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Blades of Blood

BLADES OF BLOOD
DVD region 2. Metrodome.

In Sixteenth century Korea, a power struggle between the ruling monarchy and a political / military organisation known as the Alliance is reaching its peak, with the latter group, led by Monk Hak ready to wage war in order to seize power. To complicate things further, the Japanese are about to invade, and no-one seems quite sure what to do about it.

After an Alliance massacre, the surviving Han Kyun-ju, bastard son of a regime leader and a concubine, teams up with blind swordsman Zato…sorry, Hwang, a travelling accupuncturist and opponent of Monk Hak, as they travel across the country to seek out the ambitious leader and take their revenge.

This Korean movie has a grand scale to it, and manages to combine swordplay with humour as the odd couple bicker and wander along, but there’s something lacking here. Perhaps it’s simply my unfamiliarity with this period of Korean history, but the scenes of political intrigue are very dull and the early battles often quite confusing, as it’s hardly made clear who exactly is who.

The result is a film that is far less gripping than it should be, and with the comedy elements seeming a little forced and rather clumsy, the film struggles to hold the viewer’s interest. The ending is pretty epic, and almost succeeds in reaching the emotional highs its clearly aiming at – and Monk Hak is, thankfully, a fully formed character rather than an out ‘n’ out villain, doing what he believes is right and with a sense of honour.

Blades of Blood isn’t a terrible film, but in a world where swordplay movies are plentiful, it doesn’t have anything to make it stand out of the crowd..

LES DE MONZE

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