The legend of the lone swordsman has etched itself into both history and popular culture within Japan. Today, this motif still fills the pages of Manga, occupies myriad television series (both animated and live action) and of course regular features on cinema screens. Indeed, some of the most memorable depictions have come in motion pictures. The likes of Lone Cub and Wolf, Zatoichi and the Hiroshi Inagaki’s Samurai Trilogy are habitual favourites. Whilst The Swordsman doesn’t quite reach those heights, it’s another entertaining addition to the sub-genre.
After being partially blinded defending his king from a coup attempt, a legendary Joseon swordsman Tae-yu (Jang Hyuk) retires from the public eye to live a quiet and peaceful life with his daughter (Hyeon-soo Kim). However, as his eyesight deteriorates, she becomes desperate to find a cure for him. This brings the pair into contact with modern court intrigue. When she’s kidnapped by a slaver (Joe Taslim), he must fight to get her back.
The Swordsman is a classic tale of a man having to face the demons of his past in order to save the one he loves. It’s beautifully made, with great attention to period details. The fighting is also expertly coordinated which makes it feel exhilaratingly real while still absolutely thrilling. However, the major strength of Jae-Hoon Choi’s film is the story, which is both straightforward and compelling. The Swordsman is an engaging and highly enjoyable.
The Swordsman is released on DVD and Digital on 17 May and on Blu-ray on 24 May by Trinity CineAsia.