A young woman is entrusted with a powerful sword, the missing half of weapon deemed to give incredible power once reunited. As she makes her way to the sword’s resting place, she is chased by those looking to take the power away from her people.
Directed by Zhang Yingli, this period piece is one that is crafted with care and a lot of attention to details (stick around through the credits to see some of the VFX pre/post comparisons). The film does have a fairly predictable story, but the outcome is not the main thing here. The main thing here is how they get there. This is a sword and adventure film, a bit of a drama with a lot of action. The action is really well done with some interesting fights, some exciting moments, and lots of good stuff in-between. This is what fans of the genre will be coming for and this is exactly what the film brings to the table.
The cast here is fun to watch with Yilin Hao as the young woman, giving a performance that works for the material and giving the viewer a young girl who is in danger, but not completely without resources on her own. She’s a tough one and she has some of her own skills. Playing the young man who gets paired up with her for her journey is Feng-bin Mou who puts a lot of physicality in his work here and gives the kind of performance that makes him a sort of reluctant hero. He’s clearly talented as an actor and as sword performer (or that editing was really on point if he had a stunt double for all that swordplay and those stunts). He makes the film fun to watch and brings a great energy to it all. The rest of the cast works quite well here too, adding some fun into the proceeding and a bit of evil here and there.
The film’s cinematography is a strong element here with images that are just stunning, some of them clearly enhanced in post, some as they were shot, and some that are enhanced with VFX that just works fantastic. To see some of these in before and after, stick around during the credits where they show how some of the great colors were brought into play and how some of the already lovely cinematography pop here and there. The film here is shot and edited carefully with talent and a clear vision.
The Emperor’s Sword is a fun watch and a good sword and adventure movie. It’s got a bit of everything, drama, martial arts, swords, great costume, great cinematography, and a story that is fun to watch even if a bit predictable.