Hong Kong Cinema

Swordsman 2

(Laughing and Proud Warrior 2: Invincible Asia)

  • Made: 1992
  • Format: DVD
  • Region: 0
  • Release Date: 24/10/2000
  • Company: Tai Seng
  • Length: 108 minutes
  • Picture: Widescreen
  • Language: English Subtitles
  • Extras: Data Bank + Plot Synopsis
  • Classification: Cat II


Ching Siu Tung


Jet Li, Brigitte Lin, Rosamud Kwan, Michelle Reis, Fannie Yuen, Yen Shi-Kwan, Lau Shun, Waise Lee, Candice Yu

Swordsman II, is one of those few films that is universally regarded as a superior sequel. Remarkably, it has none of the actors from the original apart from Fennie Yuen (Blue Phoenix) plus producer, Tsui Hark seems to have kept faith in much of his cast from Once Upon A Time in China (OUATIC) . It stars Jet Li at the height of his fame in the early 90's, one year after completing the seminal piece, OUATIC. This film took HK $34,462,000 during a five week run, and actually outperformed all the OUATIC series, both Fong Sai Yuk films, Tai Chi Master, Kung Fu Cult Master and Fist of Legend!!

The lead heroine / bad guy (I'll explain soon!) is played by Hong Kong veteran Brigitte Lin (Zu, Peking Opera Blues) and the remaining female support is capably offered by Rosamund Kwan (Armour of God and OUATIC) and Michelle Reis (Kid from Tibet and Fong Sai Yuk). The other notable cast inclusion, is Yen Shi-Kwan, who plays the powerful Sun Moon Sect leader, Wu. Yen Shi-Kwan, had just performed the legendary ladder fight with Jet Li in OUATIC, and had previous experience with Jackie in the late 70's with Dragon Fist (crippled master) and Fearless Hyena.


Jet and Michelle Reis realise something is wrong!

Dark and atmospheric fighting

Invincible Asia goes swimming


Wu is an angry man


I'm not sure whether I should include a plot section in the review of this film. I have never been so confused by a film's storyline before in my life! Were it not for the fact that I was constantly dazzled by the effects and fighting in this movie, I would have been a very disgruntled man. This is my 'interpretation' of the plot: The leader of the Sun Moon Sect has been usurped by Dawn (Brigitte Lin - nominated Best Actress for her role), who jails the previous leader, Wu. Dawn was a man, but then read the Sacred Scroll became invincible and more and more feminine, oh. ... and before I forget she / he can speak without opening her mouth. She is called the Master Asia in Cantonese, plus it is worth noting the film's literal title is Laughing and Proud Warrior 2: Invincible Asia.

Jet plays Ling who is on the verge of retiring to Ox mountain with his Wah sect comrades. First he pays a visit to Ying (Kwan) only to find out about Dawn's treachery. Jet then falls in love with Dawn but later helps Wu escape so he can reclaim his seat of power. This is a weird role for Jet, and he ranges from the philosophical and learned, to the one dimensional drunk womaniser. However, he plays it with verve, and is entirely likeable. There is also the small subplot that Jet has three girls after him, Kwan, Lin and Reis, the latter playing Kiddo, who is a companion with a crush on him. No more shall be said about this bizarre plot and I can only recommend sitting back and enjoying the ride, and whatever you do, do not pay too much attention to the storyline.


This is the section I am most eager to write. The action, camera work, choreography, weaponry, costume and scenery are absolutely outstanding in this movie. It managed to win Best Costume at the 1992 HK film awards. Furthermore, the plot issues are softened by the film's keen sense of mood and atmosphere which gives a general comprehension to most scenes. The major problem this DVD has is the subtitles being really poor English which is mildly annoying. However, to give a taste of the action in this movie, there are flying ninjas, Master Wu's Essence Absorbing Technique, flying swords, the embroidery technique and a girl who can shoot retractable snakes from her sleeves (Fennie Yen playing Ying's assistant; Blue Phoenix). The action and style of this film is absolutely breathtaking and it remains clear why such high esteem is held for Swordsman II by both critics and fans alike.

There are many Kung Fu fans that are averse to wire Kung Fu, and this is one of Jet's most wire 'heavy' films. I think it works brilliantly in this film is because it does not use wires to enhance the action but rather it dominates the action! People fly, and make 40 ft leaps and can run on the tips of long grass. This film is not trying to exaggerate reality, it is offering a magical reality completely different from what we understand. This stands out from similar offerings because it works so well, you will be hard pushed not to enjoy the wire filled fun. In some scenes there are eight people leaping about in the same shot and the dynamic cinema really shines through in Ching Sui-Tung's directing (Chinese Ghost Story, Dr Wai). He was nominated for Best Art Direction for his mesmerising work in this film.

It also needs to be noted that so many of these fight scenes are filmed outdoors, which clearly increases the difficulty of using wires and special effects. There are so many spectacular moments where trees explode, parts of buildings are blown to pieces and people suddenly leap out from underneath the ground. What is further pleasing, is that so many people get to fight in this movie, the weapons work is tremendous and many people threaten to even outshine Jet's virtuoso performance (Jet mainly uses the sword). Rosamund Kwan seems pretty well acquainted with using the whip as well! The only down-point to the visual side of the film is in the very brief elements of computer added special effects, for they really look poor and are completely unnecessary in most places. However these low points account for less than 1% of the film's action.


The Region 0 disc is what you would expect. It has nine subtitle languages and both a Cantonese and Mandarin language track. The letterboxed print is adequate, but the picture is not in exceptional quality for such a recent film. Dolby digital 2.0 is a nice touch, but the extras are poor. You are offered a Trailer for Treasure Hunt and the Data Bank contains the Plot Synopsis (as found on the DVD cover), and a cast list (that must have taken them a good 3 months to compile)!


There is good reason as to why this is Jet's biggest grossing HK movie, it has a certain mystical and fantastical edge that few others can match. The wires are used superbly with some outlandish weapon choreography and dazzling concepts. The main drawbacks lie in the plot obscurities, cheap (although infrequent) computer effects, troublesome subtitles and arguably there is a bit too much singing! It is certainly worth trying to track down the original Swordsman movie, as it helps explain the history between the characters. But if you have seen some wire Kung Fu, and / or some Jet Li and you want to see it pushed to the very extremes of the medium by its most accomplished exponent, this is one to watch.



Read Swordsman review



The good guys make a final stand

Nice looking disc, but low on extras