Tsui Hark (Once Upon a Time in China, A Chinese Ghost Story) recently directed the martial arts epic The Seven Swords. It’s beautiful. It’s well-acted. It’s completely incomprehensible.
The basic story is pretty straightforward—the emperor has outlawed martial arts, and a small evil army roams the countryside, slaughtering all those that practice martial arts. Someone comes to warn the village, two young people save that person, they wander for a while, then stumble upon the legendary Five Swordsmen hiding out in a mountain. They all then return as the Seven Swordsmen to kick the collective butts of the small evil army.
But the direction is muddy, and the shots are too close and don’t last long enough to make clear what’s going on. It’s not unlike the Transformers CGI movie; even if the fights had been good, I couldn’t tell what was going on.
And in an action movie, if I don’t know what’s going on, the movie loses all its fun. I watch an action film so I can enjoy the action. More depth than that is welcome, but it shouldn’t betray its central raison d’etre.