The Three Swordsmen (1994) / Action-Fantasy
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but contains violence
Running Time: 86 min.
Cast: Andy Lau, Brigitte Lin, Kam-Kong Tsui, Yu Li
Director: Taylor Wong
Screenplay: Lee Sai Hung, Sze Mei Yee
It's pretty difficult to give you a plot summary of a film that is not only faithless to its own plot, but at times does not even remember what it is. I'll give it my best shot.
There's a competition in China for a Holy Sword, and on the celebration before the competition the prince is slain by someone pretending to be one of the competitors, Sam (Lau, Handsome Siblings). Now Sam finds the army after him and must escape capture while also searching for the truth behind the events to clear his name.
This is about as much as I could glean from the 90-minute film, and the length of time it took for you to read it is about the same amount of time the film spends relating it.
There isn't much to recommend here, with choppy direction, poor characterizations, anemic writing, god-awful music, and fight scenes, most of which consist of people looking like they are jumping on trampolines for the appearance of high-flying action.
Andy Lau is given little to work with, and can do little but smile and charm his way through a muddled story. The almost always watchable Brigitte Lin (The Bride with White Hair, Royal Tramp 2) is not only underused, really only appearing in the final third, but once again, is playing a male character with her voice even dubbed in by a man.
The Three Swordsmen seems to have been done hastily due to its sloppiness, as if the creators as well as director Taylor Wong (Behind the Yellow Lone, Tragic Hero) just wanted to slap something together and get it over with. If the makers of this film didn't care, then why should we?
Boring and forgettable, and a waste of good acting talent -- and our time.
©2000 Vince Leo