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The Swordsman (aka Geomgaek, 2020)


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Swordsman (aka Geomgaek) is an upcoming 2018 South Korean movie - "action historical drama... focused around a Ming Dynasty swordsman and his daughter.  It will take place during the Ming Dynasty's decline, when power was being taken from the Han people by the Qing Empire.  Meanwhile, the swordsmen who stood against confusing state of affairs, confronted with the chaos brought about by the Ming-Qing transition."  It is directed by first-time movie director Choi Jae-hoon.  Cast includes Jang Hyuk (Ordinary Person), Jung Man-sik (Asura: The City of Madness), Joe Taslim (Fast & Furious 6), Choi Jin-ho (I Saw the  Devil), Kim Hyeon-soo (Murderer), Jang Hyun-sung (The Advocate: A Missing Body), and Lee Min-hyuk.  The news is from Wikipedia, IMDB, and https://www.saruaso.com/movie/2018_korean-films/193

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Didn't really feel the trailer to be honest. But now after watching it I gotta admit it's a great swords flick! Everything is kept to a bare minimum in terms of story. However that's not a bad thing. What makes this movie stand out are its actors and the action. Lead by an extremely charismatic and bad ass Jang Hyuk*. I got goosebumps one time when he unleashed his sword. The simple soundtrack also beautifully compliments those scenes of bad assery (that a word!?). Joe Taslim as the main villain is pretty bland. As he spends most of the movie just giving a evil smirk before getting his comeuppance. As a supporting actor we get Jeong Man Shik who while not in too many scenes does an excellent job as well. Overall I've thoroughly enjoyed the movie. One last thing without giving away too much there's one female character who at least to me seems so out of place and has like one line; actually one word for the entirety of the movie. I don't know what the hell she was doing in there :yociexp100:

*I'm curious if anyone can confirm whether or not he did all of the stunts by himself.

Think this wikipedia page entry answers that

Quote

Jang has practiced Jeet Kune Do for more than 10 years and is a former professional Taekwondo athlete

 

Edited by laagi
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One Armed Boxer
On 11/25/2020 at 11:49 PM, laagi said:

But now after watching it I gotta admit it's a great swords flick!

Agreed! This was thoroughly entertaining, just the right balance of story vs action. I gave it the full review treatment over at COF. Check it out below - 

https://cityonfire.com/the-swordsman-2020-review-korean-jang-hyuk-joe-taslim/

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One Armed Boxer

Joe Taslim briefly discusses the final fight scene against Jang Hyuk in Scott Adkins' Art of Action series. Just a warning that the discussion does contain clips from the fight, so if you want to go into it spoiler free, hold off on watching until you've checked it out!

https://youtu.be/M0-rifNpTkI?t=2852

 

 

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initially I was not crazy about the format of the shots: it seemed very televised. that feeling remains but is condensed by good fights: some brilliant and others not. conventional story and characters that refer to many films with similar stories. The final fight with Joe Taslim was disappointing.

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Just watched The Swordsman, an excellent new Korean action drama starring Jang Hyuk and Joe Taslim.

Superbly staged fight scenes, but a real study of the characters, make this the best I have seen from Korea for a while.

Joe Taslim oozes evil as the main villain of the story, and the choreography is top-notch.

Check it out, totally recommended.(out in the UK on DVD and Blu-ray by Cine Asia and USA by Well Go)

THE SWORDSMAN-.jpg

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For me, this one missed the mark. The whole thing reeks of being made by a first time director since it’s terribly paced and actually pretty boring for the first hour. Some will call it a “character study.” I call it shoddy film making.

The action sequences are an absolute delight and I think that’s what the movie should have focused on. It needed to be an action movie rather than an action drama since the drama didn’t work. The fights, however, are beautifully staged, choreographed and shot. They’re a real treat. I love how the lead character moves. He rolls, punches, stabs and slashes. It’s awesome.

Excellent fights don’t necessarily make a good movie though. I wanted to love this one but it just didn’t do it for me. The action is worth a watch on YouTube but it fails in so many other aspects. Maybe it needs repeated viewings? I hope so.

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KUNG FU BOB

I was surprised this film had received so much praise as I watched it. IMO it's decent, but far from great. The excellent sets and costuming transport you to another era, but then the lead, Jang Hyuk as a swordsman with faltering eyesight, felt completely modern to me. He also just didn't seem right for the character, and his "cool musician" hairstyle was constantly distracting. The action had its moments, but I couldn't help frequently thinking of Zatoichi, and how much better every one of the films in that series is than this. As soon as it ended I grabbed my Criterion Zatoichi collection off the shelf to remedy my much-needed action fix.

My son saw THE KILLER with Jang Hyuk and said it's good and that I'll like it. I'm glad he's playing a modern-day role in it. :angel

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Super Ninja
On 8/14/2022 at 1:26 AM, KUNG FU BOB said:

I was surprised this film had received so much praise as I watched it. IMO it's decent, but far from great. The excellent sets and costuming transport you to another era, but then the lead, Jang Hyuk as a swordsman with faltering eyesight, felt completely modern to me. He also just didn't seem right for the character, and his "cool musician" hairstyle was constantly distracting. The action had its moments, but I couldn't help frequently thinking of Zatoichi, and how much better every one of the films in that series is than this. As soon as it ended I grabbed my Criterion Zatoichi collection off the shelf to remedy my much-needed action fix.

My son saw THE KILLER with Jang Hyuk and said it's good and that I'll like it. I'm glad he's playing a modern-day role in it. :angel

For me the main takeaway here was that with The Swordsman we finally got a Korean movie with Korean action. Sure, Korea has its own brand of cinematic martial arts action, but not when it comes to swordplay films. So hopefully, this is the first of many. 

As for the movie itself, I throughly enjoyed it and never regretted getting the Blu-ray. Actually, I've been feeling a need to rewatch The Swordsman for a while, might do it these days. 

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TibetanWhiteCrane
11 hours ago, Super Ninja said:

Sure, Korea has its own brand of cinematic martial arts action, but not when it comes to swordplay films. So hopefully, this is the first of many. 

Whaaaa??? I mean I'm far from an expert on Korean cinema, but what about all those swordplay flicks from the naughts? I seem to remember a lot of them getting western releases. Bichunmoo, Shadowless Sword, Sword in the Moon, The Duelist. I don't remember them in great detail, but I seem to recall them having decent swordplay action. 

Or am I missing your meaning here?

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9 minutes ago, TibetanWhiteCrane said:

Bichunmoo, Shadowless Sword, Sword in the Moon

Those were good swordplay films, but were choreographed by HK veterans. Those first two, choreographed by Ma Yuk-Sing, really felt like Butterfly and SwordSword in the Moon was choreographed by Yuen Bun. I think he meant that the Koreans did their own thing with The Swordsman.

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TibetanWhiteCrane
1 hour ago, DrNgor said:

Those were good swordplay films, but were choreographed by HK veterans. Those first two, choreographed by Ma Yuk-Sing, really felt like Butterfly and SwordSword in the Moon was choreographed by Yuen Bun. I think he meant that the Koreans did their own thing with The Swordsman.

Ah, ok. Yeah, barely remember them. 

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Super Ninja
15 hours ago, TibetanWhiteCrane said:

Whaaaa??? I mean I'm far from an expert on Korean cinema, but what about all those swordplay flicks from the naughts? I seem to remember a lot of them getting western releases. Bichunmoo, Shadowless Sword, Sword in the Moon, The Duelist. I don't remember them in great detail, but I seem to recall them having decent swordplay action. 

Or am I missing your meaning here?

 

14 hours ago, DrNgor said:

I think he meant that the Koreans did their own thing with The Swordsman.

Exactly. I wouldn't dare call myself an expert on Korean cinema either, but Korean swordplay movies of the naughts were largely pretty light on the action and in most cases it was the kind of action I'd barely call decent. More importantly, Koreans didn't have a distinctive, recognizable style they could call their own, their focus was never on the action really. Even years later, with movies such as Memories of the Sword (2015), Koreans were making interesting, stylish movies that I'd never recommend based on the strength or abundance of their action.

Then, you have the ones where the action was handled by the HK action directors who brought their own recognizable flavour. I'm aware of the importance of Bichunmoo, but I wasn't impressed. Ma Yuk-Sing certainly did a better job with Shadowless Sword which is the best of the bunch when it comes to action. But that's Hong Kong action in Korean films.

While the action in The Swordsman was obviously influenced by Tanigaki's work on the Kenshin movies, Koreans created the sort of action they can call their own. In that regard, I see The Swordsman as the first of hopefully many to come. Perhaps @One Armed Boxer can share his expertise on the subject and prove me right or wrong?

 

 

 

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One Armed Boxer
On 8/19/2022 at 6:19 PM, Super Ninja said:

Perhaps @One Armed Boxer can share his expertise on the subject and prove me right or wrong?

Not every Korean swordplay flick after the millennium relied on Hong Kong stylings, although certainly the best of them did. 2010's 'Blades of Blood' is a good example of a movie free of the HK influence, offering up a Zatoichi styled character with a Korean flavour. However Korea has dabbled in swordplay long before, off the top of my head I can think of 1969's 'Armless Swordsman', and just like it's southerly neighbours Hong Kong and Taiwan, it's a genre that's fallen in and out of popularity over the years. 

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