Dao (aka The Blade) is a remake of the 1967 Shaw Brothers movie The one armed swordsman. It centers around the character On who works at a local sword factory called Sharp.
Shortly into the movie, it is announced that On will inherit the Sharp sword factory. His co workers are outraged and he very quickly becomes unpopular. Shortly after this he overhears a discussion about his father in which he learns that his father was killed by a Tattooed man who could fly.
With bandits causing trouble around the village he goes out to take revenge and steals the factory’s prized posession, his father’s broken sword. A girl named Ling, who is in love with On and another man form the factory follows him but gets assaulted by bandits. After a struggle On gets his arm caught in a bear trap and loses a third of it. From there he cannot be found and is presumed dead by all except Ling.
Ling sets out with Ironhead to find On. On ends up living with young girl named Blackie.
After burying his father’s sword, claiming he’ll never take revenge in his ‘crippled’ state (half is right arm missing). They are attacked shortly later by bandits so afterwards On digs up the sword and also happens to find a martial arts manual. He begins teaching himself martial arts and training diligently, eventually becoming a skilled fighter despite his disability. He then continues on his path to revenge.
The Simple Revenge Story with an added Element
In most revenge stories there seems to be an on going rampage of people getting killed (or bashed) until the villian finally answers for his crimes, but On has something a little different to deal with – he only has one arm!
So before he can even start taking his revenge he first gives up on the idea. What I liked about this film was the fact that he tried to live a simple life but was pushed around and treated as less than human because he was ‘a cripple’.
The bandits attacking him and Blackie (the girl he’s living with) is what fuels the fire, and the discovery of the martial arts manual is the turning point when he decides to dig up his father’s sword and learn to fight.
The overall quality of the film
I’m not sure if it’s the DVD I watched or just the way the movie was made but the quality of the video and audio of this movie was harsh and just plain terrible.
As soon as I started watching it I thought ‘this will be a long 90 minutes’.
The story and overall look of the film was quite that of a movie made 15 years earlier than it was. It really ruins the experience of the film and I think if the image was clear and the audio not so rough it would have been far more enjoyable. Being an official DVD (at least I think it is – it came form Amazon) I expected more. But I waited patiently for the action to make things better.
The Action & Martial Arts
The action started, it didn’t get much better. The fights were fast and full of adrenaline, but moments were sped up ridiculously and they really over did On’s spinning sword technique.
It’s not horrible but definitely doesn’t live up to the standards of most top martial arts films released at the time.
In saying that thought the final fight of the film wasn’t too bad. It was more of the same stuff but the fight was a bit longer and had more motivation behind On to really cut the guy up – so it was a little more emotionally charged.
Pretty ordinary. If the production values were better it may have been easier to watch. If the choreography was as good as what’s being pumped out today the movie would have been awesome. The storyline has lots of potential but is let down by the action and poor quality in my opinion.
On DVD –
Region 1 (US & Canada)
The Blade on DVD
Region 2 (UK, Europe, etc)
The Blade on DVD
Region 4 (Australia, New Zealand, etc)
No luck! Region free required.
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Blackie is a girl.
Well damn. Thanks Ted, fixed 🙂
Chung Bik-ha, actress played Blackie.