At the end of the Warring States period, seven states fought for dominance. The nobles from each state sent brave warriors to duel in the Tiger Arena to resolve various disputes. The warrior from Wei was the minister of war and gained his reputation for defending his country against invaders. However, after he is framed and the country falls in ruin, he picks up with weapons and armor to fight again.
This is a story of three swordsmen, Jongul, Sullang, and Dukgi, who led an uprising during the era of the Koryo Dynasty.
Huang Xiaoming, Vincent Zhao, Wang Huebing and Li Xinru also star. Watch the trailer below!
Writer and director Lu Yang‘s summer 2014 period actioner, Brotherhood Of Blades, didn’t exactly get a lot of press leading up to its theatrical release. Fortunately, the film did manage to muster some critical and commerical acclaim, and thankfully, that won’t be all we hear.
John Woo cohort Terence Chang produced the film along with Wang Donghui, Ling Hong, with a script co-written by Chen Shu set in seventeenth-century China where three sworn brothers-imperial soldiers Lu, Shen Lian, and Yichuan who are tasked by their new Emperor to hunt down an allegedly corrupt eunich, only to find themselves at the center of an unyielding conspiracy with danger at every turn. Chang Chen, Cecilia Liu, Qing Ye and Nie Yuan led the cast with Sang Lin (Red Cliff 1 and 2) directing the action of which some you can catch in the film’s latter-released promotional spots, and naturally, you probably would not have guessed that there would be more to the story involving this particular product.
As it turns out though, the result is much more to the contrary thanks to an update forwarded from Chinese media by Film Business Asia that the director will be returning to the chair with producing partner Zhang Ning for a prequel with a bigger budget and the possibility of all three male leads to reprise their roles. Pre-production is now underway with reason to be optimistic for a trilogy should the second fare equally well or better this time around. Meanwhile, Brotherhood Of Blades is currently available for pre-order at Amazon (H/T: City On Fire) courtesy of Well Go USA before its release in February next year.
Watch for more news ahead!
At some point between now and April, former actor-turned-director Derek Yee began production for his latest return to familiar territory with the period wuxia epic, Sword Master. Arriving in 2015, the film is based on late Hong Kong author Gu Long whose work inspired Yee’s then-lead starpower in the original Shaw Brothers production, Death Duel (1977), which centers around a swordsman whose past catches up to him after he fakes his own death to escape the underworld.
Written by Yee along with fellow producer Tsui Hark and co-scribe Chun Tin-Nam, Sword Master stars actor Kenny Lin in the lead opposite actor Peter Ho who plays his nemesis. Actresses Jiang Yiyan and Jiang Mengjie rounding out the cast so far listed. Yee is producing the film under his Film Unlimited banner along Bona Film Group for the film’s 3D production at Hengdian Studios for which Filmsmash has just provided a fresh batch of new set pics. Check those out below and watch out for more news ahead.
One of the biggest setbacks of not being able to read and interpret Chinese is not being able to keep up with a lot of Asian cinema first hand. So, forgive me for letting writer and award-winning director Lu Yang‘s latest contribution to wuxia action, Brotherhood Of Blades, slip through the cracks.
The film is produced by Wang Donghui and regular John Woo cohort Terence Chang, and sets its story in the late Ming Dynasty where three best friends – palace guards are whisked away on a mission to hunt down an exiled eunuch politician, only to discover layers of conspiracy upon their success. Actors Chang Chen, Wang Qianyuan, Li Dongxue, Cecilia Liu and Nie Yuan round out the cast for the film’s current China release as of a few weeks ago August 7.
If you live in China and you’ve seen the film, feel free to drop a line in the comment section and share your opinions. Otherwise, feel free to check out a few new trailers that came after the initial teaser back in June.
Jiang Yiyan, Alec Su, Liu Yan and Wu Xiubo round out the principal cast. Watch the new teaser below!
20 years after the events depicted in ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,’ four heroes of the Martial World, Silent Wolf (Donnie Yen), Yu Shu-lien (Michelle Yeoh), Tie-Fang, and Snow Vase, must use all their courage and skills to keep the legendary sword Green Destiny from the hands of the villainous Hades Dai.
Kung fu cinema fans in New York City will be getting some more screentime thanks to the kind folks at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where BAMcinématek will be hosting a new retrospective on the work of late legendary award-winning film auteur, King Hu. Known for adhering to the music and fluidity of his faved Beijing operas he loved while growing up, Hu’s credentials include over three decades in the industry in set and costume design, as well serving as actor, producer, writer and award-winning filmmaker.
Further details can be read in the followng press release from the academy, including the official announcement, days and dates, and titles to be showcased. For more information, visit the official website.
From Friday, June 6 through Tuesday, June 17, BAMcinématek presents All Hail the King: The Films of King Hu, a 15-film tribute to the Chinese cinematic titan. Master of the martial arts movie, King Hu revolutionized the wuxia/swordplay film, introducing a refined sense of aesthetics, attention to mise-en-scène, and an aura of mysticism to the genre that was borne out of his lifelong love for Chinese opera. With his unique blend of stoic, iconic heroes, realistic violence, and dance-styled fight choreography, Hu’s style influenced decades of subsequent Asian cinema, modernizing the wuxia in the same way that Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone changed the Western. The series includes nine features by Hu alongside a globe-spanning sidebar of films that both influenced and paid homage to him, with many screening in rare and imported 35mm prints from around the world. All Hail the King is programmed by Andrew Chan and Nellie Killian and presented in conjunction with the Taipei Cultural Center of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in New York.
Born in Beijing, Hu emigrated to Hong Kong as a teenager and drifted into jobs in the film industry, where he came to specialize as an actor and a set designer. For the famous Shaw Brothers studio, Hu worked as an assistant to director Li Han-hsiang on two films, including The Love Eterne (1963–Jun 7), a musical romance so popular in Asia that lines of its dialogue became catchphrases. Hu’s breakthrough film as a director, Come Drink With Me (1966–Jun 8), introduced the first of his many badass heroines: Cheng Pei-pei as the unforgettable Golden Swallow, first glimpsed decimating a tavern full of gangsters with her faster-than-lightning hands.
Already notorious for his meticulous, intractable attention to detail, Hu clashed with producer Run Run Shaw over Come Drink With Me and left for Taiwan to make Dragon Inn (1967–Jun 14), a Ming Dynasty revenge yarn that cemented Hu’s commanding mature style of dynamic widescreen compositions, tracking shots, and rapidly edited combat scenes. Two years in the making, A Touch of Zen (1971–Jun 6) is Hu’s magnum opus, depicting the larger-than-life battles between a female fugitive (Hsu Feng) and her pursuers from the point-of-view of a humble scholar (Shih Jun) who becomes her protector and lover. With its famously transcendental ending, A Touch of Zen literally took wuxia to another level and remains highly influential–contemporary Chinese master Jia Zhangke paid it tribute with last year’s acclaimed A Touch of Sin.
Working independently and on a smaller scale after the box office failure of A Touch of Zen, Hu made the spy vs. spy melodrama The Fate of Lee Khan (1973–Jun 15), a claustrophobic “inn film.” Hu loved this setting, a place where people of all classes and professions would interact that explodes into violence in the last reel. By contrast, The Valiant Ones (1975–Jun 13) is non-stop action from start to finish, as the titular heroes rout a gang of Japanese pirates along the Chinese coast.
Next Hu made two back-to-back films in sumptuous South Korean locations: the languorous supernatural epic Legend of the Mountain (1979–Jun 16) and the twisty Raining in the Mountain (1979–Jun 17), a story of temple intrigue in which wit supplants weaponry. Legendary Taiwanese New Wave screenwriter Wu Nien-jen (The Puppetmaster) co-wrote Hu’s rarely-screened, 10th-century dark comedy All the King’s Men (1983–Jun 11), and a new generation of martial arts stars (including Sammo Hung and Joey Wong) headlined his final film, Painted Skin (1992–Jun 10), a ghost story based on the same collection of Pu Songling stories as A Touch of Zen.
Also screening are Kurosawa’s samurai classic Seven Samurai (1954–Jun 15), a major influence that Hu called “a real martial arts picture,” and Nicholas Ray’s own “inn film” Johnny Guitar (1954–Jun 7), whose gunslinger leading ladies (Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge) parallel Hu’s female combatants. Hu disciple Tsui Hark pays homage to the ending of The Valiant Ones in his sweat-and-blood-soaked The Blade (1995–Jun 13), just as the acrobatic action scenes in Ang Lee’s crossover hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000–Jun 9) invoke A Touch of Zen’s balletic bamboo forest fight. Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003–Jun 14), Tsai Ming-liang’s tribute to Hu and to the twilight of cinema itself, features cameos by two of Hu’s stock company, Shih Jun and Miao Tien, in the audience for the final show of a closing Taipei movie theater–a screening of Dragon Inn.
All Hail the King: The Films of King Hu Schedule
Fri, Jun 6
7:30pm: A Touch of Zen
Sat, Jun 7
2, 7pm: The Love Eterne
4:40, 9:40pm: Johnny Guitar
Sun, Jun 8
4:30pm: Come Drink with Me
Mon, Jun 9
4:30, 7, 9:30pm: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Tue, Jun 10
8pm: Painted Skin
Wed, Jun 11
8pm: All the King’s Men
Fri, Jun 13
2, 4:30, 9:30pm: The Blade
7pm: The Valiant Ones
Sat, Jun 14
4:30, 9:30pm: Goodbye, Dragon Inn
7pm: Dragon Inn
Sun, Jun 15
2, 8:15pm: Seven Samurai
6pm: The Fate of Lee Khan
Mon, Jun 16
8pm: Legend of the Mountain
Tue, Jun 17
8pm: Raining in the Mountain
All films in 35mm unless otherwise noted.
All the King’s Men (1983)
Directed by King Hu. With Cheng Pei-pei, Tang Paoyun, Tian Feng.
Hu introduced a wry sense of humor into the historical epic form with this lavish, gorgeous tale of court intrigue, power plays, and elaborate political machinations during the tail end of the Tang Dynasty. Set in the 10th century BC, this dizzyingly complex story revolves around a sickly emperor who sends his prime minister to infiltrate the neighboring kingdom and bring back the only doctor capable of saving his life.
The Blade (1995) 105 min.
Directed by Tsui Hark. With Vincent Zhao, Moses Chan, Hung Yan-yan.
A longtime favorite of Quentin Tarantino, and widely considered one of Tsui Hark’s greatest and most audacious films, this brutal homage to the macho Hong Kong action films of the 1960s follows the tale of an orphan raised by the owner of a sword factory and his quest to avenge the death of his father. Reimagining the Chang Cheh martial arts classic The One-Armed Swordsman, The Blade also incorporates visual homages to the films of King Hu, who served as Tsui’s most important mentor and whom he eventually replaced as director on the legendary wuxia film Swordsman. Praising its show-stopping montage sequences, scholar Stephen Teo compares Tsui’s work to “the incredible technical effect King Hu achieved in The Valiant Ones.”
Come Drink with Me (1966) 95 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Cheng Pei-pei, Yueh Hua, Chan Hung-lit.
Hu’s first wuxia film is a landmark marriage of swordplay with the stylized grandeur of Chinese opera, in which a woman (Cheng) goes undercover as a warrior in order to rescue her brother from the clutches of the Five Tiger Gang. A seminal work of Hong Kong cinema, this Shaw Brothers production established a number of Hu’s recurring motifs: a strong female action hero, lavish art direction, and elaborately choreographed, balletic fight sequences.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) 119 min.
Directed by Ang Lee. With Chow Yun-Fat, Michelle Yeoh, Zhang Ziyi.
Ang Lee revitalized the wuxia genre with this exhilarating, fairy tale-like epic of warriors and thieves battling for possession of Green Destiny, a mythic 400-year-old sword. Justly celebrated for its transcendent, airborne action sequences, this Academy Award-winning international mega-hit is rife with references to Hu’s work–particularly the famous bamboo grove fight in A Touch of Zen.
Dragon Inn (1966) 111 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Polly Shangguang Lingfeng, Bai Ying, Miao Tien.
In this martial arts classic, a trio of swordsmen and women battle the forces of a powerful, conniving eunuch plotting to wipe out the children of his political rival. Following a falling out with Shaw Brothers over his desire for more artistic control, Hu unleashed his awe-inspiringly ambitious vision in this action-packed Taiwanese production that laid the foundations for decades of wuxia films to come.
The Fate of Lee Khan (1973) 105 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Angela Mao, Li Hua Li, Hsu Feng.
The third film in Hu’s “inn trilogy” (along with Come Drink with Me and Dragon Inn) is a rollicking comic adventure that follows a band of largely female fighters out to stop a Mongol warlord from getting his hands on a valuable map. With fight choreography by none other than Sammo Hung, The Fate of Lee Khan is a rousing showcase for Hu’s formidable women warriors, including martial arts icon Angela “Lady Whirlwind” Mao.
Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003) 82 min.
Directed by Tsai Ming-liang. With Lee Kang-sheng, Chen Shiang-chyi.
Contemporary art-house darling Tsai Ming-liang pays poignant tribute to King Hu with this entrancing elegy for the golden age of Taiwanese cinema. Set in a crumbling Taipei movie palace during its last screening ever–Hu’s iconic Dragon Inn–it captures the theater’s workers and patrons (including two actors from the Hu classic) in alternately mundane and deadpan moments, as Tsai’s hypnotic long takes gradually acquire a quietly moving minimalist majesty. “A movie about the dreamy pleasures of moviegoing that is itself both haunting and haunted” (A.O. Scott, The New York Times).
Johnny Guitar (1954) 110 min.
Directed by Nicholas Ray. With Joan Crawford, Sterling Hayden, Mercedes McCambridge.
Nicholas Ray’s subversive oat opera is at once a tale of Freudian passion, a camp vehicle for star Joan Crawford, and a florid satire of the Hollywood blacklist, released even as Senator Joe McCarthy staged his last investigation. With its powerful female protagonists, insular saloon setting, and feverishly stylized aesthetic, it makes for a fascinating Hollywood companion piece to King Hu’s Come Drink with Me.
Legend of the Mountain (1979) 184 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Shih Jun, Hsu Feng, Sylvia Chang.
Made in South Korea, this atmospheric supernatural fable follows a scholar (Shih) who retreats to the mountains to finish transcribing a sutra and finds himself suspended in an alternate reality, seduced by two women who may or may not be ghosts. One of Hu’s most visually ravishing works, Legend of the Mountain is a mesmerizing, mood-drenched feast for the senses. Digibeta.
The Love Eterne (1963) 126 min.
Directed by Li Han-hsiang. With Betty Loh Ti, Ivy Ling Po.
Hu cut his teeth at the legendary Shaw Brothers studio, where he assistant directed this sweeping musical based on a famed Chinese legend about a young woman (Loh) who disguises herself as a male in order to attend college and falls in love with a man who doesn’t know her true identity. Rooted in the highly stylized tradition of Chinese opera, this sumptuously mounted romance proved nothing short of a box office phenomenon throughout Asia, helping jumpstart Hu’s own directorial career.
Painted Skin (1993) 94 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Adam Cheng, Joey Wong, Sammo Hung.
Drifting away from wuxia films later in life, Hu focused instead on tales of the supernatural. His final work, based on a classic Chinese legend, is a beguiling story of a young scholar (Cheng) entangled with a beautiful ghost (the ethereal Wong) who paints her skin in order to appear human. Hu masterfully evokes an otherworldly atmosphere with his typically opulent visuals in this horror-tinged metaphysical fable, which features the great Sammo Hung as a Taoist priest.
Raining in the Mountain (1979) 120 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Hsu Feng, Sun Yueh, Shih Jun.
Hu immediately followed up Legend of the Mountain with this more action-oriented but no less pictorially lush tale of intrigue in a Ming Dynasty-era Buddhist monastery, in which a nobleman and a general each conspire to steal a valuable scroll from the temple’s library. With the action deftly confined to the monastery’s maze-like interiors, Raining in the Mountain becomes a virtuoso showcase for Hu’s typically luxurious mise-en-scène and elegant choreographing of action.
Seven Samurai (1954) 207 min.
Directed by Akira Kurosawa. With Toshirô Mifune, Takashi Shimura, Keiko Tsushima.
This sweeping chronicle of courage and heroism tells the story of 16th-century farmers who enlist a band of samurai to protect their village from invading bandits. Frequently listed as one of the greatest movies of all time, Kurosawa’s masterpiece showcases stunning cinematography, star turns from the great Toshirô Mifune and Takashi Shimura, and the director’s masterful approach to storytelling. In addition to providing source material for the classic western The Magnificent Seven, its virtuoso displays of swordplay also exerted enormous influence on the Shaw Brothers studio films and King Hu in particular, who called it a “real martial arts picture.”
A Touch of Zen (1971) 200 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Hsu Feng, Roy Chiao, Bai Ying.
Hu’s masterpiece is a mind-meltingly mystical tale of a female warrior (Hsu) who must fight for her life when the corrupt Ming dynasty targets her and her entire family for extermination. The first Chinese film to win a prize at Cannes, A Touch of Zen is part martial-arts epic, part ghost story, and part metaphysical reflection on Buddhist philosophy that bursts off the screen with Hu’s knockout visual flourishes, including the unforgettable image of a monk who bleeds gold.
The Valiant Ones (1975) 102 min.
Directed by King Hu. With Hsu Feng, Bai Ying, Roy Chiao.
Hu bid farewell to the wuxia genre with this elegiac, stylistically inventive period tale about a band of warriors battling Japanese pirates on the coast of China. The director transforms breathless fight sequences into an abstracted rush of rhythm and movement in this “daringly innovative action adventure story… The glittering images include a chess game that suddenly becomes a battle plan, a silent woman with heightened sight and hearing, and a rumbustious zen archer” (Time Out London).
Following up on the previous report regarding the latest concept image for director Derek Yee‘s new film, The Sword Master, Yee recently took to social media to set the record straight regarding some reported backlash over the casting of his new film. The film was finally announced last year with film auteur Tsui Hark attached as producer for a 3D rendering of the Shaw Brothers remake based on a classic novel that inspired the 1977 film, Death Duel.
“If a collaboration between Tsui Hark and I still need big stars to get you to waste your time and spend your money on a ticket, then we might as well pack up, go home, drink whiskey and shoot the breeze,” Yee posted on his Sina Weibo account. “It doesn’t matter who’s acting in the film. Tsui Hark and I are the top stars of the film!”.
Written by Yee and Hark with co-scribe Chun Tin-Nam, The Sword Master just began principal photography with 26-year old actor Kenny Lin (a.k.a. Lin Gengxin pictured left) as Third Master Ah Chi, the role that launched Yee‘s career as an actor at the time; Lin also had a small role in Hark‘s late 2013 flick, Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon. Also joining the cast are The Monkey King co-star Peter Ho reviving actor Yun Ling’s former role as Ah Chi’s nemesis, Yan Shisan; Actresses Jiang Yiyan and Jiang Mengjie round out the cast so far listed.
Personally, I never saw Young Detective Dee, but I certainly know who Hark and Yee are, and in that sense, I can certainly respect what Yee is saying with regard to his casting choices for this film. However, it is arguable that casting, in fact, does matter. Recent events that best exemplify this is the upcoming remake of The Raid under The Expendables 3 helmer Patrick Hughes, who is keeping names tightly under wraps but has already announced a six-month training regimen for a handful of actors involved. And people are extremely curious as to who is going to be cast to do that particular film justice.
However, curiousity may not be too much of an issue here for The Sword Master as we now know who will be cast. So while some speculation can be put to rest, what also matters is how Lin will deliver the iconic character from its 1977 predecessor for a modern day audience. Nonetheless, Yee‘s been after this remake for well over a decade now. That’s how much he loves this project, so I look forward to seeing how he applies his vision for the film when it comes out next year.
Lin will also be appearing in Hark‘s new film, The Taking Of Tiger Mountain later this year, as well as Tsai Yueh-Hsun’s upcoming action thriller sequel, Black & White 2: The Dawn Of Justice.
Stay tuned for more info.
QUESTION: What do you think of Yee’s statements? Leave a comment below or post to us on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #SwordMaster3D.
H/T: FilmBizAsia, IGN