The Sword Of Many Loves (1993)

Directed by
Mad as a bag of poisonous spiders
Reviewed by Simon on 2013-02-17

Swordsman Wu Fei (Leon Lai) seeks to bring the villainous Fung family (led by Elvis Tsui) to justice, but gets caught up in a love triangle between the kung fu master Purple Yuen (Cheung Man) and the poison master Ching Ling (Michelle Reis). That's basically the plot, but this isn't really the sort of film a plot summary can do any adequate justice to. If I may defer to the Australian VHS sleeve instead:

"Where else but on Chinatown Video will you see a dwarf who burrows underground like a mole? Or a horse who does kung fu and talks like Mr. Ed? Only in The Sword Of Many Loves will you see a poison that makes you so tall you explode. Or a game of golf with a person's head!

,,, and that's really just scratching the surface of the kind of batshit insane happenings in the film. It's based on a Jin Yong novel that was also the source for the Shaw Brothers films Legend Of The Fox and New Tales Of The Flying Fox, and it's one of his more outrageous stories. Poisons are a central part of the film, with some splendidly creative effects. You also get Elvis Tsui in full scenery chewing mode, and that's never a bad thing.

I really enjoyed the Shaw Brothers versions of the story, and SWORD OF MANY LOVES is just as entertaining. Leon Lai was an odd casting choice, and he's certainly no Kuo Chui or Chin Siu-Ho but he's actually not bad here (or his voice dubber isn't). Michelle Reis plays against type and is really very funny, whilst Cheung Man plays very much to type and is... well, she is.

The real star of the film is the creativity though, as expressed in special effects and action choreography that's some of the most fun of the early 90's wu xia boom. Ma Yuk-Sing was clearly in full-on Ching Siu-Tung mode and his choreography is obvious because of it - it's less clear what Yuen Cheung-Yan's contributions were, though he is no doubt quite capable of doing a Ching Siu-Tung act if that's what is required of him. Cinematography is very nice too... looks like a Jingle Ma film, perhaps, but the two credited cinematographers are not names I recognise. Poon Man-Kit was better known for his ganster films, but his sole contribution to the wu xia craze is certainly a worthy effort, and it's a shame he didn't show off his crazy imaginative side more often.

I suppose the film is more comedy than action overall, and it is sometimes very funny - though it also becomes quite touching and, ummm, pathetic (as in the adjective form of pathos, obviously!) in the end.

If you're a fan of this sort of film, THE SWORD OF MANY LOVES is sure to please, I would have thought. Sadly it appears to have been denied a DVD release of any sort. The Australian VHS has the edge over the VCD in image quality, though the VCD is more fully widescreen.


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Also known as

  • The Sword Of Many Lovers