic swordfighting scenes thrown in, replete with plenty of wirework skills.

This is a quite sumptuous movie to look at, the scenery is gorgeous and everything looks quite superb. Limbs are hacked off, bodies explode, however this isn't a gory movie. At times it comes across as a live-action cartoon, full of over the top mayhem, evil villians, virtuous heroes and the old adage that everyone can change. It is a little sugary in places, fortunately not too much though, well not until the final few minutes or so. This doesn't really matter though as the action sequences and scenery more than make up for this and the movie's shortcomings in the plot department.

This is a battle between good and evil that I do recommend. Just be prepared for 2 hours of frantic swordplay, leaping wirework, heartfelt vocal outbursts, stunning visuals and not much else.

Rating 3 stars

Review by Jude Felton