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Film / The Sword of Swords

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The Sword of Swords is a 1968 Wuxia film from Shaw Brothers, starring Jimmy Wang Yu, Tien Feng, and Li Ching.

Wang-yu, having shot himself into fame with the first One-Armed Swordsman film released just a year before, officially made himself the studio's leading wuxia icon, with this film as the first of many to follow. Jimmy plays Lin Jen-shiau, a martial artist assigned by his school to guard a powerful, near-invincible superweapon - the titular Sword of Swords - passed down for generations within his clan ever since it was forged 1,000 years ago. But a traitor of his clan seeks the sword for himself as well, and will put the entire clan through hell to get it.

The Swords of Swords contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: Lin Jen-shiau, fighting Fang’s minions while blinded, ends up unintentionally butchering a dozen innocent hostages used as meatshields, including children.
  • Actor Allusion: This movie was released a year after One-Armed Swordsman. In both films Jimmy plays a handicapped martial arts master, losing his arm in the former and his eyesight in this one.
  • Blind Weaponmaster: Lin Jen-shiau in the second half of the film, rendered blind after being ambushed by Fang Shi-shiung.
  • Cool Sword: The titular sword, forged by the Master sword-smith Meng Yao Chi using best metals in China over a period of ten years. A mere swing of the sword will summon powerful bursts of wind that will blow enemies off their feet, and whomever wields said sword will be invincible.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Lin Jen-shiau, after losing the titular sword, his home, his eyesight, and almost all his friends from the village who took him in… which he accidentally killed while blinded, no less.
  • Dirty Coward: Fang Shi-shiung and his minions had no qualms kidnapping innocent villagers, including children, to be used as meatshields when their battles go south.
  • Elite Mook: Fang Shi-shiung’s archer units, who in their introduction scene displays their Improbable Aiming Skills by shooting coins on the floor into the air, and then shooting those coins again while in mid-air onto the ceiling. Against Lin however, the entire unit still goes down within minutes.
  • Eye Scream: Lin Jen-shiau lose his eyesight courtesy of a pair of flung darts by Fang Shi-shiung.
  • Facial Horror: The eventual fate of Fang Shi-shiung, by having two of Lin’s shortswords driven into his forehead at the end of their Single-Stroke Battle.
  • Fallen Hero: The Big Bad of the picture is Fang Shi-shiung, a former disciple of Master Mui and fellow student of Lin Jen-shiau, who covets the power of the titular sword and upon being rejected from being its new owner, commits his subsequent Face–Heel Turn.
  • Handicapped Badass: Lin Jen-shiau, after he becomes blind for the second half of the movie.
  • Hate Sink: Fang Shi-shiung, the over-egoistic Evil Former Friend to Lin Jen-shiau. Not only is he a power-hungry, rebellious sociopath who turns against his former teacher and students simply because he’s rejected from having power, but he’s also a master manipulator who tries to turn the entire school against Lin Jen-shiau, spread false lies about his former friend, and tries to have multiple innocent people killed if it means him having access to the powerful sword at the end. He eventually crossed the line when, confronting the blinded Lin Jen-shiau, Fang Shi-shiung had an entire village of innocent people, including Lin Jen-shiau’s Love Interest Bai-feng, kidnapped, gagged, and manipulates Lin Jen-shiau to kill every villager in the subsequent battle.
  • Humiliation Conga: Lin Jen-shiau in the second half of the movie. Losing the titular sword? Yes. His home destroyed in a fire caused by Fang’s minions after the sword? Yes. Getting blinded and left for the dead? Yes. Having his love interest, Bai-feng, and multiple innocent people from the village who took him in, abducted in an attempt to draw him out? Yes. Manipulated by Fang while blinded, into killing almost all the innocent civilians, which he only realized after he touches the face of a little girl he just cut down while blinded, causing him to have a My God, What Have I Done? moment? Yes.
  • Human Shield: Fang and his mooks does this with an entire village of civilains in the finale.
  • Hurting Hero: Lin Jen-shiau, from start to end. Frequently the target of Fang's bullying antics, having his mentor killed and nearly losing his wife and child, getting blinded and being tricked into slaughtering a whole village of innocent people.
  • Idiot Ball: Lin Jen-shiau is assigned to keep the Sword of Swords by his side for safekeeping for much of the film, and had to contend with multiple attempts from Fang Shi-shiung’s minions trying to steal said sword, to the point of losing his home and nearly everything precious to him. But for some reason, it never occurs to Lin that he is holding a powerful, nigh-invincible superweapon that he can use against his enemies. He spends pretty much his entire screentime having the sword sheathed while running for his life, event though there isn’t a reason to do so, and after witnessing Lin going through one hell of a Trauma Conga Line the movie starts becoming a chore to finish.
  • Knife Outline: Lin ends up having an outline of arrows after being ambushed by Fang's archers in the infiltration scene.
  • Made of Plasticine: Fang’s legion of archers who tries to ambush Lin. Lin managed to kill the first two of them by throwing ceramic bowls into their faces.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The villagers who nursed Lin back to health, took care of him and his baby, and gave Lin a place to stay after he lost his home ends up becoming Fang's hostages, used as meatshields for the blind Lin to slice apart.
  • One-Man Army: Lin, who kills plenty of mooks single-handedly in three large-scale fight scenes. In the third and last one, he's blind.
  • Rage-Breaking Point: Lin after realizing he's been tricked into killing dozens of innocent villagers, courtesy of Fang, finally snaps and gains himself the push he needs to finally kill Fang.
  • Replaced with Replica: The Sword of Swords stolen by Fang breaks during his duel agaibst Lin, having been replaced by a convincing-looking replica sword.
  • Step into the Blinding Fight: When Lin Jen-shiau had to do battle with Fang Shi-shiung and the rest of his mooks. After being blinded.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: At the conclusion of the one-on-one duel between Lin and Fang, which ends with Lin winning and earning the Sword of Swords, Fang pretends to be a Graceful Loser, who concedes defeat and surrender the sword to Lin. It turns out the sword is a fake, Fang had stolen the real sword for himself.
  • Sword Fight: Inevitably, the film’s final showdown is between Fang Shi-shiung, armed with the titular sword, and Lin Jen-shiau with a pair of dual mini-swords. The latter wins.
  • Wacky Wayside Tribe: The dozen or so bandits slaughtered by Fang Shi-shiung in the valley battle early in the film, in his Villain Opening Scene, had NOTHING to do with the plot of the film, other than for Fang Shi-shiung to prove his power to his master (and the audience of course).
  • Would Hurt a Child: The innocent civilians abducted by Fang and his minions be used as meatshields in the final battle includes the little girl Lin befriended while blind. She ends up being one of the many victims accidentally hacked to death by Lin at the end.