Swordsman II

This is what makes HK movies such an absolute kick to watch; incredibly imaginative, full of energy and colors and startling images and swirling action. It will make your head spin from the beginning to the very end.

Brigitte Lin as the sexually transmuting Asia the Invincible - and Jet Li give masterful and charismatic performances. Its amazing that anyone can project so much with a baleful glare or an enigmatic smile as Brigitte does in this movie .

There is just so much going on in this kung fu period flying fantasy film that I can't describe it - sword fighting, magic, sexual ambiguities. It is difficult to describe what the movie is about as it is quite complex and takes many twists, but it is fascinating and visually spectacular. Produced by Tsui Hark. Michelle Reis and Rosamund Kwan are also on hand to fight evil. This film is a sensory feast for the eyes and one of the truly great films to come out of HK or anywhere else.
 
 

My rating for this film: 9.5


 Reviewed by YTSL
 
Once in a blue moon, if you're lucky (and not too jaded), you catch a movie that unleashes so many amazing things, ideas, sights and scenes -- and bombards them in such rapid succession -- at you that you just can't believe you're actually beholding it even as they appear and unfold on the screen in front of you.  Part of you gasps at one surprising piece of action even as another part of you is trying to process some other occurrence.  You find yourself laughing with glee over some delightful touch even as your eyes still glisten and heart aches because of a moving previous episode.  SWORDSMAN II provides me with precisely this kind of experience.
On the action front:  It's not just that people fly, grass-glide and twirl in the air in this seminal new-wave fantasy-drama but that they do so oh so gracefully, spectacularly and beautifully.  And while the delirious swordplay alone makes for this Ching Siu Tung-helmed effort having higher quality fight scenes than many other movies that fall into the same genre, it is with such as the battle which involves live scorpions and snakes as well as ninjas who fly into the fray on rotating blades, and the climactic confrontation whose verbal thrusts are as wonderfully cutting and winning as the actual physical action, that SWORDSMAN II sets itself apart.
With regards to the characters:  One sentence descriptions of the two protagonists hardly do them justice yet should be sufficient to emphasize how extraordinary they are (and this Tsui Hark production is).  We are, after all, talking here about such unforgettable individuals as:  A "villain" named Asia the Invincible (portrayed throughout by the remarkable Brigitte Lin Ching-Hsia) who castrates himself -- to acquire supernatural power so that his Sun and Moon sect will get the respect he considers it to deserve from the Chinese Emperor and others -- and (consequently) physically transforms from a man into a woman over the course of the movie; and a wine-loving --so much that he spins hysterically in the air after he tastes that which he considers exquisite -- reluctant hero (essayed with no little charm and humor as well as athleticism by Jet Li) who plans to retire from the martial world.
Only in SWORDSMAN II would the following be mere subsidiary characters:  A young woman (who comes in the form of the hardly plain-looking Michelle Reis) referred to as Kiddo who yearns to be the hero's main love rather than (just) the sidekick or comrade he considers her to be; a melancholy-tinged, whip-wielding female alternative -- to her Uncle Asia! -- acting -- in the mysterious absence of her father -- chief of the Highlanders (solidly played by Rosamund Kwan) who is apt to sit and drink on rooftops; and a loyal but outspoken deputy by the name of Blue Phoenix (portrayed by the under-rated Fennie Yuen) who practices what can only be described as toxic "snake-fu".
Lest there be some doubt or worry, I can assure the reader that there remains so much to and in SWORDSMAN II that will undoubtedly surprise and astound him or her if (when) he or she sits down to watch this wondrous movie.  Confession:  A major reason why this review does not describe the film's plot is not because it is uninteresting but because it is as thick, dense, complex and convoluted as it is breakneck.  I think that it says so much about the story in particular as well as the movie as a whole that IMHO, this enthralling masterwork is more satisfyingly viewed as an engaging dramatic production than as an action spectacle...

About the only experience this art lover as well as Hong Kong movie fan can think of as having been comparable to my first encounter with SWORDSMAN II was my going into one of the rooms of the Louvre and finding myself in the presence of not just one but multiple major visual treasures.  While I am aware that it may sound ridiculous to some people, the fact of the matter is that I do consider this 1992 Film Workshop offering to be as great a testament to the possibilities and breadth of human creativity and imagination as many museum-quality art works.

My rating for this film:  10.