review by Jerome

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Yet another good Special Effect Flick...
Lord Conquer (Sonny Chiba) seeks to be the most powerful clan leader in all of China by challenging all who get in his path. A collector of famous swords such as the fire unicorn, he sets out to gather the four famous weapons, three swords and one blade. Until one day it is prophesised by Mud Buddha (Wayne Lai) that Conquer will have two students Wind (Ekin Cheng) and Cloud (Aaron Kwok) that will help him prosper. "The Golden Scales of a fish shall transform into a dragon when Wind and Cloud meet... Wind is formless and Cloud is reckless."

Ekin Cheng’s Whispering Wind is tormented by the loss of his mother to Lord Conquer after the first duel with Whispering Prince (Alex Fong) for possession of the blizzard blade. Years later, Whispering Prince meets yet again with Conquer to duel for the return of his wife and possession of the blizzard blade. Whispering Prince requests that in the event he loses his life in the duel for Conquer to raise Wind as his own. While watching his father’s duel with Conquer at the Cirrus Cave, the young Wind faints after seeing the Fire Beast attack his father.

Aaron Kwok’s Striding Cloud is almost dehumanised at the site of his father, Striding Sky’s death at the hands of Conquer’s soldiers when they destroy his village and attempt to find his father’s ‘life’s best work’ sword. This is evident later on when the adult Cloud is sent on a mission to retrieve the Unchallenged Sword from Duk Gu Yat Fong (Frankie Ng) and slaughter the inhabitants from Unchallenged City.

Kristy Yeung’s Charity is naive in her feelings towards Wind and Cloud. She is Conquer’s pawn in drawing out the tension between both Wind and Cloud. She loves one of them but enjoys the company of the other. 10 years pass and the prophecy is lived but another prophecy foretells Conquer's downfall at the hands of his pupils. "Although the dragon is powerful, Wind and Cloud shall unite and create a storm... Wind and Cloud shall make you and break you". In light of the second prophecy, Conquer sets his servants to kill both of them. Conquer sets his daughter, Charity off to be married to Wind. To the disliking of Cloud, he storms into the wedding ceremony taking back his lover. Conquer hopes that this will lead to both Wind and Cloud killing each other, and when the opportunity comes, he almost succeeds in killing them both but his daughter interferes and she becomes deceased.

Depressed and saddened Cloud takes Charity's body to be buried and Wind becomes a drunkard. After his failed attempt Conquer traces Cloud back to a mausoleum demanding the body of his daughter be returned to him. Out of his undying lover for her, Cloud fights Conquer only to lose an arm. Injured and almost dying he is rescued by Muse (Shu Qi) and Summit Yu (Vincent Wan), herbalists who give him the Fire Beast Arm to exact his revenge. Wind is sent on a mission to retrieve Bodhi fruit from Cirrus cave with two of Conquer’s minions, only to be poisoned. Within the cave, he confronts the Fire Beast that took his father’s life as well as using his father’s blizzard blade.

Frost (Michael Tse) is Conquer’s Son and heir to Conquer’s Clan but is manipulated the same way as his other martial arts brethren. Upon finding out the truth from Mud Buddha of how Wind and Clouds parents died, he confronts Conquer and in the fight, loses his life.

Roy Cheung's monk Sik Mou Juen is the Shaolin Guardian of fire monkey. His role is quite small and the only heroic character he’s ever played. He also acts as a man of justice when Duk Gu Ming (Jason Chu)’s father Duk Gu Yat Fong is slain. Duk Gu Ming seeks out his uncle the Sword Saint (Anthony Wong) to help get revenge on Conquer for his deception and theft of the Unchallenged Sword. The Sword Saint’s ten year delayed duel with Conquer results in unexpected defeat.

The action packed finale has Wind and Cloud uniting to take on Conquer. The amazing special effects and soundtrack in the Sword Graveyard are haunting and dazzling.

Despite it being fantasy wu xia, it did have elements of love, revenge and despair, and by all means it follows the wu xia themes perfectly. Kristy Yeung’s performance is one of great despair and stands out to add more depth to the heroes’ loss. A perfect blend of wu xia themes but what it lacks for in martial arts is made up for in special effects.

I rate it 8.5/10

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Genre: Swordplay / Fantasy
Director: Director: Andrew Lau
Cast: Lawrence Cheng, Ekin Cheng, Yue-Tong Cheung, Roy Cheung, Alex Fong, Jason Chu, Aaron Kwok, Chi Hsu, Deon Lam, Yiu-Jeung Lai, Siu-Kei Lee, Dat-Chui Lee
Reviewed by Jerome (Bart Simpson), October 2005