Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: The Sword With No Name (2009)

The Sword With No Name (Review)
Kim Yong-Gyun/Jo Seung-woo/2009
Where to Watch:
Netflix Streaming
Amazon Prime

"...felt much like an anime, which was refreshing."

Mu-myeong (Jo Seung-woo) is a drifting bounty hunter who falls for Min Ja-yeong (Soo Ae), a woman destined to become Queen Myeongseong...

The Sword With No Name continues as Mu-myeong works himself into the palace as he vows to protect Ja-yeong, now the Queen of Korea. Basically, it follows the hardships of their complicated relationship, and the outer forces that try to keep them apart. You can see the feeling of love are mutual, but it's not something either party can admit due to different circumstances. The story is predictable, but entertaining and engaging. This tale of love and sacrifice leads up to an incredible ending -- definitely something most people won't initially enjoy, but something South Korean film fans have grown accustomed to.

The Sword With No Name is a romantic action film. The romance elements give of mixed feelings. These elements never feel fully fleshed out because of contradicting scenes and unknown intentions of certain characters. This is partly due to storytelling, particularly the feeling that something is missing -- I usually get this same feeling when I watch a film that has been cut by the distributor, and this feeing is clearly evident here. Anyway, the romance is effective enough, though, and there is one scene that has been stitched into my head; this scene was almost unbearable to watch and heart-aching.

The action sequences in The Sword With No Name are great. There are some clear uses of computer graphics in some sequences, but they blend well with the rest of the style, so well that it didn't bother me at all. The choreography was great during the live-action sequences, and it was creative during the computer-aided scenes. Anyway, the entire style, during the battles and otherwise, felt much like an anime, which was refreshing.

Jo Seung-woo does a good job throughout most of his performance -- he does occasionally overact and he occasionally feels lifeless, but the bulk of his performance was spot-on. Soo Ae is very impressive with a versatile performance -- Soo Ae is really one of the best actresses from South Korea. The music fit the setting, but doesn't have many memorable themes. The cinematography is great and it greatly helps develop a slick, unique style; however, there are some scenes that are too dark and difficult to see. Kim Yong-Gyun's direction is mostly consistent and even fresh, but there was a lack of focus on the romance and it feels like some vital parts of the story have gone missing.

Overall, The Sword With No Name is an entertaining and engaging romance-action film. The romance elements are serviceable, while the action is thrilling. The storytelling is clean and easy, but there are some story elements missing -- it jumps around too much and skips some necessary scenes and explanations. Definitely worth watching, though, as the good outweighs the bad.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood, and some gore. One brief sex scene.

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