Review: The Swordsman of All Swordsmen (Taiwan 1968)

Subway Cinema’s 10th Old School Kung Fu Festival 2023

The first film in the loose Swordsman of All Swordsman trilogy could not be more different than the awesomely goofy Ghost Hill, it’s a deadly serious revenge film (Stock Wuxia Plot #4, kid grows up and trains to avenge murdered parents) that tackles tough issues of forgiveness and duty. 

Honestly, I’ve seen a lot of Joseph Kuo films, and while this may not be my favorite (his Seven Grandmasters is maybe the platonic ideal of an old school Kung Fu film), it might be the most accomplished. There are some beautiful tracking shots, a King Hu-esque use of scenery, and a truly gorgeous final confrontation in a foggy courtyard. And a well-handled emotional throughline – I squeezed out a manly, chivalrous tear. Top notch wuxia.

Playing at the Old School Kung Fu Festival.

Read my interview with Goran Topalovic of Subway Cinema about this year’s OSKFF here.

Joseph Kuo films ranked here.

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