Film Review – The Swordsman (2020)

Tae-yul (Jang Hyuk) lives with his daughter, Tae-ok (Kim Hyun-Soo) in relative seclusion after he started to lose his sight from an injury he obtained during battle. There are new political and royal changes happening and so the landscape of South Korea is feeling uncertain, but Tae-yul and his daughter stay positive, although his failing eyesight is starting to concern Tae-ok.

Starting to realise that if she doesn’t do something soon, her father will lose his sight entirely, Tae-ok tries to gain a position working for a rich family so that she can get the treatment that her father needs to restore his sight. However, when Tae-ok is captured by slave trader, Gurutai (Joe Taslim) then Tae-yul must search for her far and wide even though his eyesight is failing.

The Swordsman is a South Korean movie written and directed by Jae-Hoon Choi and based on an ancient Korean true story. However, unlike the typical revenge stories that have been scattered throughout Asian martial arts cinema, Jae-Hoon’s script builds a part of history that talks about a time where the country wasn’t sure where it would be heading.

Also, the rapport between father and daughter is more nuanced than other films and Tae-ok is shown to be more than a damsel in distress. Although, as the film builds to its climax, it unfortunately forgets its world building and characters in favour of a series of fight scenes. However, for those who wanted to watch a martial arts movie called The Swordsman, it would have been a disappointment if the titular character didn’t use his sword.

The production is lavish and authentically transports its audience back to 17th century Korea, it’s beautifully shot and the costumes are intricately tailored. Jang Hyuk also gives a great performance in the lead, not only in the conversations with his daughter, but with his fight scenes and his heroic stance to do anything to get back his daughter. Joe Taslim also gives the audience a great villain to hate and his menace heightens the danger and encourages the audience to support the movie’s hero more.

The Swordsman will be released on DVD & Digital on 17th May, Blu-Ray 24th May 2021 (UK)

Action, Drama | South Korea, 2020 | 15 | Blu-Ray, DVD, Digital | Trinity CineAsia | Dir. Jae-Hoon Choi | Jang Hyuk, Man-sik Jeong, Angelina Danilova, Choi Jin-ho, Seung-Hyeon Ji, Joe Taslim, Kim Hyun-Soo