Great things were expected of Seven Swords: revered source material (the much-loved Liang Yu-Sheng wushu novel), a once-
great director (Tsui Hark), and an impressive ensemble cast including Donnie Yen and Leon Lai. But this potentially epic tale of 17th century swordsmanship and chivalry, in which a rag-tag band of warriors fight back against an oppressive regime, fails to impress.
The action is thin on the ground and sloppily edited, the narrative rambling and the characterisation non-existent. The film’s natural aesthetic is impressive in a National Geographic sense, but the scales of the scenery and of the action are desperately mismatched — like watching Punch & Judy at Wembley. If the intention was to retake ownership of a sub-genre hijacked by Western sensibilities, that’s laudable; but it doesn’t make it a good film.