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Swordsmen in Double Flag Town (1991)

Cast: Wei Gao, Mana Zhao
Director: He Ping, He Ping
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Knight
Genre: Action, Foreign, China, Martial Arts, Quest, Revenge
Running Time: 90 min.
Languages: Mandarin
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

Reviewers report that this Chinese film belongs in two seemingly incompatible genre categories: it is a martial arts/revenge action film, set in a thoroughly Chinese version of America's Old West. In the story, Haige (Gao Wei) is a boy who has unusual skill in using a martial arts twin-sword technique. This comes in handy when the brother of an important military nobleman tries to rape his fiancee. He becomes a hunted man, and in order to ensure his girl's (and his own) continued safety, must in turn hunt down and destroy a nest of criminals who have taken over an entire town. Fortunately, his skill with the swords would make a Benihana chef proud, and he slices, chops, and dices with great skill and dispatch. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Interesting, but somehow dated by mason December 10, 2004 - 11:22 AM PST
1 out of 1 members found this review helpful
The description on the DVD did say "action packed" but that seems to have been fixed on the site now, which is good as it was extremely misleading. This is not one to rent if you're looking for lots of sword-fighting, despite the title. It should actually have been titled "Young boy coming of age in Dougle Flag Town" as that's really what the movie's about.

What this movie is closest to is a combination of "Ashes of Time" and "Once Upon a Time in the West" -- sort of. Before you think that it's as good as those two films, let me assure you that it's not. But it shares some sensibilities with each. It's a very slow, picturesque western, with some tried-and-true characters from China's martial arts film tradition. Unfortunately, while slow and picturesque, the cinematography isn't close to either "Ashes of Time" or Leone's work. The budget was clearly low for this film, and the results include inconsistent lighting and some rough editing.

What's most odd is that if I hadn't known this movie was made in 1990 I might have assumed it was a relatively advanced Shaw Brothers film from the 70s. It has the same feel to it in some ways, though none of the raw action that the Shaws brought to their work.

Ultimately this movie's worth seeing, but be prepared for a distinct lack of action (there are three actual swordfights, and none of them show anything much). There are some interesting character choices (the main character, the young boy, barely speaks at all), and bits and pieces of nicely-done framing with a good setting. But overall, it's a little baffling that the movie won a number of awards when there are much better choices available.

Action Packed? No, action light. by MrMiscreant July 18, 2004 - 12:13 AM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
Forget what the movie desc. says about action packed. There's two, maybe three, sword fights in this thing. The first two happen too fast for you to see anything. Its literally a flash of metal and a guy dropping dead. The final climatic fight scene is covered up in a swirl of dust. What a rip.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.54)
13 Votes
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