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The Idiot Swordsman
cast: Lieh Lo, Hua Yueh

director: Chang Lei-tsei

91 minutes (15) 1979
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Prism Leisure 55th Chamber DVD Region 0 retail

RATING: 6/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon
Three years ago, a mysterious swordsman with something of a drink problem appeared, tackled evil wherever he found it - and then disappeared again, still nameless and unexplained. Now he's suddenly back, even less capable of holding his drink, and apparently bemused by his fame. When he stands up against a local gang leader, he finds himself the unwilling leader of a popular revolution against oppression - and requires a young apprentice who claims to know no kung fu, but quite obviously has a secret...

Which, let's face it, you've probably guessed even from reading that short plot summary. The Idiot Swordsman (aka: Drunken Swordsman) isn't a hard movie to figure out, but its exploration of the nature of fame, and how easily people place their faith in a hero, is a lot of fun all the same. The characters are simple but likable, and the bad guys suitably villainous. There's plenty of action, a very discreet love interest, a smattering of comedy and the amusement of being one step ahead of most of the characters.

There may not be very much to distinguish The Idiot Swordsman from the thousand and one other period kung fu movies, and the clunky dubbed dialogue can be unintentionally hilarious, but it's mostly agreeable, good-natured, and easy to follow fun. Solid rather than spectacular, but perfectly enjoyable if you like that sort of thing.

DVD extras: trailer, trailer reel, and web links.

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