Fantasia 2012: ‘The Sword Identity’ has a unique indentity indeed
The Sword Identity
Directed by Haofeng Xu
Written by Haofeng Xu
Wu xia can be a fantastically exciting movie genre when done correctly. The costumes, the melodrama, the grand scale action set pieces, even the more intimate but no less impressive combative contests. Directors frequently take the opportunity to present the thousands of individuals who engaged in such warfare, from the generals to the most common of foot soldiers, seem quite heroic and worthy of special commemoration. With a little bit of the proverbial ‘thinking outside the box’, a writer and director can find some comedic value inherent in the traditions and discipline exercised by these battalions. Haofeng Xu, an accomplished screenwriter, brings forth his directorial debut, The Sword Identity, a film which poses a different look at the world of these mighty, nearly mythic figures.
In a slowly developing scene, two unknown warriors creep and crawl their way along the walls of a citadel in ancient China. They are assaulted by its guards. The two infiltrators prove worthy adversaries, dispatching assailants with cunning speed and efficiency, until one of them is captured. The other, younger one, Liang Henlu (Yang Song) flees the premise, but vows to return to free his collaborator. The warriors who fended off their unwanted visitors lay claim to the beautiful weapon wielded by the enemy they caught. To their surprise, it is a sword with distinct Japanese influences, a crucial taboo if there ever was one. The captive tries to plea his case, explaining that he is a former student of the long dead general Qi, who in fact taught them that to defeat the invading Japanese, such a weapon proves the most effective. While he is held in the clutches of the suspicious officials, Liang Henlu uses all his wits, as well as the compliance of a beautiful foreign prostitute, to free his friend and finally explain his true intentions.