Let me start this review by saying this. Any hero that is unfortunate enough to have Joe Taslim as a villain in his movie should seek forgiveness.
The Swordsman is an epic Korean martial arts movie with almost 100% Korean cast. The story is quite straightforward and simple – at least, the core storyline. The synopsis is simple but also emotional. “A swordsman loses his sight as a consequence of saving his master’s daughter. After going blind, he raises her on his own while living a simple life in the mountains until fate deals a cruel blow as his violent past comes knocking”.
There’s a saying that the best movies are the simplest, and there’s a reason for that in the game of relatability. The Swordsman spends a great amount of time showing the bond between Tae-Yul, the Swordsman played by Hang Hyuk, and Tae-ok, his adopted daughter played by newcomer, Kim Hyun-soo.
One of the beauties of this movie is the performance of Hang Hyuk as the blind swordsman. It’s so believable that it’s almost impossible to believe he is the hero in the movie. Before the first fight, I thought he was going to die.
While this movie is a high-octane natal art movie at heart, it does touch on topics such as; love, family, loyalty, and duty. But none more than love and family.
The fight scenes are incredibly good, and the stunts and cinematography worked in tandem giving a sort of fight ballet. Every move is gracious and vicious. While we haven’t seen much from Hang Hyuk in the movie industry, his good performance in this movie will make you look out for him in future movie releases.
Now, we move to the one we know – a fast-rising action star that won my heart in several movies such as “The Night Comes For Us” and in the action Bruce lee series, “Warrior” – Joe Taslim. He’s mostly known for playing the good guy or a good-enough-but-bad-guy but what has made him a star is his incredible martial art skill, good looks, and great acting talent.
However, in this movie, he’s a full-on villain and he plays the role to worrisome perfection. He plays Gurutai, a political separatist with a plan to carry out a coup and take over the rulership of the country. Gurutai is a quiet, scheming, and menacing villain, which is a break from the regular scream fest we get from most movie villains.
The pacing of the movie is quite normal, though, the beginning is quite dull and unassuming, one might feel that this movie would be a snoozefest. But 20 to 30 minutes of watching it, that was when everything begins to pick up pace.
Written and directed by Jae-Hoon Choii, this movie will reignite your interest in martial arts movies and revenge/rescue stories.
WATCH TRAILER BELOW:
THE SWORDSMAN gets For strong performances, and over the top action.