The Swordsman Blu-ray Review


  • Director : Choi Jae-Hoon
  • Actors : Jang Hyuk, Jeong Man-Sik, Kim Hyeon-soo
  • Subtitles: : English
  • Language : Korean (DTS 5.1)
  • Studio : Well Go Usa
  • Aspect Ratio : 2.35:1
  • MPAA rating :(Not Rated)
  • Media Format : Dolby, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Run time : 1 hour and 41 minutes
  • Release date : February 16, 2021


             Upon seeing the title and poster for The Swordsman, I automatically assumed it to be a Japanese film. Although it has all of the icons and narrative distinctions for it to belong in the samurai genre, this is actually a South Korean film. Here is what makes The Swordsman truly fascinating; it has all of the markers of trends in modern Korean cinema, including themes of revenge, making it a compelling hybrid of cultures. Revenger had a similar approach to combine Indonesian action with a South Korean production, proving fascinating case studies, as well as solid genre entertainment.


            Based on historical events during the period of Ming-Qing dynasty transition in China. After failing to protect his king, Gwanghaegun (Jang Hyun-sung) during a coup, Joseon’s greatest swordsman, Tae-yul (Jang Hyuk) is blinded. Years later he is raising his pre-teen daughter, Tae-ok (Kim Hyun-soo), in the seclusion of the mountains on the outskirts of the city. Unbeknownst to him, an evil group of slave traders have come into Joseon and are making trouble stealing girls for prostitution. When Tae-ok is taken while trying to get drugs for her father’s ailing sight, Tae-yul sets out on a vengeful mission to get her back at any cost.


            As one might imagine, the main source of enjoyment in The Swordsman (or any swordplay film, for that matter), is the action. This is also quite clearly where the priority has been placed on the filmmaking process, as well as the narrative/screenplay. The opening scene of the coup is shot in an entirely different format from the scenes that follow. The cinematography even looks richer within the fight scenes, with a lot of care and attention to the lighting, and other scenes are mostly handheld with primarily natural light sources.


            With all the emphasis being on the action, mostly filling the screen time of the second half, I must admit that I was impressed. Carefully choreographed and elegantly shot, these sequences are more than enough to fulfill the expectations of most genre fans. At the same time, they carry the usual pathos I have come to expect from much of South Korean cinema, whether in the case of tragic lovers or sacrificial heroes. In fact, displacing this narrative from the samurai genre into the gangster genre, and it would essentially be the exact same film as The Man From Nowhere.


            The Blu-ray release of The Swordsman doesn’t come with much beyond the film itself, other than an optional English-language dubbing that I would never recommend. At the same time, the cinematography in the impressive enough in the showcase scenes of the film to warrant seeing this in the highest definition and format as possible.


    Entertainment Value: 8.5/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 7.5/10

    Historical Significance:  5/10

    Special Features: 1/10

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