Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blade of Fury

The Action Mutant…
something, something, tuberculosis.

Blade of Fury

review by Joe Burrows

The Plot, as it was:
Fan Yeung stars as Wong Wu, a famed swordsman who led an attempt to gain freedom against Imperial rule. He helps government official Tan Szu-Tung (Tung Li of A Better Tomorrow) & his disciple Nine Catties (Cynthia Khan) out during a bandit raid and they become fast friends. They go on to form a martial arts school in the hopes of fixing the Imperial rule from the inside. A series of events & betrayals lead to one final battle to keep the revolution alive.

Don’t shoot me…I’m only the reviewer!:
There's a lot going for Sammo Hung's effort Blade of Fury, as well as a lot going on in it. Like many of the swoop of costume dramas in Hong Kong at that time, it's well made with sweeping sets and very strong action pieces. The opening battle, bandit raid and final showdown are sequences as exciting as you will find in any fight laden period drama. This should come as no surprise to anyone, as Hung (who also has a cameo as an Imperial guard) is a given for creating epic fight scenes that seem to defy description and logic (in some cases). Though sometimes noticeable and maybe a tad overused, the wire work is well done and still keeps with the artful feel of the proceedings. The principal characters, especially Li, give commendable performances though they may be hard to point out due to the English translation. To say its awkward & subpar at best would be putting it very mildly, which leads to confusion in the storytelling where there shouldn't be. It also doesn't help that there are about half a dozen subplots that take place in the film's midsection before it comes back to the main point. That, and a lack of action during that middle portion (aside from some top notch fight scenes during a tournament setup) may take some out of what was set to be important and that's the story. Though one doesn't flock to a Sammo Hung flick for the drama, that's what's mainly pushed here and all of the elements working against that makes this a near epic misfire. By all means, stay for the action and the grand intentions of the film; just don't expect legendary results.

Body Count/Violence: 92! When you see a character leap up and slice five heads off in one fell swoop within the first ten minutes, you know there are some sterling expectations to be met. And damn if Uncle Sammo doesn't deliver! Since swords lead this symphony of destruction, there are people slashed, stabbed, beheaded, sliced in half and even split in two! Loads of fighting with various weapons as well as explosions, dart throwing and a horse crashing through a sod wall! Trust me, all of the exclamations are needed.

Sexuality/Nudity: Nothing.

Language/Dialogue: A few mild obscenities but nothing notable.

How bad was it?:
The critics admit that while this was a nice change of pace for Hung, it may have also been too ambitious. One critic also pointed out that the fight scenes may have been too crazy for such a realistic drama.

Did it make the studio’s day?:
Blade of Fury debuted in Hong Kong on 7/15/93. Despite the work behind and in front of the camera, the film bombed upon release and only lasted a week in HK theaters. It is also notable for capsizing the career of infamous producer Lo Wei.

Film: **1/2/*****
Entertainment value: ***1/2/*****

Copyright 2012 The Action Mutant.

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