Seven Swords

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Seven Swords
Seven Swords Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical poster
Traditional 七劍
Simplified 七剑
Mandarin Qī Jiàn
Cantonese Cat1 Gim3
Directed by Tsui Hark
Produced by Tsui Hark
Ma Zhongjun
Lee Joo-ick
Pan Zhizhong
Screenplay by Tsui Hark
Cheung Chi-sing
Chun Tin-nam
Story by Liang Yusheng
Starring Donnie Yen
Leon Lai
Charlie Yeung
Sun Honglei
Lu Yi
Kim So-yeon
Music by Kenji Kawai
Cinematography Keung Kwok-man
Herman Yau
Choi Shung-fai
Edited by Angie Lam
Film Workshop
Distributed by Mandarin Films Distribution Co. Ltd.
Eng Wah Cinema
The Weinstein Company
Tokyo Shock
Release date(s)
  • 29 July 2005 (2005-07-29)
Running time 153 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Mandarin
Budget US$18,000,000[citation needed]

Seven Swords is a 2005 Hong Kong wuxia film produced and directed by Tsui Hark, starring Donnie Yen, Leon Lai, Charlie Yeung, Sun Honglei, Lu Yi and Kim So-yeon. The story is loosely adapted from the novel Qijian Xia Tianshan by Liang Yusheng. However, except for some characters' names, the film is completely unrelated to the novel. Seven Swords was used as the opening film to the 2005 Venice Film Festival and as a homage to Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954).


In the mid-17th century, the Manchus take over the sovereignty of China and establish the Qing dynasty. While nationalistic sentiments start brewing within the jianghu (martial artists' community), the Qing government immediately imposes a ban forbidding the common people from practising martial arts. The warlord Fire-Wind sees the new law as an opportunity for himself to make a fortune and he offers to help the government execute the new rule. Greedy, cruel and immoral, Fire-Wind ravages northwest China with his army, killing thousands of fighters as well as innocent civilians. His next goal is to attack Martial Village, which houses a large number of martial artists.

Fu Qingzhu, a retired executioner who served the government in the previous Ming dynasty, feels an urge to stop Fire-Wind's brutality, and he sets forth to save Martial Village. He brings with him two young villagers, Han Zhibang and Wu Yuanying, to Mount Heaven to seek help from Master Shadow-Glow, a reclusive swordsman and sword-forger. Shadow-Glow allows his four students (Chu Zhaonan, Yang Yuncong, Xin Longzi and Mulang) to accompany the trio on their quest. He also gives each of them a special sword he forged, and the seven of them title themselves "Seven Swords". The Seven Swords return to Martial Village in the nick of time and succeed in defeating and driving away Fire-Wind's soldiers. In order to buy time for the villagers to prepare for an evacuation, the Seven Swords advance to Fire-Wind's base and cause damages by burning their barn and poisoning their horse. During the raid, Chu Zhaonan encounters Fire-Wind's Korean slave girl, Green Pearl, and brings her along as they make their escape.

As the party makes its exodus, strange things start happening along the way. Their food and water supplies are mysteriously poisoned, and their trail is marked by signs leading the enemy to them. The Seven Swords realise that there is a spy among them and understand that they must eliminate him/her before Fire-Wind catches up. Green Pearl immediately becomes a suspect because she does not speak their language. The situation is further complicated by a romantic affair between Chu Zhaonan and Green Pearl. Once, Green Pearl leads Chu into a trap unintentionally and manages to escape despite suffering serious injuries. In a bid to save Green Pearl from a net cast by Fire Wind, Chu throws his sword into the air to free Green Pearl. In return, the sword is seized by Fire Wind and Chu is captured. Green Pearl manages to convey the message to the other swordsmen before she dies.

The other six swordsmen travel to Fire-Wind's base and engage him in a fierce battle to rescue Chu Zhaonan. During the Swords' absence, the spy, Qiu Dongluo, set fire to the entrance to the cave to inform the Qing officials of the villagers' whereabouts and thus revealing his identity and begins killing the unsuspecting villagers systematically. He is discovered by the village chief's daughter, Liu Yufang, and eventually killed by her. However, Liu is traumatised by the experience and turns hysterical. Meanwhile, the Seven Swords defeat and slay Fire-Wind, forcing his army to retreat temporarily. The swordsmen return to the hideout, only to find that all the villagers have been killed, except for Liu Yufang and the children. Han Zhibang calms Liu down and decides to stay behind and protect the survivors. The Seven Swords realise that the only way to save the jianghu is to persuade the emperor to withdraw the Martial Arts Ban. Liu tells Han that she can take care of the survivors and Han rides away to join his comrades as they travel towards the capital city.


  • Donnie Yen as Chu Zhaonan, wielder of the Dragon
  • Leon Lai as Yang Yuncong, wielder of the Transience
  • Lau Kar-leung as Fu Qingzhu, wielder of the Unlearnt
  • Charlie Yeung as Wu Yuanying, wielder of the Heaven's Fall
  • Lu Yi as Han Zhibang, wielder of the Deity
  • Duncan Chow as Mulang, wielder of the Celestial Beam
  • Tai Li-wu as Xin Longzi, wielder of the Star Chasers
  • Sun Honglei as Fire-Wind, a warlord
  • Kim So-yeon as Green Pearl, Fire-Wind's Korean slave girl
  • Zhang Jingchu as Liu Yufang, Liu Jingyi's daughter and Han Zhibang's lover
  • Ma Jingwu as Shadow-Glow, a reclusive swordsman and sword forger
  • Michael Wong as Prince Dokado, a Manchu noble
  • Jason Pai as Liu Jingyi, the village chief
  • Chi Kuan-chun as Qiu Dongluo, the traitor
  • Huang Peng as Guan Sandao, a villager
  • Zhang Chao as Zhang Huazhao, a villager
  • Chen Jiajia as Kualo, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Liu Mingzhe as Jiaoci, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Li Haitao as Siyilang, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Jiang Guangjin as Sanzi, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Xie Zhang as Bald Lion, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Wang Chi-man as Dagger Peak, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Zhang Jie as Hair Wolf, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Tang Tengfei as Stone Beast, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Liu Zhenbao as Mud Trot, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Lin Haibin as Sangen, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Guo Fengqiang as Black Spirit, Fire-Wind's follower
  • Jia Kun as Bangmuzi, Fire-Wind's follower


Seven Swords received generally negative reviews. It holds a 27% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 15 reviews.[1]


The film was the first of a planned six part film franchise.

During the shooting of the ending finale fight, Donnie Yen accidentally injured Sun Honglei near the corner of his eye after mistakenly thinking that Sun was trained in martial arts. Sun was rushed from Xinjiang to a hospital in Beijing on the night of 7 December. Sun immediately returned to the set a day later, insisting on finishing his scenes, and his eyesight was not affected.


The role of Chu Zhaonan was in fact offered to Korean actor Song Seung-heon with a reported pay of US$400,000 (It is unknown whether Donnie Yen was paid this amount for the role). Both Song Seung-heon and Leon Lai (who was given the role of Yang Yuncong due to his performance in The Sword of Many Lovers and Tsui Hark said that he was "hoping to see another side of him (Leon Lai)") trained in horseback riding and swordplay for their respective roles but Song dropped out near the start of the filming period in order to work on other projects. Yen was offered the role of Chu Chaonan after Song dropped out, and Yen, after "understanding the gravity" of the situation, took up the role without hesitation.

Lu Yi has said once that he will never do a wuxia / martial arts project ever again but when he was offered the role of Han Zhibang he immediately took it up due to the all-star cast tied to the project and that he will probably never get another chance to work with such a strong cast ever again.

The role of Prince Dokado was at first offered to Hu Jun but was turned down for some unknown reason, and was later offered to Wang Xueqi but he apparently also turned it down as well and it eventually went to Michael Wong.

Li Yuan auditioned for a role as one of the Seven Swords and was even picked by Tsui Hark himself but owing to some commercial reasons, the role was given to a more prominent actor instead.


The production manager and scriptwriter of Seven Swords, Cheung Chi-sing, revealed that the initial cut made by Angie Lam was four hours long. However, the distributors were worried that such a lengthy running time would limit screening arrangements and affect box office performance, so Tsui Hark re-edited it to two versions - 150 minutes and 120 minutes. Finding the 120 minutes version suffering from underdeveloped relationships, the investors opted for the 150 minutes (2.5 hours) version for the theatrical run.


Tsui Hark intended Seven Swords to be a hexalogy, however the prospects for the second instalment have not come to fruition. In 2008, Tsui was known to be still developing the script for the sequel in between production and/or direction of other projects; the actual release and production for the sequel had yet to officially be announced. It is believed that Tsui is completing scripts for both the second and third instalments of the film to complete the hexalogy in successive development and production.

As of 2011, there has been no news of Seven Swords at all, and there is speculation that it would not be completed as planned. The last known news about the film was in its pre-production phase between 2007-2008, yet neither Tsui Hark nor anyone attached to the film made any statement of commitment to the planned hexalogy for about 3–4 years. While unconfirmed, it is believed the film has been stalled or quietly scrapped due to lack of interest in completing the story.

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