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Swordsman III: The East Is Red 
Written by: on December 18th, 2005

Theatrical Release Date: Hong Kong, 1993
Directors: Ching Siu Tung, Raymond Lee
Cast: Brigitte Lin, Joey Wang, Eddy Ko, Yu Rong-guang

DVD released: 13th June 2003
Approximate running time: 97 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Rating: Category II
Sound: Dolby Digital/DTS 5.1 (Cantonese and Mandarin)
DVD Release: Mei Ah
Region Coding: Region 3 NTSC
Retail Price: HK$80

Asia the Invincible (Lin), the demon seemingly killed at the end of Swordsman II, has survived and is in hiding from the world. She is discovered by a government official, Koo (Rong-guang), who she chooses to kill by blocking his pressure points – a slow painless death. She hears from Koo that many have set themselves up as imitations of Asia the invincible and her Sun Moon sect. She resolves to rid the world of these impostors. A dying Koo resolves to stop her and finds her again fighting the ships of Snow, an impostor and former follower, the Japanese invaders and the Spanish colonialists. Sea battles and wire fu fights ensue will Asia be destroyed?

The third Swordsman film carries on from the wonderful Swordsman II where some semblance of a script was mixed with great fights with Jet Li and Brigitte Lin. The script for this sequel is not clever and the wire fu sequences never quite reach the heights or beauty of the previous film. But Lin is an incredible presence and her conviction in her performance sweeps aside the strange changes of mind and character that proliferate throughout The East is Red.

The supporting cast is less starry and Wang is merely looking lovelorn and pretty rather than acting. There are some good moments, one where Lin takes on a large Japanese soldier only to prove that the huge armour hides a dwarf. The sea bound battles throw up budgetary restraints and a shedload of confusion, the mise en scene fails miserably in these scenes. This film tries to keep what made its predecessor work with similar vibrant photography and wild imaginative fights, but it fails in the sea fights despite some winning images.

Nowhere near as good as the second part, but fun for Brigitte Lin fans.

The DVD:

The transfer here is very acceptable but the print isn’t outstanding with lots of hairs and damage to the bottom of the frame apparent throughout. The look of the film is slightly grainy and this removes some of the warmth of the cinematography.

The audio tracks are well created although the centre channel seems a little quiet to me, the separation of sound is excellent though and the DTS track is a standout. The drawback of this release is the subtitles. They are awful, the English is neither accurate nor followable at times and this means that an already ropey plot becomes harder to understand. Little else on the disc other than a trailer. This release can be bettered big style.

Not an essential purchase, save your money for Swordsman II, but a new release with better English subs might be worth a reappraisal.

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