BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN, THE
The journey of a mystical blade as it passes through the hands of three ambitious men ... as the interwoven story unfolds, they find that the blade possesses the power to dramatically change the fate of each of its owners. The Butcher (Liu Xiaoye) is a simple man in love with a beautiful courtesan, but is rebuffed each time he approaches her. The Chef (Masanobu Ando) is a handsome loner obsessed with seeking vengeance for the slaughter of his family. The Swordsman (Swanson Han), the son of a legendary warrior, is consumed by the desire to eclipse his father in both power and fame. Their stories come full circle as each man takes possession of the mystical blade and discovers its double edge - the great power it bestows is matched by even greater danger.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Likeable crazy, combined with visual stylistics and driven by a sense of humour, this madcap Chinese martial arts frolic has everything, even snatches of the big, melancholy aria from Puccini's opera Tosca as well as a bit of the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Actually, martials arts is not really the genre of this action comedy peppered with dramatic highlights, set in ancient China, made with music video sensibilities.
I especially like the scene where a really good bowl of shrimp soup turns into a real music video, complete with superimposed graphics. There's a lot to be said for good soup ...especially one made in the blink of an eye so the fish is still alive and doesn't even know it is in it. You'll also learn an energetic way to slice vegetables with a very sharp knife, among other kitchen tricks - all to some wild music.
A dramatic flashback realised in animation (to Ave Maria) and a multi screen dinner presentation all add to the multiplicity of tones and textures, as the three stories circle each other. I suppose this is what we could call audacious Asian fusion cinema.
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BUTCHER, THE CHEF AND THE SWORDSMAN, THE (M)
Dao Jian Xiao
CAST: Masanobu Ando, You Benchang, Ashton Xu, Kitty Zhang, Liu Xiaoye, Swanson Han,
PRODUCER: Tang Xiru
SCRIPT: Wuershan, Zhang Jiajia, Ma Luoshan, Tang Que (short story by An Changhe)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Tywoniuk
EDITOR: Huang Zhe
MUSIC: Gong Geer, Dead J. Miquia
RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: China Lion
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 17, 2011
RIVERSIDE SCREEN PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 6 consecutive Tuesdays, starts February 17, 2015 at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.