Saturday, April 23, 2022

#2,743. The Blade (1995) - Quentin Tarantino Recommends


When listing his favorite movies released since 1992 (notable because that’s the year he himself became a director thanks to Reservoir Dogs), Quentin Tarantino mentioned - among others - 1995’s The Blade, which he called a “martial arts extravaganza”.

Directed with gusto by Tsui Hark, The Blade is an explosive, crisply edited, action-packed motion picture, and I loved every minute of it!

Siu Ling (Song Lei), whose father (Austin Wai) owns and operates a world-class sword-making facility, has fallen in love with two of her dad’s employees: Ding On (Wehzhuo Zhao), who was orphaned as a child when his own father was murdered, and Ti Dao (Moses Chan), whose temper occasionally lands both himself and good friend Ding On in hot water.

Ding On is eventually chosen to be the new master of the sword factory, a decision that does not sit well with Ti Dao or the other employees. Having no desire to become the next boss, Ding On instead sets out to track down his father’s killer, a tattooed assassin known only as The Falcon (Xiong Xinxin). But a run-in with some bandits results in Ding On losing a portion of his right arm, and as he attempts to overcome his disability by teaching himself martial arts, Siu Ling and Ti Dao set out to find Ding On and convince him to return home with them.

Ding On, however, is set in his ways, and will either get his revenge or die in the process.

A remake of the Shaw Brothers’ 1967 classic The One Armed Swordsman, The Blade has style to spare; the fight scenes are exhilarating, with Hark pulling out all the stops, relying on sharp angles and frenzied editing to get our collective pulses pounding.

Just as impressive is how Hark generates this same level of energy when the action slows down; he lets his creative juices flow throughout The Blade, even during those scenes designed to flesh out its characters. A later sequence, where Ti Dao captures a prostitute (played superbly by Valerie Chow) he claims to have saved, only to anger Siu Ling later that same evening (she catches him having sex with the prostitute), is just as vigorously paced as the film’s epic finale, a confrontation between Ding On and the Falcon you’ll have to see to believe.

Crammed with style and vivacity, The Blade is, indeed, a wild ride, and once it’s over you’ll be dying to hop on again!
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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