(Shaw Brothers) Return of the Sentimental Swordsman
After etching his vision of Gu Long's popular novel on the public consciousness in the hugely successful 'The Sentimental Swordsman', Chu Yuan inevitably returned with this star-studded sequel, reuniting with Ti Lung once again. Our eponymous hero is this time faced with even more colourful and duplicitous rivals, each with their own desperate desire to rule the martial world.Having fended off the 'Plum Blossom Bandit', heroic, yet melancholy swordsman Li goes into hiding for a few years while his loyal ally Fei (Yee) decides to settle down. This relative peace is shattered when the dreaded 'Money Clan' set their sights on ruling the martial world and see Li as a potential obstacle. To alleviate themselves of this impediment, the clan decide to call on the services of a fearsome swordsman (Fu Sheng) who is also eager to cement his reputation throughout the country. While Li battles his inner demons and his new enemies, Fei is turned every which way but loose by a ruthless seductress who is secretly at the servitude of the 'Money Clan'. Initially, 'Return Of The Sentimental Swordsman' seems to be going through the motions. The scenarios penned by Gu Long and brought to the screen by Chu Yuan have a ring of familiarity about them that seasoned viewers will immediately identify: the hero is challenged, succeeds, moves on, is then challenged again etc. These plot-devices are part-and-parcel of this particular sub-genre and are in danger of becoming stale before the film progresses much further. Sure enough, 'Return Of The Sentimental Swordsman' drags itself through the first twenty minutes, throwing our hero into rather uninspired situations. It is then, though, that Chu Yuan begins to dig beneath the text and open up the underbelly of the martial world.