NYAFF 2012 Screening: THE SWORD IDENTITY Weaves a New Tale

Peter Martin, Managing Editor

The 2012 New York Asian Film Festival is now in full swing, and in addition to full reviews we'll also be posting capsule reviews for some of the titles that we've covered before. Case in point: the New York premiere of a new film by writer / director / action choreographer Xu Haofeng, the screenwriter for Wong Kar Wai's The Grandmasters.

Here are thoughts from our correspondent Mark Popham:

I have been reviewing films for the NYAFF for the past four years, and every year I have received at least one humble screener disc, with a title hastily Sharpied on, that has completely blown my expectations out of the water. This year, The Sword Identity did the honors, using a time-worn story - practitioners of a new form of martial arts must prove its worth by defeating other masters in combat - to weave a completely different tale, one about modernity, technology and the passing of time.
When a pair of Japanese pirates invade a small, seemingly-deserted village, the warring heads of local martial arts clans come together to fight off the threat - after they have decided, by means of a tournament, who gets to actually fight the pirates. Meanwhile, an aged warrior returns to save his village once more, while the Japanese pirates - who are neither Japanese nor pirates - try to stay ahead of the law and rapidly become inmeshed in local politics. With an aesthetic, pace and intensity which suggests Jarmusch at his best, The Sword Identity is beautiful, fun - and extremely funny.

The Sword Identity screens today (Sunday, July 1) at Lincoln Center at 1:00 p.m., and again on Wednesday, July 11 at 6:00 p.m. For more information, see the link below.

Around the Internet:
  • pkazee

    I'm not so sure this film is so much about "modernity, technology and the passing of time", as it is about pretense in the martial arts world (the various masters avoid having to put their legendary skills to any real test, the hermit master colors his mustache to appear younger, and the most successful combatant in the film is a prostitute who was taught only a single technique). Here is a link to a review by Ric Meyers that you may find of interest: http://ricmeyers.com/2012/07/03/martial-arts-in-media-712/ It is certainly helped me to come to grips with this unusual film.

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