Third Master, regarded the most powerful swordsman of the land, has grown tired of the bloodshed. After spreading rumours of his own death, he retires to a brothel where he slowly falls for a young courtesan. Often mistaken for Third Master, Yan’s only wish is to fight a duel against his idol. Meanwhile, Third Master’s former fiancée, a princes from a rival clan whom he abandoned on their wedding day, is determined to have her revenge.
Hong Kong legends Derek Yee and Tsui Hark join forces for an epic reimagining of a Shaw Brothers classic Death Duel which launched Yee’s acting career in 1977, adapted from Gu Long’s wuxia novel The Third Master’s Sword. A return to the golden age of the martial arts genre, steeped in all its ethereal romance and whimsical self-irony, but retold in mind-blowing 3D format.
“Nearly 40 years after Chor Yuen launched his acting career in the Shaw Brothers classic Death Duel, director Derek Yee returns to Gu Long’s source novel for a ravishing new adaptation. With Tsui Hark producing and action choreography from Yuen Bun and Dion Lin /…/ Sword Master is a passionate love letter to Chinese cinema’s most quintessential genre, but also a bold exploration into wuxia’s visual language. Sword Master is pioneering, experiential cinema, simultaneously steeped in decades of tradition and mythology, which must, as its hero learns, be embraced if it is ever to be overcome.”
– James Marsh, Screen Anarchy
“Stuffed with demon warriors, vamping concubines and overblown acrobatics /…/ this nostalgic nod to the Chinese magic-and-martial arts genre known as wuxia mixes love story and clan war with equal amounts of silliness and heart. /…/ Third Master might be a bit of a bore, but Mr. Yee surrounds him with so many surreal landscapes and witty action sequences – a combination of computers, wires and limber spines – that you’ll hardly notice. Jiang Mengjie is spunky and sweet as a prostitute with a magpie’s eye for gold and a connoisseur’s eye for Third Master. And Peter Ho plays it cool and a little crazy as a rival swordsman burdened by fate and – literally – his own tombstone. It’s Chiu-ti, however, who carries the weight of the movie’s Shakespearean emotions. ‘Your eyes are like misty rain,’ an admirer tells her, ‘hazy with grief.’ He should be paying more attention to that snake crawling from her bosom.”
– Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times