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Review Bastard Swordsman a.k.a.Tian can bian (1983): Silkworm Technique rules!

genre: martial arts, wuxia

Before I start with the review, I have to state that I was totally surprised by the level of quality this film displays on the screen. Especially considering the time this has been made. I already wasn't that impressed with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but Bastard Swordsman who unfortunately will never get the worldwide recognition it deserves, is vastly superior and far less pretentious.

Our main character, Yun Fei Yang, (played by Norman Chu) is severely disadvantaged simply because he is the product of a love affair and never recognized by his real father. Nobody knows who the real father is, but it never astonishes me how people look down on somebody while he himself can't do anything about it. I mean, he gets judged on his father deeds. I will never ever understand this. Anyway, our main character is not being offered the same opportunities in the martial arts school, while arguably he seems to be the most skilled. At one point we find out he receives training by a masked man. Now, it's very obvious he is the master. But for some reason, he doesn't want his pupil to know. Is he trying to protect him from certain dangers ahead? Or is he too ashamed or even too proud to confess this to his son? The film tries real hard to keep his secret identity, probably to juice up the story. But it's not that vital since very little is done with this.

Then there is another fighter in the clan, Fu Yu Shu, (Tony Liu) who people love from the start. From how I had perceived this, he was an outsider. And obviously is too good to be true. It is utterly baffling why this guy is met with such high regard, as his intentions are completely nefarious. They can't even bare to look at Yun Fei Yang. Even Lun Wan (Leanne Lau), the sister, who at first stuck up for Yun Fei Yang is disgusted with him after she finds out that he is in love with her. It turns out that she wants to marry Fu Yu Shu and make babies with him alone. The fact that other, better men, want her hand in marriage is beyond her.

I won't spoil the plot any further, but even if I wanted to, there is too much to cover since quite a lot is happening. It's not really that important because the focus of course lies completely on the combat, which you can expect from the Shaw brothers is excellent. Actually, if I think about it. It's quite insane. I always had this idea that earlier Hong Kong productions were more grounded and level-headed. It seems I was totally wrong on this notion, and this film exposes that truth. Next to the more traditional hand-to-hand combat, the fighters in this film also resort to ultra special skills which have to be seen to believe.

A must-watch if you ask me, and even today is a total blast from start to finish!

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