Add a Review

  • "Sentimental Swordsman" epitomizes the film era of Later Old School, which were martial arts films that came out later 70s and early 80s. They bridge the gap between the early 70s chop socky fests and the New Wave wire-flyers of Tsui Hark, et al. LOS works tended to have more lavish budgets than Early Old School, firmly established stars and directors entering their prime, and much more complex plots.

    The story begins with a nobleman in exile, with his trusty sidekick in tow, walking through a melancholy snowy landscape. He is returning home to protect a woman he reluctantly left to protect her from the elusive Plum Blossom Bandit. Through a series of betrayals, he is accused of being the villain in question. He spends a good deal of the film protesting his innocence, with words and fists. It was a fantastic performance by Shaw Brothers legend Ti Lung. Another standout performance is Derek Yee (Er Tung-sheng), who plays Ti Lung's comrade-in-arms. He's another wandering sword-for-hire who doesn't suffer fools gladly, but repays respect with loyalty. The film features beautiful cinematography, including one lovingly shot scene of a fight in a plum blossom garden. Sentimental Swordsman is a solid sword flick, and one of director Chu Yuan's better efforts.

    There are the inevitable cheeseball elements, such as the Plum Blossom Bandit's pink ninja outfit and the rather dubious martial art of snake hurling, but hey, this is Shaw Brothers. Fans of the genre will find it only adds to its appeal.

    A worthy addition to your Kung Fu library.
  • Chin Huan (Ti Lung) returns home to his brother after 10 years to defend his family against the mysterious Plum Blossom bandit whose identity is unknown. On his way, he becomes a friend of Ah Fei (Derek Yee); they both have a strong sense of honor and mutual respect for each other. When the local people suspect that Chin Huan himself could be the Plum Blossom bandit, because he is such a skilled fighter, Ah Fei defends him. Together they try to find the actual bandit.

    This is a colorful and entertaining movie, well directed, and - quite rare - staged in a snowy landscape. Even the smaller characters, for example the drunken doctor, the Shaolin abbot and the master of poisons, are always interesting. Also the story has the unusual twist that the hero is fought most of the time by the good guys, as they mistake him for the villain, so instead of killing everyone, he often tries to avoid fights. Recommended!
  • Yuen Chor is one of the lesser known Shaw kung fu directors, he also is one of the more prolific directors with over 120 films in a 36 year career. With the re-release of the Shaw library on DVD several reasons for his obscurity become clear. One, his films have some of the best art direction you can find in the kung-fu films of this era. Two, the films are always framed for full Shaw Scope wide screen. Three, he fills his films with lots of colorful characters. When these films were put on TV, most of the visuals were ruined and it's really hard for a non-Chinese audience to keep up with the parade of characters especially with bad dubbing.

    This film contains a large number of main characters, about a dozen, although most of the film revolves around the hero played by Ti Lung. These characters keep returning to say something or advance the plot. That alone makes the film hard to watch. A Yuen Chor film where this isn't problem is the Magic Blade which has a similar number of characters but most show up for a scene and leave. The twists and turns of the plot just add to the mental exhaustion if you are not ready for it.

    The pace of the film is good with a number of well choreographed fight scenes. There are some crazy super-human kung fu stunts. The film looks great and the actors all do their good usual work.
  • Another great film by Shaw brothers, I would have actually given this movie 10 stars, but, some of the translations into English were off, and detracted from the story.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN is chock full of intrigue, with Ti Lung as Li being accused of killing at least one relative of most of the characters he meets in the movie. There are several attempts to frame him for yet other murders, but, with the aid of Derek Yee (who, incidentally, makes an excellent sidekick and who dispenses with more than a few of Li's would-be killers), things are set to right. Says Yee at one point: "The one with the quickest sword is boss." The seemingly never-ending backstabbing (and would-be backstabbing) wears on Li. At one point, he offers up his opinion on the whole affair: "We all want to make our own web and live in it. Then we're trapped in it." Although I must confess I figured out who was behind everything fairly early on in the proceedings, THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN is a plot-heavy who-done-it-and-why well worth the time. Li at one point taunts a would-be killer: "I killed your brother? Tell me what he looks like so I can say hello to him when I get to Hell." Sarcastic, as well as sentimental.

    THE RETURN OF THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN: You can take the martial artist out of The Martial Arts World, but you can't take the martial art out of the martial artist. Feeling guilty about killing The Plum Blossom Bandit, Li (Ti Lung) is in the process of drinking himself into oblivion when he's drawn back into the Martial Arts World. Along the way, he encounters a wide variety of characters, including Hu (Lo Lieh), who trafficks in human beings; Ah Fei (who had actually softened up the Plum Blossom Bandit for Li, though Li never knew it), whose adulterous wife has driven HIM to drink; Ku Feng as the unscrupulous head of The Money Clan (who disowns his own son the moment he's killed, saying: "He no longer bleeds my blood."), who has taken up with Ah Fei's old lady; and Jing (Fu Sheng), The Left-handed Gun- er, Dagger- whose right arm he keeps covered because it's covered with the names of those he's slain ("Only the dead know that secret."). There's also The Silver Halberd, who literally walks away from the Martial Arts World at one point, walking in slow motion into the mist. Like Doc Holiday, Li's suffering from "consumption" (he coughs up blood). (In CLANS OF INTRIGUE, his character has a nasal blockage that literally saves his life when gas is used on him. These types of infirmities aren't at all usual for martial arts heroes.) THE RETURN OF THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN is another of those must-see movies that fans of the genre look for: it's all about the martial arts and boasts interesting characters and some well-integrated fights.
  • I appreciate the effort to include a complex story along with great Martial Arts, so the genre doesn't appear as meat-headed as many other films make it seem, but it truly fails to deliver here.

    "Sentimental Swordsman" is another Gu Long novel-to-film adaptation, with Ti Lung playing Li Chin-Huan, a very solemn character with interesting skills and weapon choice. An added appeal to this film is that it weaves in some other characters that appear in related films, specifically Ai Fei, played by Derek Yee, who's older self appears in "Pursuit of Vengeance", referencing Li Chin-Huan as he meets one of his future students. Ti Lung also stars in that film, but obviously as another character.

    The film's story is supposed to spell out one of distress for our hero Li Chin-Huan, as he is framed as the very person he intends to kill, the Plum Blossom Bandit. But following this story's logic through all the twists and turns will not lead you to a satisfying end. In return, my favorite fighting moments were definitely the ones where

    1) the real Plum Blossom Bandit meets Ai Fei 2) Ai Fei vs. Mr. Iron Pipe 3) The Final Duel, where I was very impressed with Ti Lung's stunt performance, and the overall swordsmanship and intelligence from the choreographers.

    If you don't mind skipping ahead if you get bored, you may be able to salvage something from this film. I also hear the sequel is far better.
  • dafrosts19 February 2018
    Warning: Spoilers
    I watched this trilogy out of order. I saw #2 then #3 then this one. Whomever describe Chin Huan as having an Oedipus complex clearly doesn't understand the definition. What he does possess is the knack for trusting the wrong people an doing some incredibly stupid things to repay a false debt.

    Chin Huan returns to town to reveal the identity of the Plum Blossom Bandit. He soon finds himself facing one assassination attempt after another with no clear logic behind the attacks on his life.

    There's a mystery to solve and Chin Huan is just the man for it. He has to face the woman he gave up 10 years ago as part of repayment of a debt to a man be believed saved his life. It turns out that was a complete lie and Chin Huan screwed up his own life for no reason.

    There are fights galore in this movie. They are well choreographed. All lead up to Chin Huan losing the woman he loves and having to face the truth of the Plum Blossom Bandits identity.

    Several Shaw Brothers familiars make this movie even more enjoyable. The final duel between Chin Huan and the Plum Blossom Bandit involves the use of nature as a weapon.

    Seeing the final scene of Ah Fei and Chin Huan going their separate ways makes me sad, because I've already seen Return of the Sentimental Swordsman, so I know things aren't going to be all sunshine and Plum Blossoms for Ah Fei when Chin Huan returns.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I see that THE SENTIMENTAL SWORDSMAN has garnered quite a few negative reviews on this site and I'd balance that negativity somewhat. This is a fast-paced and colourful Shaw Brothers swordplay romp which places a far greater emphasis on plotting than in a rival Chang Cheh film, for instance. Ti Lung stars as the alcoholic hero who finds himself involved in a hunt for the 'Pink Blossom Bandit' and whose journey leads him to a situation in which he himself becomes the main suspect.

    This is a dense and complex story which requires close attention throughout. The reason for that is that there's a massive supporting cast all of whom have plenty of screen time. A cast of wandering swordsmen, beautiful femme fatales, Shaolin monks, local lords, and martial arts masters fill the screen in their colourful costumes and take time out to engage in a lot of athletic swordplay at every opportunity.

    Lung does well in a balanced role that requires more mannered acting than usual. He's given fine support from his cast members which include cameo villain parts for the likes of Fung Hark-On and Yuen Wah. Yee Tung-Shing is very good as the wandering swordsman figure. The plot becomes more engaging as the running time progresses and the climax doesn't disappoint after the careful build-up. Two sequels, RETURN OF and PERILS OF, followed.
  • during shaw brothers in hong kong dominated the Chinese wuxia (martial arts/swordsmanship) genre, most of the films were shot inside of its gigantic studio with all the phony or fake props and scenes. it did not like what the Japanese samurai films that mainly used open-air natural surroundings to make their films more realistic, the studio arrangements were just when they were necessary. shaw brothers' studio just rigidly used the studio to shoot almost all of their films in this genre with fake silk flowers, dead trees, fake houses facades and etc. to do the shooting in order to avoid any unpredictable weather conditions in the south east asia. but this never changed shooting format also inevitably reduced those films' value so low that most of such films simply looked so unreal and so pretentious. during that era, most of the screenplays were adapted from the popular Chinese wuxia (martial arts) novels written by some of the popular writers from taiwan while china at that time was in the turmoil cultural revolution. but the adapted scripts were just way too pretentious with stupid dialog that never felt natural but strongly staged like Shakespearean dramas. one the famous directors in this genre was chu yuen, who used most of the novels written by gu long, a wuxia writer who was so famous in writing the most pretentious dialog and scenarios just like the staged plays. chu shot all such films in the studio with artificial lighting and fake props. all the fighting scenes either with fists or swords or any kind of weapons were heavily rehearsed and synchronized with man made sound effects. since they were shot in the studio, the lighting arranged from different angles also inevitably cast lot of different shadows on the fake ground or floors, actors usually would have so many shadows in different shades following them around. the synchronized fighting scenes with awkward sound effects, including the moronic ho hung from the never perfected dubbed voice-over to match their fake fightings simply further reduced their real values in movie making.

    you have to watch the Japanese samurai movies to compare with the Chinese wuxia movies to know what were not correctly done by shaw brothers and their directors. because every scene, every spoken word of the dialog, even the moon in the night sky, just looked so fake. you have to force yourself to watch these movies as watching plays performed on the stage just like watch Chinese bejing operas.

    this film was a horrible viewing experience, so pretentious and so fake in every way you could imagine.
  • The opening scene is like the opening scene of "Pursuit of Vengeance." Enter Ti Lung as Li Chin Huan and Fan Mei-Sheng as his assistant Chuan Jia. Ti Lung carves a doll and buries it in the snow. The back story is ten years ago he gave up his fortune and his woman to a man who saved his life. Next they encounter a man walking. Then at the tea house "Black and White Snake" attack an escort company. The man walking kills them and joins Ti Lung. They go off to the woods to drink and talk. Attack! Everyone is after the package – an armor useful against the Plum Blossom Bandit.

    Yes there is too much going on in the movie and it is hard to follow. I thought the Plum Blossom Bandit's choice of colors annoying and now I call him the "Pepto-Bismol Bandit". I did find very fun the scene where all were starving but feared poison in all the available food.

    This movie may have had a landmark first. At about 1:24:45 there is a physical, not a special effects, wipe. The actress goes behind a wall as the camera tracks to the right then the stuntman comes out from behind the wall and does the acrobatics all dressed as the actress. Was this the first time this effect was ever done? I'm surprised it was not done more often but maybe it was and I am just now noticing.