For the first fifteen minutes of Slave of the
Sword one might easily be under the impression that they were watching
your basic traditional early-90ís wuxia Ė people floating in the air, a
symphony of clashing swords, bottles of spurting blood, heads being sent
off in different directions than the bodies, cold blooded assassins waiting
for their payment, an evil white-haired eunuch with a wicked laugh and
so on. Then suddenly you are faced with a naked female nipple being imbibed
upon by said assassin and not long afterwards Pauline Chan is unceremoniously
rolled out naked from a carpet to a room full of waiting courtesans who
inspect her body and pronounce it ready for consumption. Perhaps, this
isnít exactly your traditional wuxia.
But then this isnít your traditional director.
This is Chu Yen-ping, the mastermind behind such delights as Golden Queen
Commandos, Pink Force Commando, Seven Foxes and Fantasy Mission Force.
Chu Yen-ping is probably responsible for the acting nadir of more actors
than the plague Ė Brigitte Lin, Sally Yeh and Jackie Chan being the most
famous Ė but in truth even if they were forced to work for Chu due to pressure
brought on by scowling men with tattoos, arenít we rather glad they did?
His films are often such incompetent, incontinent messes that they are
sometimes glorious. Sadly, that isnít really the case here. The film almost
makes sense and that is usually a bad sign for Chuís films and it is lacking
in his typical excesses such as Brigitte Lin attaching a machine gun to
her amputated arm. That was a movie moment to cherish. Slave of the Sword
is more of a Freudian examination of children working out their desertion
anxieties as adults Ė with swords, poison, throttling and ripping out of
tongues. All covered in Psych 101.
Brother Yun (Jackson Lau) and Sister Hon (Joyce
Ngai) are paid assassins Ė give them payment and they will kill anyone
and bring back their head as proof. In their spare time they like to lick
each otherís wounds and other parts of each otherís anatomy. Their pay
master is Eunuch Li (Max Mok) who has a lot of enemies out there and wants
them all dead. One of them is the father of Wu Nien (Pauline Chan), who
puts on a nice dance show in taverns around the countryside at 7, 9 and
11 pm. Reservations not needed. Why the old father of a tavern entertainer
is killed is a mystery but it sets Wu Nien on a rapid descent into rags
and a dirty face Ė but then she is kidnapped and sold to the local Madam
Ė also our Sister Hon who is clearly a multi-tasker. The film quickly devolves
into a pale imitation of Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan as
Wu Nien goes from victim to victimizer as she cuddles up with Sister Hon
much to the displeasure of Sister Honís former lesbian lover. It is slowly
revealed that all the main characters are tied together by childhood and
all of them are still really pissed.
My rating for this film: 5.0