Swordsman 2 笑傲江湖之東方不敗 (1992) – Hong Kong
Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)
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With the famed cast and crew comprising of Jet Li, Brigette Lin, Rosamund Kwan and Michelle Reis with Tsui Hark and Ching Siu Tung as producer and director respectively. They were all at their height of their cinematic powers. “Swordsman 2” is the 2nd film of the highly underrated trilogy where only this one gets most of the credit. The film is extremely entertaining, processes a deeper storyline, interactions with people and most important of all creating that ultimate iconic character for the one and only Brigette Lin.
The film also allows an early Jet Li to weave out of his usual martial arts comfort zone in being more of a comic and sophisticated character where he more than holds his own against the might of Brigette Lin. Michelle Reis plays the sidekick and love interest, while Rosamund Kwan is given an interesting as the highlander chef who is torn between the conflicts of the world and her love for Ling (played by Li). Perhaps the most fascinating storyline goes to Lin and Li and the two interplays each other in both complicated and subtle fashion. The fact that Lin is an expert in playing with genderless roles, makes her a wonderful “East of Asia”. The character itself will later get top billing in the third film of the trilogy.
All in all, there is really a lot to enjoy and like about “Swordsman 2” and as part of that golden period of wuxia films, this one is really right up the alleyway. Jet Li in particular shines as the proud and wandering swordsman with a moral code and Brigette Lin is almost legendary in this famed role as the most feared in Asia. The film stands as a revolutionary as it touches on gender roles, sexuality, morality and humanity at its core. After all, as Li would say in the film “if there is humans, there will always be trouble, how can one truly retreat from the world”. This is a timeless classic wuxia affair.
I rated it 9/10
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