How was I born? – Seven Swords

Heya peeps! Alice here. Time for another peek into the favourite things of my heart.

So, in each installment of “How was I born?” I’m gonna introduce y’all a piece of fiction that has a special place in my heart – a piece of fiction that made me who I am. Today it’s a film: Tsui Hark’s Seven Swords (2005).

Seven Swords tells the story of seven magic swords, their wielders, and how they fight villains. Each of the swords is funky in an over-the-top way (like the “two-bladed” sword), and all of the villains are painted white, dressing in black leather and spikes. During its most coherent moments, the plot is still a jumble, and the characters try to display grand emotions while falling, mostly, flat. Soo… yeah. Seven Swords is not really a great film.

Why did I pick it, then? Well… I’m not sure. I’ve got a soft spot for Chinese films, particularly wuxia, but there are tons better than Seven Swords. Why this film, oh, why?

I think because, ultimately, it’s like a showcase of the things that made me first fall in love with wuxia, back when I saw A Chinese Ghost Story. I was fourteen, maybe? To me, that stuff was just wild: everybody was flying, swords were spinning faster than I could comprehend, blue light flooded the forest, there were demon trees, Taoist magic, and crazy old geezers doing spins and kicks. Like… whaaat… and… woooow.

Seven Swords is full of that stuff. Say what you will, its direction and cinematography are jammed with the most garish and striking scenes and images. It’s so over-the-top and unapologetic that I’m like, “Okay, film, you got me there, you’ve got the eggs.”

I don’t really know what it says about me that I like this kind of film. I mean, okay, I love fantasy, and wuxia films are fantastical to a bizarre degree. And I guess that’s a part of it. The bizarreness.

I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but it feels like nowadays people are churning out fantasy that’s firmly rooted in reality. I mean, realistic, gritty fairy-tale retellings? Yup. Fantasy protagonists burdened with everyday affairs? Yup. Heroes with psychologically appropriate responses to violence? Yup.

Don’t take me wrong, nothing bad in that by itself. It’s just that maybe I’ve had too much, and I want something else.

Something like Seven Swords. Y’know, fantasy that doesn’t pretend any connections to any world except its own land of make-believe magic and make-believe emotions. Like, instead of, “Emma felt the pangs of regret as she let the dead daisy slide from her soot-smeared palm. Had she unwittingly become an agent of this ecological destruction?” I’m looking for, “OOH, I’m so hungry Imma eat the WORLD! And I can grow spikes from my hands! SWISH SWISH SWISH! Oh HI MOM! You’ll be my bride, and give birth to my DAUGHTER, WHO IS ALSO MY SISTER! I’ll teach her my DRAGON MAGIC!”

So, yeah. Psychological realism is all cool, folks. But it’s not the be-all and end-all of writing. Humans aren’t psychologically realistic either, after all.

All they are is psychologically real.

(Or maybe just psycho, and real.)


Fun fact: when writing this post, every time I wrote “Seven Swords” I tried to misspell it as “Sven Swords”. So, HÄR KOMMER JAG MED SVÄÄÄRDET, HAI-YAH!

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