Wow! Now this is what I like to see from an Indie Swordplay! Garish costumes, cackling white haired foxes and gorgeous sets that easily rival that of the Shaw Brothers’. ‘Dream Sword’ is similar in many ways to ‘My Blade, My Life’ (which followed 3 years later) and those that enjoyed that masterpiece will definitely find lots to admire here. Firstly, much of the cast is identical between films, with Yueh Hua, Tsung Hua and Lung Fei taking centre stage in this one. ‘My Blade My Life’ uses the same musical cues as ‘Dream Sword’ and also boasts very similar colourful and splendidly designed sets…in fact I’m almost positive that some of them are the same locations…structure wise the films bear a close relation too – especially in the way that the multitude of characters are introduced and then swiftly killed off.
The story unfolds at a rapid pace and the sheer volume of twists and turns in the plot can leave the mind boggling so I will try and sum up the story as briefly as possible.
“Dream Sword” is a trio lead by Hsia Shang Chou (Tsung Hua) a scholar and painter who draws kung fu forms. He is joined by his brave and loyal axe-wielding sidekick Fan Chin (Lung Fei) and the wise and highly skilled Swordsman Li (Yueh Hua).
A feud between the “Dream Sword” and members of the ‘First Manor Under Heaven’ escalates which results in several members of the ‘Manor’ being killed. The leader of the ‘First Manor Under Heaven’ is an old fox called Hsiang Chih Chi. He, together with 5 other leaders, make up the ‘Six Powers’, who are the heads of their respective territories.
-Chief Wan (played by Tien Yeh) who tries to avoid any confrontations after the death of his wife and children.
-Chief Lu Pa Tien (played by Wen Chiang Long) brave, young and rash.
-Chief Tang (played by Wang Hsieh) a bad tempered old fox who has the largest number of fighters of the 6 territories.
-Chief Tzu (played by Nora Miao) the elected head of the Powers, who is also known as the ‘Flower Maiden’. She is the most powerful.
-And finally Chief Ao Hsiao who is thought to be deceased.
The ‘Powers’ initially decide to join forces and pool all their resources to defeat the “Dream Sword” but slowly, the disruption starts to cause friction inside the various factions leading to a huge shuffle of power amidst a myriad of double crosses and back stabbings. Can our three ‘Dream Sword’ heroes manage the seemingly impossible task of overthrowing the ‘Six Powers’? And also, just what is the story behind Chief Ao Hsiao’s mysterious death?...
‘Dream Sword’ is a great film and just looking at that cast you know you’re in for a real treat. The three members of the ‘Dream Sword’ make a formidable team but it’s Lung Fei who really made me sit up – he is on fire in this film! His role reminds me of Fan Mei Sheng’s in ‘Water Margin’ & ‘All Men Are Brothers’ with that ‘hungry for action’, ‘nothing is impossible’ type of attitude. He reels off some impressive moves with his axe and even finds time for a spot of embarrassing dancing with some pretty young ladies.
White Haired Fox fans like myself will be as happy as a pig in poo as this film boasts not one, not two but…4 foxes! Wang Hsieh looks the best but the others do a great job of the limited screen time that they are given.
Out of the ladies, it’s Nora Miao that you should watch for as the sweet but deadly head of the ‘Six Powers’ – I especially liked her bouquet that she always carries around that fires deadly, exploding flowers!.
The rest of the cast have parts of varying sizes – for example, Kong Ming plays the ineffectual son of Chief Tang, who is to get married to Yun Yun (Doris Chen) who is Tsung Hua’s fiancée who…sigh…told you it was confusing!.
Ultimately, what we have here is a fantastic looking swordplay with an absolutely stellar cast of players and almost non stop action. It’s very simple – if you liked ‘My Blade My Life’ then you should definitely put this at the top of your wants list. Highly recommended.