Tuesday, February 16, 2021

The Swordsman Review: An Understated and Exciting Historical Slice of Life

Jang Hyuk	...	Tae-yul Man-sik Jeong	Man-sik Jeong	...	Min Seung-ho Rest of cast listed alphabetically: Angelina Danilova	Angelina Danilova	...	Westerner Hyun-Sung Jang	Hyun-Sung Jang	...	(as Hyeong-seong Jang) Seung-Hyeon Ji	Seung-Hyeon Ji	...	Inuchi Choi Jin-ho	Choi Jin-ho	...	Lee Mok-yo Hyeon-soo Kim	Hyeon-soo Kim	...	Tae-ok Min Hyuk Lee	Min Hyuk Lee	...	Gyeom Sa-bok Na-Kyung Lee	Na-Kyung Lee	...	Hwa Sun Jae-hwan Shin	Jae-hwan Shin	...	Reaper Joe Taslim	Joe Taslim	...	Gurutai

Release date: February 16, 2021 (Blu-Ray)
Running time: 100 minutes
Starring: Jang Hyuk (Empire of Lust), Kim Hyeon-soo (Be With You), Joe Taslim (The Raid: Redemption, Fast & Furious 6), Jeong Man-sik (Beasts Clawing at Straws), Lee Na-kyung (Battle for Incheon: Operation Chromite) and Lee Min-hyuk (A Love to Kill)
Written and Directed By: Choi Jae-hoon

After being blinded in a coup against the king, Joseon’s greatest swordsman (Jang Hyuk) goes into hiding, far removed from his city’s anguish. But when traffickers kidnap his daughter, he has no choice but to unsheathe his sword once more.

Directed by  Jae-Hoon Choi	Writing Credits (in alphabetical order)   Jae-Hoon Choi	   Produced by  Ahyoung Park	...	producerCinematography by  Won-ho Son	Visual Effects by  Jinhee Kim	...	visual effects producer Sung-min Alvin Yun	...	visual effects supervisor
The Swordsman is based on true historical events but the film is definitely a dramatization of them.  And that is not a bad thing as the movie is able to balance historical drama with exciting action sequences.  Those sequences have some minor effects to speed up the action and give the fighting more impact on screen.  Thankfully these effects are minor enhancements that don't go over the top. The Swordsman has well choreographed action and exciting fights, but you are not going to see fighters flying around and performing superhuman feats.  The action sequences, like this film, are generally well crafted and understated.  Similar to the main character, the action sequences are able to hold their own but they are not overly flashy.  In fact, the film overall has a nice, muted style that doesn't feel overdramatized.

And the characters are well cast and entertaining to follow.  Jang Hyuk as Tae-yul does a great job as the reluctant swordsman.  He is able to channel both a hesitance to fihgt but also an inner calm when called upon to do so.  And Joe Taslim is likewise entertaining and unpredictable as Gurutai, a rebellious leader who is challenging the established rulers in this region.  He is charismatic and scary, a great combination for a villain.  And these characters occupy a well crafted recreation of historical Korea with realistic sets and costumes.  The story of The Swordsman is a slow burning one that has a series of events building up to the action.  And ultimately, the reluctant hero fights his way to a fittingly exciting conclusion.

The Swordsman is an understated historical dramatization, with exciting but not over-the-top action sequences and a perfectly cast reluctant hero and charismatic villain.  

Watch it.

Korea Swordsman Fighter Samurai Ronin Hero History Historical Drama Dramatization Movies Moive
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The Swordsman is available physically, digitally, and on demand on February 16, 2021.

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