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Soul of the Sword

Hong Kong 1978
produced by
Shaw Brothers
directed by Hua Shan
starring Ti Lung, Lin Chen-chi, Ku Feng, Hsu Shiao-chiang, Lily Li

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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When a young boy sees a swordsman challenging Lu, the King of Swords, who is dressed all black & always keeps his face covered, but sees that man killed by Lu & his wife committing suicide right on the spot, he is deeply impressed, setting himself only one goal in life: to one day beat Lu in fight, uncover his face  become King of Swords himself. 

He trains for years to become a great swordsman, Nameless (Ti Lung), & kills many another swordsman (or -woman for that matter) - but he is always haunted by the image of the woman who killed herself at Lu's place when he was a kid. So when his only friend, healer Chiu (Ku Feng) takes him to a brothel one day, he is less interested in the prostitutes but more in a storevendor, Ho Lien (Lin Chen-chi), who he spots from the brothel's window & who is a spitting image of the suicidal woman from his childhood. But unfortunately, fellow but inferior swordsman Yien has also designs on her, so Nameless has to beat him in order to get to Ho-lien, who he then takes with him, & beds against her will. 

Soon though she does indeed fall in love with him & tries to persuade him to forget about his duel with Lu - which of course he can't. 

Meanwhile Yien makes an attempt at Nameless' life, but fails & is only saved by Ho-lien's timely intervention. Healer Chiu in the meantime tries to persuade Nameless to forget about the duel since his mind is filled with the love for Ho-lien, which would be a grave disadvantage in battle, so Nameless does the only sensible thing (well, in his mind, anyway) & kills Ho-lien (!!!). 

In the duel between Lu & Nameless, which follows almost immediately, Nameless manages to unmask Lu who turns out to be none other than healer Chiu, & because Chiu has a certain fondness for Nameless, Nameless has all the advantages he needs to beat & kill his adversary & become King of Swords. 

It is only then, with friend & girl killed by his hand, that he realizes how bitter his triumph is, & he leaves the scene disillusioned - but upon arriving back home, he is caught off-guard by Yien, who has secured the services of superior swordswoman Lady of 3 Moves, & they both violently attack him. Nameless does manage to kill them both, but at the cost of his own life.


Very bleak vision of the martial arts world - where titles & victories count more than friendship, even love, to a point when the guy initially presented as hero does kill his girl & his only friend just to win a duel -, that draws a very dark picture of this world even within genre conventions. Fleshed out characters, good action & careful (if conventional) direction help considerably to bring that point across.


review © by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD



Stell Dir vor, Deine Lieblingsseifenoper birgt eine tiefere Wahrheit ...
... und stell Dir vor, der Penner von der U-Bahnstation hat doch recht ...
... und dann triffst Du auch noch die Frau Deiner (feuchten) Träume ...


Und an diesem Tag geht natürlich wieder einmal die Welt unter!!!


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