Seven Swords / Chat gim
(Tsui Hark, Hong Kong, 144 mins.)
Please forgive me for (temporarily) abandoning the standard review format, but this mind-numbing battle extravaganza drove me too crazy to spend any more time thinking or writing about it than absolutely necessary--I've never yawned or checked my watch more frequently over the course of 144 endless minutes--so I offer instead a list of grades and one statistic.
Costume Design: B+
Set Design: B
Character Development: F
It took me way too long to figure out who was who and why I should care. By the time I had everyone sorted out, it was too late. Feisty females Wu Yuan Yin (Charlie Yeung) and Green Pearl (the beautiful Kim So-yeon, above) had the makings of interesting characters, but the director failed them both. Seven Swords looks great and Tsui Hark (Once Upon a Time in China) is an action movie legend, so I feel like a heel for complaining, but two dozen fight scenes strung together, no matter how carefully executed or artfully composed, does not a movie make.
Nine walkouts, if you count the guy who left just before the end. Most appeared to be 50 or older (five women to four men). That's the most of any press screening I've attended, but I'll be sure to check back the minute the record is broken.
On the off-chance you're looking for a non-narcotic alternative to Lunesta, Hark has reportedly cut a three-hour version.
Neptune: 6/9 at 9:30pm and 6/11 at 3:45pm.