Synopsis by Nathan Southern
Tsui Hark (The Blade) adapted his massive martial arts epic Seven Swords (AKA Qi Jian) from Liang yu-Sheng's popular novel Seven Swordsmen from Mount Tian. The story opens in the 1660s, following the implementation of China's (Manchu) Qing dynasty. To quell possible nationalist uprisings, the emperor issues a decree forbidding the use of martial arts, and guarantees decapitation for anyone who violates that order. A class of bounty hunters quickly formed to enforce the law and collect 600 pieces of silver for each violator; the most massive and domineering of the warriors is the bald, muscular Fire-Wind (Sun Honglei), a bellicose and volatile creature who lives in an elephantine tentlike dwelling on a hill. This walking terror selects Martial Village, a hamlet in northwestern China, as his next assignment. Meanwhile, in Martial, two young adults, Wu Yuanyin (Charlie Young) and her ex-beau, Han Zhibang) rescue an old executioner, Fu Qingzhu (Lau Kar-leung) who foresees the coming wrath and acknowledges the necessity of pulling in the mythical 'Warriors of Mt. Tian' to fight Fire-Wind and his cronies. The four warriors summoned by Fu include Chu Zhaonan (Donnie Yen), and Yang Yunchong (Leon Lai), who dramatically increase the tension and bloodshed when the former develops a crush on one of Fire-wind's hostages, Green Pearl (Kim So-yeon) and decides to kidnap her - sending Fire-wind through the roof. The critically-worshipped Hark reportedly cut two versions of this film (including a 2 1/2 hour cut and a 3-hour cut) and demonstrated incredible confidence in Qi Jian by planning it as the initial installment in a massive series of multimedia sequels, including a 74-part television series, an online video game, comics, and five additional films. The picture itself testifies to this, with the setup for a sophomore installment in its conclusion. Qi Jian, however, did lackluster box office when it opened in the Far East in July 2005, making the follow-ups less than certain.
bounty-hunter, hostage, warrior