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Blade of Fury
Year: 1993
Sammo Hung
Director: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo
Action: Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Chiu Cheung-Gwan
Cast: Yeung Fan, Ti Lung, Cynthia Khan, Rosamund Kwan Chi-Lam, Chiu Cheung-Gwan, Collin Chou (Ngai Sing), Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Wong Kam-Kong, Lau Shun, James Tien Chun, Yip Wing-Cho
The Skinny: A messy story and uninspired exposition weigh down Blade of Fury, but the action and emotions are solid. Not a perfect film, but an enjoyable one.
by Kozo:
     Sammo Hung directs Blade of Fury, an enjoyable, though somewhat messy martial arts film mixing political intrigue, questionable performances, and balls-to-the-wall martial arts choreography. Martial arts master Wang Wu (Yeung Fan) was once captain of the "Black Flag Troop", a group of sword-wielding martial artists bent on expelling imperialists from China. After a tragedy leaves him the lone survivor of his troop, Wang goes into self-imposed exile, only to be discovered and brought back to the world by government official Tan Tzu-Tung (Ti Lung). With the help of Tan, Wang sets up a martial arts school at the capital. Wang's nationalism comes to the fore when he joins Tan Tzu-Tung in a plan to get rid of the Empress Dowager in order to restore China to greatness. However, their plan is countered by those who don't seem to mind a little thinning of their nationalist pride. Betrayal occurs, sides are chosen, and IT ALL GOES TO HELL. Fighting erupts, people die, and heroes are born.
     Blade of Fury's energetic fight choreography immediately earns it a place among the more enjoyable genre films of the nineties. The action is frequently undercranked and sometimes over-the-top, but it's exciting stuff that flows fast and furiously. The cast is a mixture of fighters trying to act and actors trying to fight, and for the most part, it works, though there are a few debits. Some of the actors aren't very charismatic, and Rosamund Kwan is wasted in a mystifyingly small flower vase role. Still, lead Yeung Fan shows steely presence, Ti Lung brings power and integrity to the pivotal role of Tan Tzu-Tung, and Cynthia Khan and Collin Chou (AKA: Ngai Sing) turn in fine support. Sammo Hung only has a small cameo as a palace guard, but his quick duel with Yeung Fan is a highlight of the film.
     The character of Wang Wu was also the subject of the 1973 Shaw Brothers flick The Iron Bodyguard, starring Chen Kuan-Tai. As in its predecessor, politics and themes of nationalism play a big part, though in Blade of Fury, many of the themes are reduced to droning exposition that could induce snoring. When the themes are mixed into the action, e.g. during the first violent blow-out between Wang Wu and Japanese imperialists, the politics makes a bigger impact. However, even then there are too many players and too many ideas to truly register, Rosamund Kwan's underwritten character being one of them. Sammo Hung can't give the plot much energy, but he gets many of the emotions dead on. When certain characters meet their fates, the effect can be genuinely stirring. Blade of Fury is far from a perfect film, as it can't make its main narrative that interesting or even coherent. However, for martial arts junkies who enjoy the fast-and-dirty Hong Kong action of the nineties and not the over-choreographed ballet battles of the new millenium, Blade of Fury should easily satisfy. (Kozo 1996/2006)

  Copyright 2002-2017 Ross Chen