Swordsman and Enchantress (1978)

Directed by
Chor Yuen adapts Gu Long once again
Reviewed by Simon on 2024-04-01

A mysterious young swordsman starts causing trouble in the martial world, stealing a legendary sword and kidnapping a swordsman's wife, and making sure everyone knows that Xiao is the one responsible. Trouble is, the real Xiao is trying to keep his head down and stay out of the troubles of the jiang hu. It is not to be.

Chor Yuen once more adapts a story by Gu Long, and it's all very familiar... the problem with being at the top is there's always someone who wants the spot and you can't just give it to them, they have to take it. These adaptations tend to be rather similar to each other, but I like that they seem to exist in their own world - a jiang hu whose rules and logic flow like a dream, with an aesthetic that seems to be attempting to crystallise the essence of beauty into its opulent sets.

The action always seems to be a bit of an afterthought in these films - even if there is a lot of it here. The choreography is fairly basic and the camera seems more concerned with artistic framing of the sets than drawing us into the combat. It is what is - other directors were doing ground-breaking work in that arena at the time but Chor Yuen's attention was elsewhere.

Swordsman and Enchantress is a mid-tier example of Chor Yuen wuxia, seems like he hadn't quite got bored of churning them out by this point, and Shaw Brothers were still giving him a respectable budget to work with, but you can see he's struggling to find anything fresh to do with the genre.