Swordsman II (HK 1992)

Rating: ***
Producer: Tsui Hark
Director: Ching Siu Tung
Cast: Jet Li, Brigitte Lin, Michelle Reis, Rosamund Kwan, Waise Lee, Fennie Yuen

A sometimes plodding fantasy swordplay epic with Jet Li (replacing Sam Hui) as a drunkard swordsman, Brigitte Lin as "Asia The Invincible," Michelle Reis (replacing Cecilia Yip) as a tomboy swordswoman, Rosamund Kwan (replacing Cheung Man) with a whip, and Waise Lee as a Japanese warrior. It picks up right where "Swordsman" (1990) left off with lots of super-fu, hopping, flying, magical stances, and supernatural stuff, but the film never comes together. Even charismatic Jet Li is unremarkable for the most part. This film also marks Brigitte Lin's bizarre and controversial transformation from a man to a woman as he/she fully becomes "Asia The Invincible." Contains some rather grim imagery (people exploding, Master Wu hung by his collarbone on giant hooks, Jet Li burying his slain comrades in the rain, Brigitte Lin exploding blood from her chest and Master Wu receiving it, etc.) and is unusually cruel in the animal treatment category (snakes, scorpions, birds, rats, and rabbits are all dealt with rather unfriendly). Watch "East Is Red" (1993) instead - the summary of "Swordsman II" in the beginning of the film highlights all of cool stuff that happened.