The Sword with No Name (Bool-kkott-cheo-reom na-bi-cheo-reom) (2009)
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Critic Reviews for The Sword with No Name (Bool-kkott-cheo-reom na-bi-cheo-reom)
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Audience Reviews for The Sword with No Name (Bool-kkott-cheo-reom na-bi-cheo-reom)
The Sword With No Name is about a Joseon dynasty bounty hunter becoming the body guard of the queen he secretly loves. It's the love of first sight romance story with two character who can't stand to be separated from each other after spending one day together. The couple themselves are better developed than the actual relationship. One being a devoted Empress who sacrifices what her heart wants for the better of her country. She's given enough development to feel sympathetic towards despite the action making the body guard pursuing her miserable. The body guard is not as fleshed as the young Empress. Instead the film depicts the body guard passion for her love through his action which depending on the viewer will range from being creepy, silly, tragic, or moving. When it's not focus on romance we have a royal family bickering about politics where we have an indecisive villain. That being the king's father who changes sides every other minute, wanting to protect the queen while at other times would like to see nothing more than her death. A failed attempt to add an extra layer of intelligence to the whole film. The political elements are welcoming giving the film a more epic feel. Giving a sense of there is more struggles than simply the guy not getting the girl. Sadly it political aspect is not treated as with much importance compare to the central couple struggles. It certainly has flaws going for an epic story though failing with some half-baked material, but the characters themselves are interesting enough to carry a fantasy like story. Seung-woo Cho provides a good performance not being too romantic or cliched. He keeps it believable carrying much dramatic weight while also showing a lighter side to see what makes him likable. Soo Ae is excellent anchoring, though not dominating the film. Her rashness adds a compelling layer to the film getting across her feelings through her facial expression more than with words. Soo Ae and Seung-woo Cho chemistry works in the film favor with scenes coming off as sweet and tragic. Yong-gyun Kim doesn't skip on the chance on showing beautiful landscapes over telling a good story. He captures the natural beauty of South Korea landscapes from forest, the countryside, and palaces. The costumes aside from being lovely are very detailed. Making the film in certain scenes feel like a engrossing visual poem. The film few and short length swords fights are all terrible. Three out of four sword fights suffer the same problem where plastic CG actor are performing the acrobatics action scene speeding it up with poor uses of fast and slow motion. The change in speed either makes things go by too fast to enjoy the choreography or goes slow to hide the illusion of CG actors doing the action. Not to forget the choreography for the first two sword fights are out of place being more fitting in a video game since the rest of the films the combat is not over the top. One moment in particular being cringe worthy where our protagonist skate with a sword like clever to avoid his opponent strikes. The one and only practical action scene is the worst of the bunch. The unconvincing choreography is mostly to blamed. Viewers can forgive a lone bodyguard winning against an entire army, but not when the hero combatant shows a lack of skill. The lead runs into an army of soldiers and is surrounded with the choreography resulting in our lead mostly trying escape an armlock. It would have also helped if the lead didn't have to spin perform his punch in this particular action scene. These action scenes were unneeded taking you out of the film. The Sword With No Name is a visual treat for the eyes from it beautiful landscapes right down the colorfully detailed costumes. It's story is like a epic fairy tale which sadly never combining politics, romance, and action in coherent manner. The film positives will overshadow it flaws as it has more to admire than detract, but in the end can't feel as if the film was meant to be grander than how it ended up.
When the liberal attitudes of newly crowned Queen Ja-Yeong threaten the isolationist dogma of the ruling royalty her father-in-law plots her assassination leaving an ex-bounty hunter devoted to her service as her sole protector. This Korean historical adventure contains all the usual ingredients of similar Asian martial arts films, namely an honour bound warrior, unrequited love and political machinations regarding the corruption of the country's way of life by outside influences. However The Sword With No Name has many qualities that raise it above the crowd; roguish Seung-woo Cho is just enough of a scoundrel to make a fun and charming anti-hero, Ae Su makes a more intellectual and feisty heroine than most and the politics are more sophisticated then the usual "all foreigners are bad" xenophobia of a lot of these types of film. The character dynamic of the love triangle is also better realised than most and the romance more sincere making the film a little reminiscent of The House Of Flying Daggers with a dash of Hero. A couple of the fight sequences are a little CGI heavy resembling a game of Soul Calibur more than anything and the ending does succumb to sappiness, but the journey there is consistently entertaining thanks to some very likeable performances and an above par script.
Yong-gyun Kim's The Sword with No Name comes through in the end, thanks to its story.
Based on the real historical figure of Empress Myeong-seong, the story for The Sword with No Name contains drama, politics, romance, and action to fill the entire 2 hours. That isn't to say that it is a walk in the park because this film is far from hasty, but it does enough to keep it from feeling like a stagnant biopic.
The swordplay is few and far in between. The earlier segments are heavy on the effects, in a good way, while the camera work and choreography also enhance these scenes. There may be a little too much in the way of slow motion, but overall they are satisfying pieces of work. If only there was more.
The lead performances from Seung-woo Cho and Su-Ae carry the dramatic scenes. Seung-woo Cho has some small eccentricities that become a good counter to the political seriousness of Su-Ae.
Thanks to its powerful ending, The Sword with No Name becomes a fine addition to Korean cinema.
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