The Shadowless Sword
What a gorgeous high flying Korean wuxia this is. It is
as if the director Kim Young-jun spent his formative years slavishly and
repeatedly consuming the Hong Kong wuxias of Tsui Hark, Ching Siu-Tung, Yuen
Woo-ping, King Hu and Chor Yuen. Kim takes it all in like a junkie and splashes
all of it on the screen in Shadowless Sword. It felt like a return to the
1990's for me. Now this is not to indicate that this film is close to the
Swordsman trilogy or Dragon Inn or Magic Blade or A Touch of Zen in quality
but is a fair amount of fun. Wirework galore. Yup. Flying darts. Yup. Exploding
bodies. Yup. Exploding water. Yup. Strong deadly beautiful females. Yup.
Swordplay. Yup. Great costumes. Yup. Evil villains. Yup. Dead bodies all
over. Yup. It is all here.
Unfortunately, so is too much typical Korean melodrama and two leads who
don't really engender much empathy. In fact, the villains are so much cooler
and more interesting than the heroes. So between the many imaginative colorful
action scenes is a lot of tedious dialogue and some whining as well. Still
they are well worth sitting through because the next action scene is just
around the corner. None of these actors are trained in martial arts though
apparently they did a lot of training before the film shooting began - so
the director uses massive amounts of editing to make them look good but he
does it with flair and almost seamlessly. It just looks so good.
The plot takes place in the 900's and there is the normal internecine wars
in Korean between two competing powers. One uses the Killer Blade mercenaries
to kill off all of the royal family. With one exception - a prince (Shin
Hyeon-jun) who has been in hiding for years and has become a shady criminal.
A bodyguard is sent to protect him - and a stunning female bodyguard it is
who comes in the demure form of Yoon So-yi who is a master killer. The bad
guys soon show up (Lee Seo-jin and Lee Ki-yong) and their many minions soon
show up and it is all go from that point on. The Prince has no desire to
go back and take on his responsibilities and unite his people but his bodyguard
tries to bring out the King in this. There isn't much doubt of that.
After watching the film I eagerly looked up the filmographies of both the
two female stars - both are ravishing and though Yoon So-yi underplays her
role to a fault she is serenely lovely - but it turns out they have very
little work that I can access. Yoon had already been in Arahan which was
a contemporary wuxia film that I saw a long time back and has done basically
TV since this film and Lee Ki-yong was a model and appeared in only one more
film (My Wife is a Gangster 3) after this. Oh well.
My Rating: 7.5