HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Dark Phoenix
No Mercy
Arctic
Fate of Lee Khan, The
El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie
Ladyworld
Rocketman
Kid Who Would Be King, The
Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound
America America
Darkest Minds, The
Along Came Jones
Hummingbird Project, The
Under the Table You Must Go
Harry Birrell Presents Films of Love and War
Hanging Tree, The
Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Scooby-Doo! Camp Scare
Itsy Bitsy
Witchmaker, The
Prey, The
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium
Happy Death Day 2U
Full Moon High
Strange But True
Kamikaze 1989
Never Grow Old
Time of Your Life, The
Mountain Men, The
Epic
Best Before Death
John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum
Isabelle
Non-Stop New York
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood
Oblomov
Alita: Battle Angel
We the Animals
Ibiza Undead
Wings of Eagles, The
   
 
Newest Articles
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
Shit-Eating Grim: Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom on Blu-ray
Stallone's 80s Action Alpha and Omega: Nighthawks and Lock Up
Python Prehistory: At Last the 1948 Show and Do Not Adjust Your Set on DVD
You Could Grow to Love This Place: Local Hero on Blu-ray
Anglo-American: Joseph Losey Blu-ray Double Bill - The Criminal and The Go-Between
Marvel's Least Loved and Most Loved: Fantastic 4 vs Avengers: Endgame
Battle of the Skeksis: The Dark Crystal Now and Then
American Madness: Sam Fuller's Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss on Blu-ray
Flight of the Navigator and the 80s Futurekids
Trains and Training: The British Transport Films Collection Volume 13 on DVD
Holiday from Hell: In Bruges on Blu-ray
The Comedy Stylings of Kurt Russell: Used Cars and Captain Ron
Robot Rocked: The Avengers Cybernauts Trilogy on Blu-ray
Hammer's Bloodthirsty Bad Girls 1970: Lust for a Vampire and Countess Dracula
Hammer to Fall: Kiss Me Deadly on Blu-ray
Home of the Grave: The House That Dripped Blood and Asylum on Blu-ray
Wondrous Women: Supergirl vs Captain Marvel
   
 
  Bastard Swordsman Spins a web any sizeBuy this film here.
Year: 1983
Director: Lu Chin Ku
Stars: Norman Tsui Siu-Keung, Leanne Lau Suet-Wa, Liu Yung, Wong Yung, Alex Man Chi-Leung, Yeung Jing-Jing, Chan Si-Gaai, Goo Goon-Chung, Lo Meng, Kwan Fung, Yuen Qiu, Yuen Tak, Wong Lik, Wilson Tong Wai-Shun, Lau Siu-Gwan, Sun Chien, Tong Chun-Chung, Siao Yuk
Genre: Martial Arts, Weirdo, Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 1 vote)
Review: Poor Yan Fei Yang (Norman Tsui Siu-Keung) is a pitiful orphan cruelly used as a human target by the more capable students at the Wu Tang Martial Arts school. The school’s finest fighter, beautiful Lun Wan Er (Leanne Lau Suet-Wa) does her best to defend him but is scolded by the haughty Wu Tang Elders. Every night however, a mysterious masked man teaches Yang kung fu and the unloved “bastard” secretly becomes a martial arts master. A bitter rivalry exists between Wu Tang and the Invincible Clan led by swaggering Chief Dugu Wu Di (Alex Man Chi-Leung), who beats Wu Tang Chief Qing Song (Wong Yung) every year but fears one of his enemies may someday master the legendary “Silkworm Technique.”

Before Chief Dugu leaves for a two-year sabbatical he instructs his scowling son Kung Suen Wang (Lo Meng) and plucky daughter Fang Er (Yeung Jing-Jing) not to press their advantage over Wu Tang, as a matter of honour. However, Chief Qing is ambushed at his local tavern by a crazy-haired quartet of elemental assassins: Wind (Yuen Tak), Thunder (Wong Lik), Rain (Yuen Qiu), and Lightning (Kwan Fung). He is rescued by dashing swordsman Fu Yu Shu (Liu Yung), who tragically loses his mother and sister in the attack. Invited to stay at Wu Tang, Fu ingratiates himself with the elders while Lun Wan Er is equally smitten with the handsome stranger, much to lovelorn Yang’s misery. After the Invincible Clan deny any involvement in the assassination attempt, Yang kindly helps Fang Er and her brother escape the vengeful Wu Tang, earning her admiration. When a second attack claims Chief Qing’s life, Yang stands falsely accused. On the run he meets Fang Er and they discover their long-lost mother Shen Man Jiun (Chan Si-Gaai, looking way too young to be their mom, unless the filmmakers were going for a M.I.L.F. type deal) who reveals the real nature of their relationship and teaches Yang the Silkworm Technique.

1983 was the last truly vintage year for the venerable Shaw Brothers studios who had only two years left before they ceased producing martial arts movies. While the majority of their classics stayed locked in a vault for twenty years, a number of titles made around this time remained fairly accessible on videotape and earned a large cult following. None more so than Bastard Swordsman (1983), commonly regarded as the finest wu xia fantasy of them all until Swordsman II: Invincible Asia (1992) came along. Its “downtrodden geek becomes web-spinning superhero” scenario shares certain similarities with Spider-Man - though the film was based on a pulp novel and adapted from a television series also starring Norman Tsui Siu-Keung - while certain elements later reappeared in John Carpenter’s cult classic Big Trouble in Little China (1986), such as the elemental themed magical warriors and Taoist sorcerers duelling with energy beams.

Gravity-defying swordplay reaches an outlandish high in the hands of madcap director Lu Chin Ku. Martial arts mix with calligraphy, philosophy and surreal Georges Meliés style stop-motion and optical effects to create a trippy, abstract world full of painted backdrops bathed in kaleidoscopic lighting. Anything can happen and usually does. Characters hang upside down like bats, spin through the air, levitate furniture and animate leaves as deadly weapons. Even more outrageous, Shen Man Jiun teaches Yan how to weave himself into a giant cocoon from which he eventually emerges as a silver-haired superhero able to shoot silken threads and zap enemies with laser beams. The jaw-dropping climax features a duel inside the cocoon from which the loser is ejected as an acid-bleached skeleton!

Woven amidst all this candy-coloured madness are a number of surprisingly subversive aspects. Interestingly, where early Jackie Chan films stress blind obedience to elders no matter how cruel they may be, Bastard Swordsman is very critical of the overbearing, hypocritical oafs who make Yan’s life a living hell and fuel a pointless feud between Wu Tang and the Invincible Clan. By movie’s end, the surviving heroes turn their backs on the lot of them. By far the most sensible characters are the women, who manage to cooperate despite their differing backgrounds, though they pool their resources through the rejuvenated Yan instead of taking action themselves. Norman Tsui Siu-Keung was a fixture of the wu xia genre, from Shaw Brothers classics like Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre (1978) to the groundbreaking New Wave effort Duel to the Death (1981), though he would often pop up in oddities like The Mighty Peking Man (1977) and We’re Going To Eat You (1980). Since Bastard Swordsman concludes with a handful of loose ends needing to be tied he returned in (what else?) Return of Bastard Swordsman (1984).

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 4616 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: