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Film / Soul of the Sword

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"The King of Swords... that title is MINE!"

Soul of the Sword is a 1977 Wuxia film produced by Shaw Brothers, directed by Hua Shan (same director of The Super Inframan) and starring Ti Lung.

Ti Lung plays Nameless, a wandering swordsman who is seeking the title of "King of Swords", hoping to dominate the martial arts world and make a name for himself (No pun intended). Travelling from his rural hometown and making his way to the hideout of the current King of Swords (Ku Feng), Nameless have to kill his way through challengers and assassins also seeking the title, as well as the King's servants and guardians.

Soul of the Sword contains examples of:

  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: One of the many battles Nameless ends up in, is a temple filled with halberd-wielding monks, which as usual he defeats in minutes.
  • Anti-Hero: Nameless, who isnít the nicest guy despite being The Hero, from brutalizing his victims to gloating at the exposed chest of the female assassin he just killed.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: There are two all-out fight scenes worthy of the trope—when Nameless fights his way through the entire Praetorian Guard to see the Emperor, and when he and Ho Lien are attacked in a bamboo grove by the remaints of the Guard.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Nameless' kindly old doctor friend is the King of Swords.
  • Dark Action Girl: The female assassin in the bathhouse scene.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Nameless gets a few good digs in.
    Yan: "Ho Lien is mine!"
    Nameless:"You should put up notices around town to that effect."
  • Diabolus ex Machina: After becoming the new King of Swords for five minutes, Nameless gets challenged by Yan, his old rival now sworn to become his enemy, and in the ensuing battle both of them ends up killing each other.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: averted. Ho Lien is already dead, but Nameless succumbs to his wounds as he's crawling towards her body.
  • Downer Ending: Nameless becomes the new King of Swords, having defeated the previous king, only to realize all heís fighting for the whole movie is for naught. Realizing he have nobody he can rely on, and no-one cares for him, he ends up getting ambushed by Yan, and they eventually kill each other.
  • The Drifter: Nameless, who doesnít have a home and spends his days wandering and seeking challengers and assassins ready to kill him.
  • Driven to Suicide: The fate of the unnamed challengerís girlfriend, who kills herself with her loverís sword after her lover is killed by The King of Swords.
    • Ho Lien, after hearing the above story and giving the matter some thought, tells Nameless that she has also decided to kill herself if he dies. Nameless doesn't give her the chance.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The adult Nameless is first seen meditating with his sword and a bird in a cage. He releases the bird to fly free....and then stabs it, very accurately, with said sword.
  • Fan Disservice: After the bathhouse fight where Nameless kills the female assassin by slicing her chest, we get a quick shot of her boobs splattered with her blood.
  • Foil: Nameless and Yan are a reflection of each other; both men seeks the title of "King of Swords", but while Nameless is a competent fighter who made a name for himself despite being No Name Given, and accepts challenges fro everyone who wants to kill him in a fight, Yan on the other hand is more practical, avoids challenges on his way and doesn't hesitate to ambush Nameless when he's in the middle of a Heroic RRoD.
  • Furo Scene: Thereís a scene in a bathhouse where Nameless, clad in a Modesty Towel, gets ambushed by a female assassin who wants to become the Queen of Swords. Cue Nameless fighting in a towel with his abs exposed (a rather standard practice for most of Ti Lungís movies.).
  • Groin Attack: Nameless does this a lot when fighting without his sword, but especially on Yan when Yan had stabbed him, an upward nutshot sending Yan flying a few meters vertically above so that he lands on the tip of Namelessí sword.
  • The Hero Dies: Calling Nameless a "Hero" might be a bit of a stretch though. The Anti-Hero Dies?
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: True to this genre, The Protagonist is a swordsman.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Nameless' approach to romance is basically this, as he courts Ho Lien by beating up her nominal boyfriend, Yan, and then informing her that she's going to be with him that night.
  • Kill the Ones You Love: Nameless realizes he will need to kill his girlfriend Ė the only person who still matters to him Ė in order to make himself the new King of Swords. And he did exactly just that.
  • Lonely at the Top: Was the much-coveted title of the King of Swords really worth it?
  • "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: Used by the recipient in this case. Ho Lien tells Nameless that he didn't actually need to ravish her since she was already in love with him.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: Thereís a rather lengthy flashback depicting Nameless training to be a warrior and making his vow to become the new King of Swords as a child.
  • Mugging the Monster: Early on in the film, an unnamed challenger, one of many seeking the title of King of Swords, tries to pick a fight with Nameless. Fifteen seconds later Nameless is cleaning the dead challengerís blood off his sword.
  • Mutual Kill: The Final Battle between Nameless and Yan culminates with Yan stabbing Nameless through the gut, but Nameless manage to deliver a kick into Yanís testicles, sending Yan a few feet into the air before Nameless stabs his opponent back.
  • No Name Given: Ever wonder why the main character is called "Nameless"?
  • Praetorian Guard: The swordsmen guards of Pai Kwa Hall, and the Eights Swordsman of Guan-zhong. They still all die in under a minute when fighting Nameless though.
  • Playing Possum: At the very end of the film, Nameless is ambushed by Yan and the second female swordsman, who has taken Ho Lien's place under her shroud.
  • Properly Paranoid: after being ambushed in the bath once, Nameless is seen bathing with his sword in his hand.
  • The Rival: Yan, to Nameless, both men seeking the title of "King of Swords".
  • Slashed Throat: Nameless kills most of his named opponents by slicing their jugulars.
  • Sword Fight: The main action set piece of the movie, with Nameless being ambushed by rival assassins at every turn while earning the title of "King of Swords".
  • The Unfettered: Nameless, eventually, after killing his girlfriend and truly making himself lonely as a legendary warrior.
  • White Shirt of Death: Nameless wears a variety of outfits in the movie, but in his final scene when he dies, heís wearing all white. Splattered with plenty of blood from his own Agonizing Stomach Wound.
  • You Kill It, You Bought It: Nameless seeks to dethrone the King of Swords by defeating him in a Duel to the Death, whereupon after his victory he will be granted the title of the new King of Swords. He succeeds, but unfortunately itís a Pyrrhic Victory for Nameless because power comes at a price.