The Swordsman review by Bobby Blakey
Well Go USA continues to be the premiere distributor for the best Asian cinema around. Their latest release The Swordsman from first time writer/director Choi Jae-hoon and stars Jang Hyuk, Kim Hyeon-soo, Joe Taslim, Jeong Man-sik, Lee Na-kyung and Lee Min-hyuk. Could this latest martial arts epic bring something fresh and violent to the genre or will it be to blind to hit its mark?
The Swordsman follows Joseon’s greatest swordsman who goes into hiding, far removed from his city’s anguish after being blinded in a coup against the king. But when traffickers kidnap his daughter, he has no choice but to unsheathe his sword once more. I was pretty stoked to see this one as I love all things martial arts especially when it focus on a specific style or weapon. Add to that the addition of The Raid’s Joe Taslim and I am all in.
The film is a slow build with plenty of action that allows you to understand all the varying conflicts between all the characters and kingdoms before unleashing the fury. The story is pretty simple, but has just enough layers to get you invested in the hero’s journey of redemption and vengeance. Jang Hyuk does a great job at bearing the weight of this character bringing all the emotion and inner struggle needed to sympathize with him.
Joe Taslim is a great villain here bringing a subtle evil to his character. Coupled with those that surround him he stands out making you eager to not only see what he will do next, but the expected confrontation with Hyuk. When the tone shifts to the full on action it comes fast and bloody in the best way possible. I loved the choreography throughout that knocks the action out of the park. The focus lives up to the title keeping it mostly to the sword play that is all kinds of awesome.
I really loved this movie as a whole. It screamed old school martial arts with an infusion of modern style that really delivered a great addition to the genre. Grab your copy of The Swordsman when it hits Blu-ray and DVD on February 16th from Well Go USA.