The Blade (film)

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Not to be confused with Blade (film).
The Blade
Mandarin Dāo
Cantonese Dou1
Directed by Tsui Hark
Produced by Tsui Hark
Raymond Chow
Written by Koan Hui
Tsui Hark
So Man-Sing
Starring Vincent Zhao
Moses Chan
Hung Yan-yan
Song Lei
Austin Wai
Chung Bik-ha
Valerie Chow
Music by Raymond Wong
William Hu
Cinematography Venus Keung
Edited by Tsui Hark
Kam Ma
Film Workshop
Paragon Films
Distributed by Golden Harvest
Release dates
  • 21 December 1995 (1995-12-21)
Running time
101 minutes
Country Hong Kong
Language Cantonese
Box office HK$3,308,775[1]

The Blade is a 1995 Hong Kong martial arts film co-written, produced and directed by Tsui Hark, starring Vincent Zhao, Moses Chan, Hung Yan-yan, Song Lei, Austin Wai, Chung Bik-ha, Valerie Chow and others. This film is notable for its unusual style which includes dramatic close-ups, employment of colour gels, frenetic camera use during the fight sequences and overall dark tone.


Ding-on is an orphaned swordsmith working in a factory, called "Sharp Foundry", run by his master, who is an old friend of his deceased father. The master's daughter, Ling, who narrates the film, is romantically interested in both Ding-on and his coworker, Iron Head.

One day, while Ding-on and Iron Head are out on an errand, they see a monk fending off a bunch of thugs, who later ambush and kill the monk in retaliation. Iron Head is so furious that he yells out the factory's name, swearing vengeance and taunting the thugs to fight him. The master is angry when he hears of Iron Head's reckless behaviour and he punishes the latter. Iron Head bears a grudge against Ding-on for the incident and he shows unhappiness when the master announces his decision to make Ding-on his successor.

Later that night, Ding-on overhears a conversation between Ling and her grandmother and learns that his father died while saving his master (Ling's father) from Flying Dragon, a notorious heavily tattooed assassin who is rumoured to be able to fly. Intent on seeking vengeance, Ding-on takes his father's broken sword (the titular Blade) and leaves the factory after bidding his master farewell. Ling tries to catch up with him but runs into trouble with the thugs who killed the monk earlier. Ding-on hears Ling's screams for help and returns to save her. He fights with the thugs but loses his right arm and ends up falling off a cliff. In the meantime, Iron Head and the other workers have shown up and they rescue Ling.

Ding-on is saved and nursed back to health by a farmer-girl called Blackie. Thinking that he is now useless, Ding-on abandons his hope for revenge, buries his father's sword, and tries to lead a normal life with Blackie. Concurrently, Ling and Iron Head set out to find Ding-on, whom they believe to be still alive. Throughout this period of time, Ling narrates her disillusionment with people and her ideals, becoming increasingly poignant after she sees Iron Head "saving" a prostitute whom he later takes advantage of.

Meanwhile, Ding-on endures ridicule for being a "cripple" while working in a restaurant, building up his frustration. One day, he spots a heavily tattooed man whom he believes to be his father's killer, but is unable to take revenge and he feels even more frustrated. To add on to his troubles, one night, a gang of bandits burn down his house and tie him upside-down and beat him mercilessly. Afterward, while searching for food within the wreckage, Blackie finds a singed martial arts manual hidden there by her parents. Ding-on is excited and tries to learn the techniques described in it, but cannot afford a good weapon so he ends up using his father's broken sword instead. Due to his injury and the book's incompleteness, Ding-on's efforts are futile initially, but, when driven to rage by his frustration, he suddenly makes a breakthrough, developing a devastating spinning technique allowing him to compensate for the lack of an arm and his broken weapon.

Ding-on kills the bandits who destroyed his house and he saves Ling on one occasion but does not reveal his identity to her. Around the same time, the employer of the bandits, an evil man called "Skeleton", recruits Flying Dragon to help him eliminate the Sharp Foundry and kill everyone inside, as well as kill Ding-on. A battle breaks out at the factory when Flying Dragon and his men show up. While his master is struggling to defend against Flying Dragon, Ding-on returns in the nick of time to save his master and he kills Flying Dragon after a long fight. Outnumbered and with Flying Dragon dead, Skeleton and his men are either run out of town or killed. Ding-on leaves with Blackie afterwards and after occasionally visiting Ling with Iron Head over the course of a few years, the two forget about her and turn their backs to the foundry forever. Before the film ends, an aged Ling imagines herself embracing Ding-on and returning to the happier days in the past.



In 2014, Time Out polled several film critics, directors, actors and stunt actors to list their top action films,[2] and The Blade was ranked 43rd on the list.[3]


  1. ^ "The Blade (1995)". Hong Kong Movie Database. Retrieved 28 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "The 100 best action movies". Time Out. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 
  3. ^ "The 100 best action movies: 50-41". Time Out. November 3, 2014. Retrieved November 7, 2014. 

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