SHADOWLESS SWORD blu-ray review

Taiwan Region A blu-ray

1080p Widescreen 2.39:1

Korean: LPCM 5.1, DD 5.1

Subtitles: English, Mandarin

IMDB

 

MOVIE: 8

VIDEO QUALITY: 9

AUDIO QUALITY: 9

ENGLISH SUBTITLES: 8.5

EXTRAS: 1

 

SHADOWLESS SWORD is surprisingly a good wuxia/swordplay movie with great action, a decent story and good acting! I was expecting it to be like the awful SHINOBI or fair AZUMI, but I got just the opposite. It’s basically about a female warrior who goes on a journey to find a prince from a falling empire and talk him into becoming the new king. During this journey, they are chased by the bad guys. It’s sort of like THE TWO TOWERS and HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS in which they are always on the run, trying to reach a destination, and the prince is dealing with some Aragorn issues a la LORD OF THE RINGS. It’s a simple story, but done very well. What makes this different from the usual wuxia bunch is that the director throws some humor in the film. In the film, there are some low-class scum criminals that are all imitating and look like Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN – they all do a great impersonation too! There is also an assortment of interesting villains in the movie. The main villain played by Hyeon-jun Shin (who was the protagonist in BICHENMOO) is quite an interesting actor. Throughout the movie, his subtle style of acting makes it hard to figure out if he is really bad or good – sort of a dark character a la Christian Bale style, like a vigilante, but can’t really tell if his character is going to do something heroic or something totally demented.

The action in this movie is pretty sweet! Although it’s quick cut, it’s done in a tasteful way to appreciate the choreography. The scenes are long enough to build intensity as well. The two best scenes in the movie are a rooftop chase in the dark (sort of like a cross between the cops chasing Trinity at the beginning of MATRIX and the rooftop night chase from CROUTCHING TIGER) and an extremely original scene with the main two characters avoiding the baddies underwater in which the baddies (above ground) are throwing Chinese Stars into the water at such a rapid and massive attack, they probably killed all the fish in the water. It is then followed by a underwater swordfighting scene which I haven’t seen in martial arts movies before. So, there is some pretty cool choreography and some tricky wirework. There was definitely a lot of work put into the moves.

SHADOWLESS SWORD is the fourth best Korean wuxia/swordplay/martial arts movie that I’ve seen. The only other three that I have found to be the only good ones from Korean cinema are BICHENMOO, MUSA, and THE LEGEND OF EVIL LAKE. These four Korean movies have been the most balanced period-piece action movies that actually have a decent story, good acting, and are touching films.

I used to have the Korean DVD of this film (not the USA DVD), and this Taiwanese Region A blu-ray is a big upgrade! The 1080p video is very crisp. There were many night scenes and it looked very nice – just a bit more grainy during night scenes. The movie has a good balance of jumping to very dark claustrophic night scenes to very bright open-spaced day scenes. So it made me appreciate the video quality more since it wasn’t just sticking to one color tone. The Korean LPCM 5.1 is just awesome! There are many scenes with flying daggers, flying swords, flying spears, arrows swishing all over the place. It was a really nice mix. The English subtitles are very solid as well.

Pretty good movie! This director Young-jun Kim, who also did BICHENMOO, might be on his way in becoming the Yimou Zhang of Korea.

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