The Emperor’s Sword review by Bobby Blakey
Well Go USA is not only the premiere distributor for Asian cinema, but the masterminds behind their own streaming service aptly titled Hi-Yah! that features a wide variety of great flicks. Among them are original films that debut there like the latest The Emperor’s Sword starring Mu Fengbin, Yang Qiyu, Hao Yilin, Ruoyao Pan from director’s Chen Hao-nan and Zhang Ying-li. Have no fear if you don’t have it, they are bringing the film home to Blu-ray and DVD, but does it bring the epic action it promises or will it fail to defend its rule?
The Emperor’s Swordsman follows the chaotic rule of Qin Shi Huang ruled China as his Qin Dynasty is about to be usurped by Zhao Gao. For a time, heroes came together to guard the Ding Qin sword that could stabilize the country, so as not to fall into the hands of the enemy. Ji Lian a loyal subject of the Qin Dynasty did not retreat from the untold fighters sent by the wicked Zhao Gao, and vowed to stick to the last moment of life to safeguard the sword and the Qin dynasty.
In a world filled with high octane action and some outstanding martial artists on the big screen these days every film in the genre has a lot to live up to. While I love all these films I am truly love the old school films even more focusing less on the flashy stuff and just going right into the simplistic nature of the arts and of course the fun wire work often brought to enhance it all. This is one of those that brings the old style to the forefront allowing the sword play to be the focal point more than the kicking and punching and delivers everything I was hoping for.
The costumes, sets and tone captures the genre to perfection and offers up some fun new things to enjoy outside of just the usual sword play. One of my favorite sequences features two people stalking each other through tall grass blindly shooting arrows at each other. It’s such a simple sequence, but the execution makes it more tense and interesting to watch. The rest of the action throughout is well done and although they used a little more slow motion elements than I would have liked still works.
This isn’t an overly impressive display of action in the way that will keep you blown away with every fight, but instead a mix of realism, skill and grounded execution that feed perfectly into the story it is telling. If you dig these kinds of martial arts flick as much as I do then this is another one worth checking out.
There isn’t a physical release date as of yet, but you can check it out now exclusively on the streaming service Hi-Yah! now. For more information on the film or to sign up for Hi-Yah! head over to www.hiyahtv.com